Exploring music as communicative gesture: A drumming implementation for a humanoid robot

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Music in general and drumming in specific has been used several times in human-robot interaction studies. We present a drumming robotic system based on the iCub humanoid robotic platform using all four limbs to play a fullsized drum set and the exploratory experimental setups used to assess it. The social aspect of the system uses the concept of music as a communicative gesture to transfer information and facilitate the interaction. The first implementation is focused on assessing the imitative capabilities of a robot on a full drum set at different levels of speed and complexity. By treating the rhythmic content as communication, the second implementation allows for improvisation of both the robot and the human in a kind of musical dialogue. While keeping the structure of turn-taking fixed and predefined, the focus of the setup is on the actual content of each turn and how it affects the other participant's communicative exchange. The resulting platform was able to imitate the drumming of the humans within the timing constraints of the rhythm and tempo. The second setup was used to evaluate the improvisation capabilities of the platform and also led to observations about the potential behaviour of the human participant in such an interaction. The robotic drumming system produced can be used for more complex rhythmical interactions between humans and robots. These will facilitate the study of not only the structure of the interaction but also its content.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6602437
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Symposium on Artificial Life (ALIFE)
Issue numberJanuary
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Event4th IEEE International Symposium on Artificial Life, IEEE ALIFE 2013 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 16 Apr 201319 Apr 2013


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