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< See an opera, do some yoga | Main | Musical Puzzles >



Another conducting robot...yeah, right.

Posted at 3:19 PM on April 24, 2008 by Fred Child (3 Comments)

Honda's robot named ASIMO will conduct the Detroit Symphony on May 13th. That's the headline in "news of the odd" around the world today. Perhaps more aptly: the Detroit Symphony has agreed to have a robot stand on the podium and wave its arms in a pre-programmed set of movements while they play some music.

The reason they've agreed to this entertainingly humiliating demostration? That's not making the headlines, but it should. Honda is giving the Detroit Symphony a million dollars to create "The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund." ASIMO may not do any actual conducting, but a million dollars for music education in Detroit? Thank you, Honda!

ASIMO has been around since 1986, and according to the official Honda ASIMO website:

ASIMO can help the blind and the elderly. He can do things that old people can't do for themselves. ASIMO could help the blind cross the street...He could help the elderly by walking up and down steps with them and keeping them company.

But before you rush out to buy an ASIMO to help you walk up and down steps, check out this video of ASIMO taking a tumble. (ASIMO then burbled "I've fallen and I can't get up.") (He didn't really.)

By the way...ASIMO is not the first conducting robot. In 2004, Sony's QRIO (pronounced curio) conducted the Tokyo Symphony in about 90 seconds of Beethoven's 5th. The first violinist in the Tokyo Philharmonic, Eiji Arai, said "We usually adjust our timing by paying attention to the conductor's breathing, but QRIO doesn't breathe, so it was a bit difficult to communicate with it."

I haven't seen any official admission of ASIMO's pre-programmed conducting movements, but Sony was upfront about QRIO in 2004. A joke was even pre-programmed. Right before the performance, QRIO turned to the audience and said "I'm feeling nervous."


Comments ( 3 )


Mr. Child,
I listen and enjoy Performance Today regularly.
Today, however, my ears perked up and recoiled when I heard you use the term "Carpetbaggers" referring to them as Southerners in connection with the opera about John Brown.

Missouri was a border state in the Civil War and the term Carpetbaggers was never applied to Southerners. On the contrary, it was a name given BY Southerners for Northerners who rushed into the devestated South after the war with their money in a carpetbag to take advantage of the collapse of the economy and desperation of its people by buying up property at a tiny fraction of its worth and either evicting the owners because they coulldn't pay the rent or making sharecroppers of them (their own form of slavery).

Posted by LaWanda Rector | May 2, 2008 10:35 AM


How about a flute-playing robot?

Posted by Genevieve Randall | May 5, 2008 9:26 PM


My Bacon number is also 3. Kyra Sedgewick is married to Mr. Bacon. She served on the Board of Directors of the Cape Cod Theater with my oldest daughter, Kelly Greene. BINGO!

This game is scary because it demonstrates that there really is an eyelash between us and most of the people on the planet. Or at least between most of us and Kevin Bacon - he DOES get around!

Enjoy the show everyday, keep up the good work.

Posted by Diane Christy | May 7, 2008 10:22 AM

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