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Band + Electronics (3.5 minutes)
Flute 1, 2
B♭ Clarinet 1, 2
B♭ Bass Clarinet
E♭ Alto Saxophone 1, 2
B♭ Tenor Saxophone
E♭ Baritone Saxophone
B♭ Trumpet 1, 2 (requires straight mute)
F Horn (requires straight mute)
Trombone 1, 2
Percussion 1 – Snare Drum, Low Tom
Percussion 2 – Bass Drum
Percussion 3 – Xylophone, Suspended Cymbal, Triangle, Guiro
Percussion 4 – Glockenspiel, Woodblock, Low Tom
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hitchBOT, the late Canadian hitchhiking robot, was created by professors at McCaster University and Ryerson University in 2013. hitchBOT was a study in “roboethics” (the ethics of robot use) and set out to answer the essential question: “Can robots trust humans?”
The robot was released into the wild and traveled all over North America and Europe. Because hitchBOT couldn’t move on its own, it asked drivers to pick it up and transport it from location to location. hitchBOT eventually became a social media sensation with fans all over the world following its journey. In 2015 hitchBOT was brutally decapitated and vandalized during its attempt to hitchhike across the United States, thus ending the study. Sometimes bad things happen to good robots.
I was inspired by hitchBOT’s tragic story to write this fun, quirky, dark techno-western influenced piece for band and electronics. The audio track is constructed to sound somewhat robotic in nature while the ensemble has room to add expressivity and human artistry to the mix, hinting at the underlying tension present by nature in the ethics of human interaction with technology.
While hitchBOT was not limited to only Western United States, when imagining the idea of hitchhiking robots I couldn’t help but picture two robots hanging out by a campfire in the desert – harmonicas in hand. For this reason the piece has a bit of a country-western flavor hinting at music from some of my favorite classic films (too bad those films didn’t have robots).