Ensemble Robot, Inc. is a Boston-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
Christine Southworth - President / Chief Executive Officer
Bill Tremblay - Vice President / Chief Technology Officer
Evan Ziporyn - Treasurer / Chief Financial Officer
Giles Hall - Secretary / Chief Administrative Officer
Board of Directors:
Daniel Baldini, Andy Cavatorta, Chyle Crossley, Giles Hall, Leila Hasan, Erik Nugent, William Tremblay, Christine Southworth, Evan Ziporyn
Ensemble Robot was founded in 2003 by Christine Southworth and Leila Hasan, as an organization of artists, engineers, programmers, and musicians, working to: (1) design, construct, and program an orchestra of robotic musical instruments and dancers, (2) commission music compositions and dance choreography for this ensemble, and (3) design, organize, execute, and promote performances for robotic instruments in collaboration with human musicians and dancers. The primary goal of Ensemble Robot is the creation of new, visually and sonically attractive, robotic instruments and music, in order to push acoustic instrumentation beyond traditional boundaries imposed by physical limits of the human body.
Our goals in using robots in music have been to make music in a new way, unconstrained by the traditional notions of human music or by preconceived notions of how robot music should sound. Additionally, we see the robotic actuators (the “performers”) and the acoustic musical instruments as unified rather than separate entities. We believe that our robot orchestra, as art, will expand the horizons of both music and humanity’s relation to machines.
The orchestra consists of several novel acoustic or amplified acoustic instruments, each designed and built specifically to be played by simple robotic actuators. The entire ensemble is sequenced and controlled by computers through the MIDI protocol, enabling the robots to play at their full potential (e.g., speed and rhythmic precision). In designing and building our robots, we do not try to imitate human performance on acoustic instruments, but rather develop new acoustic instruments and techniques of performance that suit robotic actuators.
Why Robots? We want to be able to make computer-controlled music in order to have difficult and rhythmically complex music played on acoustic instruments. We want people to be able to see the music being made, and hear the music on real instruments, rather than just through speakers. We feel that it is important to keep acoustic music alive in all sorts of ways, including the use of technology to build new types of instruments and find new sounds, rhythms, and textures that were not possible without the technology.
Part of our mission with Ensemble Robot is to bring not only the audible fruits of our hard work and painstaking design to audiences, but also to teach and inspire them. Thus, in addition to concerts and performances, we are working with a wide variety or organizations to plan talks and demonstrations where we can explain the technology, theory and artistic decisions behind the projects, answer questions about the operation of the machines and interfaces, and offer suggestions as to how others might get started in similar art-meets-engineering endeavors. We hope that through these workshops and events we can inspire children and adults alike to get involved in engineering and art. We are particularly interested in involving middle and high-school aged girls in this combination of art and engineering, as both of the project’s founders are young women interested in art and engineering.