Robot Show

Juliet Schlefer, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Collaborators: Noah Tappen, College of Engineering; Adam Schmidt, School of Music, Theatre & Dance and College of Engineering; Julian Grabarek, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

The project involves mechanical engineering, artistic curation, performance, and sound engineering. Four collaborators from different disciplines, mechanical engineering, electrical engineer and performing arts technology, vocal performance, and piano performance will be combining their expertise and experience to develop and present “Robot Show,” a recital style one-act show that will become the second half of my senior recital in April 2022.

We will build a seven-foot tall robot that will personify and personalize aspects of music that are often relegated to a secondary position. This robot will serve as an integral component by serving as a partner performer in a variety of musical offerings from the medieval era to the 21st century, giving voice to different forms of accompaniment such as electronic backtracks and improvised harpsichord. For example, in Milton Babbitt’s Phonemena, the robot will “sing” the part for electronics, giving a face to that component of the music, thus turning the song into a duet/conversation and elevating the standard relationship of soloist and accompanist into a new partnership. 

The main social impact that I intend to achieve with this project is to create a bridge between the college of engineering and school of music. With “Robot Show”, I will provide my collaborators with an opportunity to utilize the skills they’ve been learning in a multidisciplinary environment. I expect to show others how engineering is as much of a creative field as music, and how it can aid classical music’s contemporary growth. Ultimately, I would like my ideas to inspire others to explore cross-college collaborations to enhance their fields of study.