Musical Robotics in a Loudspeaker World: Developments in Alternative Approaches to Localization and Spatialization


Musical robotics is a rapidly growing field, with dozens of new works appearing in the past half decade. This paper explores the foundations of the discipline and how, due to the ability of musical robots to serve as uniquely spatialized musical agents, it experienced a rebirth even in the face of loudspeaker technology's dominance. The growth of musical robotics is traced from its pre-computer roots through its 1970s renaissance and to contemporary installation-oriented sculptures and performance-oriented works. Major figures in the field are examined, including those who in recent years have introduced the world to human/musical robot interaction in a concert setting. The paper closes with a brief speculation on the field's future, with a focus on the increasing ease with which new artists may enter the field.