Short answer – no.  Of course not. In a strangely adorable and awkwardly terrifying display of drone technology and synchronization software, the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania have displayed in fine form that live musicians will be necessary for quite some time to come.  Film below:


What you’re watching is an ensemble of automated (not piloted) drones programmed to play a modest arrangement of the James Bond theme.  That means, essentially that it’s a piece of gear, controlling multiple pieces of gear, that are in turn playing other pieces of gear.  A gear-ception, if you will – or something out of Pimp My Ride:  Hey dog, we heard you like gear.  So we made some gear to control your gear that plays your other gear!

Most of the instruments seem to be made or modified specifically for them to play this song.  One of these has been dubbed the ‘Couch Guitar’.  This piece of musical furniture would be the series of strings strung across a couch frame.  I’d say they get an ‘A’ for creating an instrument a drone can play, ‘C’ for the name.  Too literal.

The novelty of instruments designed for robots aside, it seems to me like this is the infant stage of what might be a very popular kind of show in the not-so-distant future.  What’d you think; do we have some kind of ‘Blue Robot Group’,or whatever, to look forward to?  

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Michael is an entertainment attorney at Ramo Law PC specializing in music, film and television as well as a guitarist and former guitar tech.

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  • there was robotic music in the 20’s nothing new at all

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