Humanoid robot listens to music, plays along on his Theremin


Researcher and YouTube user [mspetitegeek] along with her lab mate [Tatsuhiko Itohara] have been fortunate enough to spend some time working with the HRP-2 humanoid robot from Kawada Industries. Their research has seemingly been focused on using the robot to create real-time interactions with humans for entertainment purposes, at the very least.

The program they created allows the HRP-2 to listen and watch its human counterpart while he plays the guitar in order to recognize a beat pattern. Once the robot catches on, it plays along on his Theremin, matching both notes and rhythm perfectly. Since the human operator is clearly playing at a fairly relaxed pace, we are curious to see a demonstration where the robot required to match a snappier tune – it could be quite interesting.

In the meantime, we’re content to just sit back and enjoy the Mogwai-esque tones of the HRP-2 rocking the Theremin.

Keep reading to see a short video of the HRP-2 in action.


  1. Philippe says:

    It… uh… rocks !?!?

  2. kabadisha says:

    Who on earth came up with this? It’s an interesting and fun idea, something you might discuss over lunch and have a laugh about, but these guys actually thought this would be worth the considerable time and effort to do? Why? Am I missing something here, some greater plan this fits into?

    Not trying to be overly negative here – just amazed someone could be bothered to do this.

    • Adam says:

      “Their research has seemingly been focused on using the robot to create real-time interactions with humans for entertainment purposes, at the very least.”

      This is an example of entertainment. Music at this level isn’t complex as it only plays a few tones/frequencies in response to a few environmental specific tones/frequencies. The reason why this is so cool, is if this technology is able react in many different ways (letters->words->sentences) in a combinatorial response to many different environmental sounds, then we could have real-time conversation with a robot. It would feel like talking to someone who knows every fact, if lets say the robot was able to access the internet and answer any question you had. Then, you could go home smoke a joint and jam with your robot to any genre of music. IMAGINE THAT SHIT!

  3. kabadisha says:

    Also, it seems like the robot starts playing mysteriously before the human has even set a pitch to follow? Are we sure this is real-time?

  4. Joao says:

    “…in order to recognize a beat pattern.”

    It’s not about the application, it’s about the technics developed to make the application works.

  5. MattQ says:

    If they add key recognition, and a little music theory to the bot, they could make it jam with the musician and do some improv.

  6. Angelica says:

    It’s a beat tracker, not pitch tracker. With the first few innocuous twangs of the guitar, the system picked up the tempo and beat time and started playing.

    As for why we did it, try finding another instrument a humanoid can play! (don’t say drum… ;)

  7. Anyone else see the “Johnny Five” resemblance?

  8. ChalkBored says:


    It looks more like a Decepticon version of a Hoveround scooter.

  9. Amos says:


    LOL (for real)

  10. KillerBug says:

    Wow…that is the most realistic humanoid robot I have ever seen…but he is just playing the guitar; the non-humanoid robot (no legs) is the one playing the theremin.

  11. Colin says:

    Never ask the “why bother” question; if you analyze it for long enough, it becomes apparent that there isn’t really a point in doing *anything*

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