karma kops

July 25, 2012 9:31 PM

I downloaded a random MIDI file of Radiohead's Karma Police and sent it, almost raw, to this robot xylophone which couldn't understand most of the file. It sounds terrible. There's also a boring video version.

posted by moonmilk (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

3.5 year old reviews the video: "Does it go by itself? HOW?"

those are pretty my thoughts also, plus I really like recognizing the fragments of the original in the robot's version...
posted by dubold at 2:13 AM on July 26, 2012

Oh man, I really like this. It's all there, even if it's half-broken and squashed down into a couple octaves. The clumpy chording and weird clicking sounds at the end are great.
posted by cortex at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2012

There is nothing terrible about how this sounds.
posted by sleevener at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, this is brilliant. The clunky nature of it just add's so much more. But maybe that's just my passion for robots shining through. Did you design the xylophone-bot yourself? A breakdown video of how it works would be very cool.
posted by chipolux at 10:24 PM on July 28, 2012

Thanks for the kind words. I may be emboldened to post the xylophone's rendition of Free Bird, which translated much better than this did.

Chipolux, yes, it's a homegrown design. And the xylophone itself was originally made for a calliope or theater organ, meaning it has always been played by machine, even back in the 50s or so!
posted by moonmilk at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2012

I just came across this one too, and man is it good.
posted by at the crossroads at 8:48 PM on July 30, 2012

I love this and I love your robot and my first thought was that I want to send you compositions like Bjork did with the music box melodies for Vespertine. Then I remembered I'm not a musical superstar who can commission things like that. But, yeah, this is super cool! My favorite thing about it is all the non-xylophone noise the robot makes in order to produce the melody.
posted by edlundart at 9:53 PM on July 30, 2012

Oh, you can totally send me compositions. Single channel MIDI, no more than 2 octaves. That goes for Bjork, too, if she's reading this. Hi Bjork!
posted by moonmilk at 10:07 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love the broken version of this song. But the instrument is a thing of beauty that should be exhibited at an interactive museum.
posted by not_on_display at 12:18 AM on August 1, 2012

It sounds even better if you have it running 2 or 3 times simultaneously. :D
posted by speicus at 2:30 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried any Conlon Nancarrow on it?
posted by speicus at 2:33 AM on August 2, 2012

Oooh, that's a good idea. And within 30 seconds of googling "Nancarrow MIDI" I found out that Trimpin has built a machine for scanning Nancarrow's piano rolls. [pdf]

(Haven't actually found any MIDI files yet, though. If you've got some, send them my way!)
posted by moonmilk at 5:45 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is interesting - a piano competition where the contestants record their performances on a Disklavier and transmit the recordings to the judges. More to the point, the competition posts the MIDI files on their site!
posted by moonmilk at 5:51 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

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