Towards an embodied musical mind: Generative algorithms for robotic musicians

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Bretan, Peter Mason
Weinberg, Gil
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Embodied cognition is a theory stating that the processes and functions comprising the human mind are influenced by a person's physical body. The theory of embodied musical cognition holds that a person's body largely influences his or her musical experiences and actions. This work presents multiple frameworks for computer music generation as it pertains to robotic musicianship such that the musical decisions result from a joint optimization between the robot's physical constraints and musical knowledge. First, a generative framework based on hand-designed higher level musical concepts and the Viterbi beam search algorithm is described. The system allows for efficient and autonomous exploration on the relationship between music and physicality and the resulting music that is contingent on such a connection. It is evaluated objectively based on its ability to plan a series of sound actuating robotic movements (path planning) that minimize risk of collision, the number of dropped notes, spurious movements, and energy expenditure. Second, a method for developing higher level musical concepts (semantics) based on machine learning is presented. Using strategies based on neural networks and deep learning we show that it is possible to learn perceptually meaningful higher-level representations of music. These learned musical ``embeddings'' are applied to an autonomous music generation system that utilizes unit selection. The embeddings and generative system are evaluated based on objective ranking tasks and a subjective listening study. Third, the method for learning musical semantics is extended to a robot such that its embodiment becomes integral to the learning process. The resulting embeddings simultaneously encode information describing both important musical features and the robot's physical constraints.
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