New technology can 'clone' musicians

14th May 2008 | 13:43

New technology can 'clone' musicians

Researchers at the University of Plymouth claim to have developed an intelligent digital instrument

We’re familiar with the concept of virtual instrumentalists – this has manifested itself in products such as MusicLab’s RealStrat and Rayzoon’s Jamstix – but researchers at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) at the University of Plymouth claim to have taken things a step further by developing a digital instrument that can listen to you (or anyone else) play and then jam along in a similar style.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but PhD student Marcelo Gimenes and Professor Eduardo Miranda seem to think that full-on musical cloning technology isn’t too far away. Their system ‘listens’ and learns (it doesn’t have to be pre-programmed) and is said to be much more sophisticated than previous efforts.

Professor Miranda has this to say: “We predict the emergence of new kinds of intelligent musical instruments that could revolutionise the music industry. Such instruments will be able to learn basic musical skills autonomously as they are played.”

MusicRadar wonders how it’d feel about teaching a machine how to play – we’re not sure we want anyone/anything nicking our ‘signature licks’. What’s more, we’d worry that if the thing sounded rubbish, it would reflect badly on the quality of our own musicianship…

If the technology works, though, it could raise some interesting questions – would it be possible to ‘clone’ Jimi Hendrix by feeding in recordings of his playing, for example?  Let us know what you think…

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