Mari Kimura isn't just any classical violinist -- while she has chops aplenty and knows the standard lit from front to Bach (she teaches at Juilliard), Mari is something of a tech head and is taking the violin to places where no fiddle has gone before. One of Kimura's technological partners in crime is GuitarBot, a unique device that provides the accompaniment to "GuitarBotana," a wild flight of fancy found on her excellent Bridge records CD, Polytopia. When asked if she uses any pedals to control GuitarBot, her reply was that it is truly "interactive":
"I don't use any external device to control it, simply because it is distracting to step on something for myself as well as for the audience; you create a musical "give-away" in front of an audience when you step on something, like "Look, I'm going to change something, here - watch!". I choose to sacrifice the "spontaneous," real-time music experience of making use of a foot pedal, which invariably ends up looking un-spontaneous anyway. In this YouTube video, you can see that there are no pedals. The piece is programmed in timed sections, and within those time frames I vary the type of interaction. If you listen carefully, you will notice that in the beginning the GuitarBot stops whenever I go up above the pitches above open E; I am pitch tracking the violin. Also around 3'28" or so, you will notice that whenever I play a bit louder, the GuitarBot will play a chord; it is programmed to track my loudness." â€“ Mari Kimura
I was surprised to see that GuitarBot moves around so much, and it seems to have an almost human-like responsiveness to Kimura's playing. It's quite a show; Mari Kimura is opening a new chapter in the realm of interactivity between robots and humans in music.