Dynamic Robot Control for Expressive Piano Playing
(University of Cambridge, 2019)
Piano is a complex instrument, which humans learn to play after many years of practice. This paper hypothesizes that the relationship between motor control for key-pressing and the generated sound is a manifold problem, with high-degrees of non-linearity in nature. A robot was programmed to run 3125 key-presses on a physical digital piano with varied control parameters. The obtained data was applied to a Gaussian Process (GP) inference modelling method, to train a network in terms of 10 playing styles, corresponding to different expressions generated by a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). By analyzing the robot control parameters and the output sounds, the relationship was confirmed to be highly nonlinear, especially when the rich expressions (such as a broad range of sound dynamics) were necessary. Furthermore this relationship was difficult and time consuming to learn with linear regression models, compared to the developed GP-based approach.