Toy Symphony Hyperviolin

Tristan Jehan (software, audio analysis/synthesis)
Diana Young (bow hardware)
Joshua Bell, Cora Venus Lunny (music)

The Hyperviolin is the latest in a series of enhanced expert-performance hyperinstruments devised by Machover and the MIT Media Lab team. Driven by multi-channel, audio analysis and synthesis software and wireless hardware technology embedded in an enhanced violin bow, the Hyperviolin performance system gives extra power and finesse to a virtuoso player. Measurements of perceptual timbre qualities as well as musical gestures allow for the control of rich and varied soundscapes, and also allow music to be exchanged and modified between hyperviolinist and kids. Celebrated violinist Joshua Bell will play the Hyperviolin throughout the Toy Symphony tour.

Real-time Timbre Analysis and Synthesis
by Tristan Jehan
A synthesis engine that predicts the timbre of arbitrary acoustic instruments. Musically meaningful, it is controlled by the perceptual features extracted from the audio stream of an acoustic or electric violin in real-time. The timbre models are built from the analysis of pitch, loudness, brightness and the instantaneous power spectrum of real recordings. Although highly compressed, the sound quality is fully preserved. Also the playability remains smooth, expressive, predictable and is adequate for sound morphing.

by Diana Young

(Photo by Eric Jensen)

The creation of musical instruments that utilize technology to increase the functionality and subtlety of control has been an endeavor of Tod Machover and his research group since 1986. Toward this goal, we have developed a violin bow interface intended for use by accomplished players.
This project aims to capture the most intricate aspects of violin bowing technique, the subtle elements that immediately and directly impact the sound of the instrument while playing. The physical gesture data collected can then be used to control audio effects and synthesis algorithms in real-time. The Hyperbow interface was featured in Toy Symphony performances with violinists Joshua Bell and Cora Venus Lunny, and currently several pieces for cello and Hyperbow are in development by colleagues at the Royal Academy of Music.
Current research uses the Hyperbow as a measurement system to investigate the interaction of bowing parameters (speed, force, position) and the corresponding effects on the audio produced.

Audio excerpts of the Hyperviolin, performed solo by Cora Venus Lunny,
at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York city

Hyperviolin excerpt 1: timbre transformations shaped by spectral analysis
Hyperviolin excerpt 2: violin enhanced with electronic sounds from bow data analysis
Hyperviolin excerpt 3: real-time audio layering
Hyperviolin excerpt 4: violin plus shakuhachi physical model, and singing voice

Toy Symphony concerts
Toy Symphony culminates in worldwide performances that highlight and promote the new music created for and by children. The performances include a full orchestra playing traditional instruments with electronic enhancements, a number of local children using Music Toys, world class conductors like Kent Nagano, and a celebrated hyper-soloist such as violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. The concert program will feature several new compositions for orchestra, children and Music Toys..

Toy Symphony team

General information:
Center for Future Arts MIT Media Lab
Jacqueline Karaaslanian
Wiesner Building, E15
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts

advanced technologic sound magazine
2006 December issue 153

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