Artist and engineer Joan Vallvé made robots that can play the violin and the glockenspiel. They're on exhibit this weekend at Sónar, a music festival in Barcelona:
The "Violí MIDI" and "Metal·lòfon MIDI" are part of the project to design and construct an automated musical environment. This environment must be able to play live, and that is why it has been designed to be easy to handle, reliable, stable and completely portable. The roots of the project lie in a reflection on the use of robotics as a tool for musical composition and performance. The media and surroundings influence and determine the artist's creative process. A new environment, a new language and a new interface will produce new creations and new musical styles. This is therefore a new format which calls into question the limits of the concepts of singer-songwriter or musical group.
Robotic instruments have so far been polyphonic percussion instruments and melodic instruments using plucked strings. Other musical timbres, registers and functions have still to be explored. On the horizon of the project is the creation of an interface adapted to the characteristics of each instrument, making the automated musical ensemble into an automated musical environment. The project is also based on constructive simplicity, the recycling of components and free hardware (Arduino), as well as the MIDI protocol due to its flexibility.
Link via Make | Vallvé's Website