Strings

Summary

Strings is an audiovisual performance for an acoustic violin and two generative instruments, one for creating synthetic sounds and one for creating synthetic imagery. The three instruments are related to each other conceptually, technically, and aesthetically by sharing the same physical principle, that of a vibrating string. This principle forms the basis of interaction between the performers and their instruments and also provides the mechanism for creating natural and synthetic audio and video.

This project has been realised in collaboration with Ephraim Wegner, a teacher and researcher at Offenburg University, and Harald Kimmig, a freelance musician. A detailed description of the project has been published.

Generative Systems

Strings combines two generative systems that simulate the vibration of strings by means of a mass-spring-damper model. The simulated strings are used to control the creation of synthetic sounds and images. The generative system that controls sound synthesis simulates several one-dimensional arrays of interconnected springs. The generative system that controls image synthesis simulates two-dimensional meshes of interconnected springs. The simulated springs are translated fairly directly into acoustic and visual output. The spring arrays are sonified by mapping the deflection of mass-points into amplitudes of a waveform. The spring-meshes are visually rendered as triangulated surfaces whose coloring and opacity is controlled by the live camera image and the amplitude of the springs’ oscillations, respectively.

Interaction

The activity of both generative systems is predominantly controlled by the violinist. The violinist’s visual appearance and acoustic output are recorded by a camera and a microphone, respectively. The camera image is analyzed by detecting salient image points. These points are tesselated into a triangulated surface which serves as basis for constructing a mass-spring system that in turn controls the creation of synthetic images. The microphone recording is analyzed by calculating a frequency spectrum. Based on the energy in each frequency bin and the consonance relationships among them, a subset of bins is selected. These bins are then used to excite through a simulated resonance effect the simulated strings in both generative systems.

Rehearsals

Strings has been rehearsed extensively. The purpose of these rehearsals was to familiarise the violinist with the interactive controls and the synthetically produced media, and to establish an iterative process of continued development and artistic experimentation.

Excerpt from a Rehearsal of Strings
Excerpt from a Rehearsal of Strings
Excerpt from a Rehearsal of Strings

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