McBlare: A Robotic Bagpipe Player

Dannenberg, Roger B. and Brown, Ben and Zeglin, Garth and Lupish, Ron

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

McBlare is a robotic bagpipe player developed by the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. McBlare plays a standard set of bagpipes, using a custom air compressor to supply air and electromechanical “fingers” to control the chanter. McBlare is MIDI controlled, allowing for simple interfacing to a keyboard, computer, or hardware sequencer. The control mechanism exceeds the measured speed of expert human performers. On the other hand, human performers surpass McBlare in their ability to compensate for limitations and imperfections in reeds, and we discuss future enhancements to address these problems. McBlare has been used to perform traditional bagpipe music as well as experimental computer generated music.