Now, a robotic drumstick to help novices learn how to play the drums

March 11th, 2008 - 4:57 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 11 (ANI): In what may be called the beginning of the creation of robotic musical teachers, computer scientists in the US have developed a machine that controls a novices drumstick to help them learn how to play.

Graham Grindlay, a computer scientist who developed the device while at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, said that the device had also been found to reduce the time taken in picking up new rhythms.

He said that just like music teachers, his drumstick could also guide a students hand to get across complex or subtle movements.

“I had the idea of a drum kit that would guide you through the playing,” New Scientist magazine quoted him as saying.

Grindlay revealed that he previously tried to employ magnets to guide the tip of a drumstick, but later found a mechanical system to be more effective.

He said that the approach resulted in the Haptic Guidance System (HAGUS), with a drumstick being attached to a set of motors the action of which guides a users hand.

The researcher said that HAGUS could be used by a skilled drummer to “record” a specific set of beats, so that it could be taught to a beginner at a later stage.

According to Grindlay, his drumstick can teach users to alter the tempo by speeding up or slowing down, or to hit the drum with varying strength to match the expert’s playing.

Upon testing HAGUS’s effect on learning new rhythms in a study involving 32 people without prior experience of drumming, Grindlay found that the robotic teacher enabled the subjects to learn how hard to hit the drum 18 per cent more accurately than when they tried to mimic a rhythm after just hearing it.

It also had a bit of beneficial impact on the subjects timing.

“More difficult, coordinated motions would be especially good for this kind of system. Usually the approach is to learn to play with each hand separately, and then combine them,” Grindlay says.

He, however, believes that using HAGUS devices on both hands at once may help people learn that coordination faster.

Chris Chafe of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, California, branded the study a “wonderful job” of showing how haptics can help learner musicians.

He said that the study suggested that with the system, “training goes up and I imagine accuracy of skilled players does, too.”

A paper on Hagus will be presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2008 conference this week. (ANI)

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