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Robot rockers nail Nirvana and Metallica classics

An engineer has programmed drums, bass, and guitar to play on their own, banging out rock standards like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Smoke on the Water, and Enter Sandman.

Known as One Hacker Band on its Instagram profile, the robot power trio consists of three classic rock instruments with movable parts attached to them, allowing them to pick, play, strum, and hit themselves.

The augmented instruments are programmed to respond to voice commands and can be preset – allowing One Hacker Band to belt out cracking riffs underpinned by a rock-solid rhythm section.

Not only that, but footage shared by the engineer behind the project on Instagram shows that One Hacker Band can even play songs of its own composition.

While he insists the core technology behind the self-playing instruments is not actually artificial intelligence, he does use machine learning techniques incorporated in the Magenta Studio plugin in Ableton to compose original material for the robo-rockers.

The only thing One Hacker Band might be lacking is feel or tone – the unique emphasis an individual player’s human hands place on notes or beats when playing. In all other respects, the three-piece got the thumbs up from professional musician and writer Matt Owen at Guitar World magazine.

“As a musical creation, it’s something special indeed, but as a feat of engineering it’s truly eye-opening,” said Owen, describing One Hacker Band as a phenomenon “that connects the worlds of futuristic technology with basic tools of rock‘n’roll.”

He added: “If [...] guitar-playing robots are unleashed into the wild, we can at least rest easy knowing they’ve got fantastic taste in music – because One Hacker Band has programmed them to play some of rock’s biggest and best hits.”

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