Tuesday, April 9, 2013


LEMUR GuitarBot – Balance Of Power

LEMUR GuitarBot
The LEMUR GuitarBot (www.lemurbots.org), a collection of four MIDI-controlled monochords built by Eric Singer, is a beautiful soundsource, especially when also recorded with microphones to capture all the mechanical noises that surround it.
Primarily I set the computer to algorithmically generate two kinds of sounds from the robots. First the scraping sounds of the slowly crawling frets, and second those from crashing the frets vigorously against the bridge. The third sound – a high pitch you hear throughout the piece – comes from the circuit boards, picked up by the microphones. These sounds feed in turn the computer processing unit (basically a modified version of my Endangered Guitar software), which again converts them into MIDI information to play the robots.
This feedback loop can go on for a while, and what you hear is a multi-channel recording of the guitar pickups, several microphones and computer processing channels, mixed down to 5.1 surround. The piece has three movements, occasionally I interfere with the balance of power to give it a new direction, until at the end, as usual, that balance gets out of control.
The original piece is in 5.1 Surround Sound, making extensive use of the spatialization of sounds. The piece was presented on surround sound installations and presentations in the US, Germany and Bulgaria. The version below is a stereo mix / recomposition of the 5.1 piece.

LEMUR GuitarBot 2004

Hans Tammen – GuitarBot Control
Kurt Ralske – video

Living In The Future
Eric Singer @ SPACE Gallery

Despite the lack of flying cars, jet packs and personal worm holes, Eric Singer enjoys living in the future. In fact, this is where he draws inspiration for his artwork. With this in mind, Eric presents a retro-proto-spective of his work combining sound, video, robotics and technology. Plus, you get to play with the art, too.

SPACE Gallery
May 13-June 16
818 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
Opening Reception: May 13th, 6-9 pm


Behind The Orchestrion

Hopefully by now, you've seen the amazing Orchestrion battalion of robotic musical instruments live, in the movie or on YouTube. Here's the story behind its creation.

In 2008, guitarist Pat Metheny approached LEMUR Director Eric Singer and said he wanted to tour with a backing band of all-robotic instruments. Eric said, "We can do that!", and the project commenced. LEMUR worked tirelessly throughout 2009 to produce about 40 custom stringed, mallet and percussion instruments to make up the ensemble. Many were based on LEMUR's considerable body of previous instrument designs, but many were newly designed creations. Along the way, Pat contacted several other makers including Ragtime West, Peterson and others to supplement the LEMUR collection.

Throughout 2010, Pat toured the world with the Orchestrion ensemble. Each evening, a crew would set up the instruments, Pat would play a three hour concert, they would strike the set, go on to the next city and do it all again - quite an accomplishment. By all reports, the instruments performed flawlessles and the concerts were met with rave reviews. (Pat told Eric, "Your instruments were the least of our problems!")

LEMUR was proud to be the force behind realizing the Orchestrion. Look for more recordings and tours by Pat and the Orchestrion in upcoming years. Don't miss an opportunity to see it!

If you're a musician interested in having your own robotic ensemble created, please contact us. We'd love to talk with you.

A Close-up View

This Gigapan photo is a zoomable panorama of the Orchestrion. Zoom in close to see the instruments in detail.


A video tour of LEMUR's work, including concerts, installations and commissions.