If you have ever seen capoeira, you have undoubtedly heard the music of a berimbau. If you are not familiar, Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that melds martial arts, acrobatics, and music. This graceful fighting form is often accompanied by the sounds of a berimbau, a single-stringed musical instrument comprised of a gourd, a wooden bow, and a steel string.
[Ivan Monsão] and [Paulo Libonati] have constructed what is considered to be the first robotic berimbau in existence, capable of playing music without any human interaction. The robot strikes the berimbau’s metal string, mechanically muting the gourd when appropriate, and even shakes the caxixi (a rattle) in time with the music.
The builder claims that the berimbau learns songs by “listening” and repeating rather than having songs pre-programmed into the system. We can’t see any evidence of that functionality from the video, though we’d love to see the learning process in action.
While we try to find our VHS copy of “Only the Strong”, be sure to take a look at the following video of the berimbau playing itself.