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Music instruments capable of playing themselves

Researchers at Stanford University in California have developed technology that effectively allows music instruments the capacity to play autonomously.
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Innovative musicians are finding new ways of exploring the relationship between traditional music instruments and technology, with the latest development effectively allowing instruments to "play themselves".

Edgar Berdahl, who researches technology in music at Stanford University in California, and his colleagues have modified traditional music instruments like the drums, the guitar and violin by adding electromagnets and other sensors to them, reported New Scientist.

By doing so, the music instruments, which are hooked up to a computer, can both detect and create vibrations. This means that, while the instruments can be played by a person, they possess the capacity to play themselves.

For example, the overtone fiddle can be played in a traditional way, but signals can also be thrust into the body of the instrument, giving it a greater range of sounds.

Speaking to the magazine, Berdahl said: "We can synthesise any perceivable sound. However, most sounds are not worth listening to. Composing music can be thought of as the task of precisely specifying sounds and organising them in an artistic manner.

"Our choice is to use specially crafted instruments as an interface to help us select the sounds that we want to put into our artwork."

The music produced by the renowned violist Mari Kimura is just one example of how musicians are embracing technology in composition and performance.

Ms Kimura is testing out new technology that captures the motion of her bow hand through sensors on a glove, which a computer then manipulates.


Posted on 26 Jul 2011 09:59 to category : Instruments News

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