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A project log for Bot-thoven: A Robot Musician

Designing a Servo Motor Based Mallet System to Generate Musical Expression in Instrument Playing Robots

jason-pJason P. 02/18/2020 at 14:170 Comments


I will need to begin building the remaining 15 servo-mallet systems.


I will screw the long servo horns on to all of the servos and use a 3D printer to print the stands to hold up the servo-mallet system.


I have finished attaching the long servo horns to the 15 servos. The stands are currently printing right now through the 3D printer and should be finished printing by Tuesday.


For next week, I will need to continue building the final set of servo-mallet systems by attaching the mallet using a zip tie.

Practical Need or Problem Trying To Be Solved

Creating a musical instrument-playing robot will allow anyone to listen to a personalized live performance at any time or location. The robot will be able to perform any given repertoire with musical expression like a human performer as long as a MIDI file of the music is prepared for the program to read. While our project currently focuses on a single instrument – a xylophone, our work on how to have robotic instruments play with dynamics and musical techniques has the potential to be applied for a variety of instruments. The expansion of our research to other instruments will give listeners even more freedom in personalization. In addition, music has been shown to help dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in helping regain memory loss. Our technology has the potential to be used in the field of music therapy – where Bot-thoven can be set up in nursing homes to help residents use the power of music for positive recovery. 

Another reason why this project is important is because it will help develop fine motor control of a robot. Bot-thoven requires precise servo movement when controlling a mallet to strike the xylophone with varying musical emotions. The project’s main goal of “playing an instrument expressly” requires meticulous motor control, expanding Bot-thoven’s application to fields beyond music. Since motor control is an important aspect of any robotics project, the methods used to develop fine servo motor control through Bot-thoven will serve as important research and information for all roboticists.