MOJA: The Chinese-Style Robot Orchestra on Stage, Again

From left to right: Little Lantern, Kaiyang, Yuheng and Yaoguang

MOJA, the first Chinse-style robot orchestra, staged a musical show in Tsinghua University on December 15th. MOJA orchestra consists of three robotic musicians and their new friend—the "Little Lantern", or host of the concert.

The robot musicians are named after stars that form the Big Dipper: Alioth the Jade (Yuheng), Alkaid the Light (Yaoguang) and Mizar the Sun (Kaiyang). They play different traditional Chinese musical instruments, respectively bamboo flute, Chinese harp and set drum. The concert lasted around 20 minutes, and the robot musicians performed six songs for the audience.

MOJA robots are designed in traditional Chinese aesthetic style. Their hand-crafted wooden bodies look different from the more frequently seen heavy-metal-punk-style robots. Like traditional Chinese music, the design of the robots attempts to express a peaceful mood.

MOJA Chinese robot orchestra made their debut on April 29th, at the ceremony marking the 108th anniversary of Tsinghua University. Comparing with that show, the new performance of MOJA features several upgrades. They were in gorgeous Tang-dynasty-style garments, and more importantly, had refined expressions on their faces now.

April, 2019

December, 2019

The robot concert host, Little Lantern, is a new audio-animatronic robot, which has a lantern-shaped body and a human-like face. With rich facial expressions, Little Lantern talks to the audience and introduces the robot orchestra as well as the music they play.

Little Lantern and Kaiyang

This project was developed by an interdisciplinary team, which consists robot engineers, sculpture artists, new media artists, dramatists and musicians, two thirds of whom came from the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University.

Dr. Haipeng Mi, who leads this project, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Information Art and Design. As a pioneer of robot art in China, Mi has been exploring the connections between robotics and traditional Chinese culture. MOJA Chinese robot orchestra is a great example of what Mi intends to come up with.

Resource: Department of Information Art & Design

Editor: Ruohan Zhao