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Spanish robot can name that tune

Researchers at the University of Malaga are creating a series of musically inclined bots to make and manage musical content.

Music-recognizing robot
A robot out of Malaga, Spain, can recognize tunes and suggest similar melodies you might like. EFE/Jorge Zapata

A musically gifted robot out of Spain promises to identify a song when you hum it, whistle it, strum chords on the guitar, or play the piano. It can then classify the tune according to musical style and suggest similar songs you might like. In addition, it can determine whether a singer is male or female and group pieces accordingly.

The robot, apparently a Lego Mindstorms NXT, is one of a series of musically inclined bots being created at the University of Malaga to make and manage musical content.

In addition to the song-recognizing robot, the Malaga researchers developed a system that uses augmented reality technology to create a virtual piano keyboard. This method can also be applied to the bars of a xylophone.

The feature could prove useful for music teachers, who would have greater reach to students and venues lacking an instrument of their own, Isabel Barbancho, an associate professor of communications engineering at the school, told Spanish language news agency EFE. Barbancho also is helping to organize the upcoming International Symposium on Computer Music Modeling and Retrieval, to be held from June 21 to 24 in Malaga.

Still another innovation from the university group converts ordinary songs into a game format similar to that of "Guitar Hero." While the game tunes might not be supported by a platform like the PS3, the potential number of songs you could convert into games through the system is unlimited, Barbancho said.

Sounds like it's time for Shimon the autonomous, marimba-playing robot to take a trip to the University of Malaga. We're thinking it and robots by Barbancho's team could make beautiful (or at least very weird) music together.