Screen grab from Youtube.

ATLANTA - Shimon is a four-armed marimba-playing robot designed by Georgia Tech’s music technology center. 

Like many AI music experiments, the music Shimon is playing is generated by a method called deep learning. 

This essentially means mining a large amount of information (in this case, a dataset of some 5,000 songs) and looking for common patterns in the music.

 For example, if you have a sequence of notes F, G, A, what note will follow next? Deep learning will know. 

Usually, Shimon plays alongside human musicians using preprogrammed songs. 

But now, it’s being used to play original compositions. 

Ph.D. student Mason Bretan is the man behind the machine. Also, Shimon was created by Bretan’s advisor, Gil Weinberg, Director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology.

Bretan worked with Shimon for seven years, enabling it to “listen” to music played by humans and improvise over pre-composed chord progressions.

 Now Shimon is a solo composer for the first time, generating the melody and harmonic structure on its own.