RIDGEWOOD, N.J., Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Robots have come a long way since
the intelligent tin cans on wheels of the mid-20th century. Today, robots
assist handicapped people, build cars, perform microsurgery, clean rugs and
perhaps one day will fight wars for humans. Why not provide entertainment?
"The idea is not to recreate Puccini or Wagner," says Paul Minotto,
composer and founder of the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra
( http://www.primetimesublime.com ), an alternative classical ensemble that
uses computers and wears costumes during performances. "This will be a
contemporary opera performed and sung by robots."
Minotto read a story about Yoshii Tagu, a computer programmer and inventor
in Tokyo, and his experiments with altering and extending the capabilities of
commercially available robots such as AIBO, the robot dog made by Japan's Sony
"One of the robots Yoshii was working with was a Wakamaru, a household
robot developed by the Mitsubishi Corporation. This robot can talk," says
Minotto. "I was beginning to work with voice synthesis software at the time
and approached Yoshii with the possibility of making a Wakamaru or an AIBO
In the past, one of the problems of electronically simulated voices had to
do with the synthetic quality of the voice -- they sounded like robots. Recent
developments in voice synthesis technology developed by AT&T and the Yamaha
Corporation have changed all that.
"We are designing the robots for the purpose of singing and acting in
response to human interaction or other robots," says Minotto. "Getting them to
sing is the easy part."
While working out the details of using the singing software in the robots,
Minotto and the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra recorded a new CD that
features vocals sung entirely by a computer.
"Songs That Will Never Win A Grammy" is an eclectic mix of pop songs and
sound bites with contributions by Richard Nixon, Hillary Clinton, both George
Bushes and other celebrities. From the majestic opening of "Curb Your God,"
which features seven different digital singers, to the crooner on "Rainbow
Seeds of Mass Destruction," the vocals sound as if made by human performers,
not a machine.
"The singing on this CD is an example of what the operatic robots will
sound like, but in a pop music context," claims Minotto.
Robots entertaining humans is not a new idea. In 1992, Dr. Ingo Titze,
Director of the National Center for Voice and Speech in Denver, and one of the
world's foremost vocal physicists, created a computerized model of Luciano
Pavarobotti is a singing robot that has performed with Titze, an
accomplished tenor, in presentations combining science with vocal music. More
recently, Sony developed the SDR-4X, a human-shaped robot that can sing and
dance. It is only 24 inches tall and costs as much as a luxury car.
But the logistics of creating robots that work together and with humans in
an opera is something else.
"After we solve the problems of interaction, we have to deal with realism
of character so that the robots have an identity, a personality," says
Minotto. "Maybe we should program the soprano robot with an inflated ego: a
true prima donna."
Contact: Paul Minotto
Impresario, the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra (pTsCO)
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SOURCE the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra (pTsCO)