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Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Instrument And Theory Tool Visualizations: Monthly Modeling Challenge

A monthly challenge in instrument and theory tool modeling? To what end?

The layered models underlying flexible musical navigation aids such as configurable fingerboards, roadmaps and color coding of the thousands of modal routes through them- must be both consistent and (ultimately) available to users for the entire range of world music instruments and theory tools. Getting these models established is going to take time, but is very much within the realms of the possible.

Central to any such goal is a robust and carefully structured component reuse framework. With careful planning and preparation in the form of best practice guidelines, developing instrument and theory tool models for reuse and extension is an area where the open source community can be of phenomenal help. A little competition is perhaps no bad thing..

Big, brave, open-source, non-profit, community-provisioned, cross-cultural and yakfart crazy. → Like, share, back-link, pin, tweet and mail. Hashtags? For the crowdfunding: #VisualFutureOfMusic. For the future live platform: #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory. Or simply register as a potential crowdfunder..

The Dilemna of Choice (Freepik)
The world music aggregator platform in focus here is foreseen as a public resource - community funded, moderated, managed and provisioned. These are -by any measure- demanding expectations. Of the many areas potentially delegable into the community, animated online instrument and theory tool models are possibly amongst the most potent.

Code golf, anyone?

Multiple Modelling Approaches

Potential Crowdfunder?

Depending on the conventions underlying a given instrument or theory tool, there may be multiple ways modelling it.

Established and potentially reusable components may already be available from amongst more or less 'standard' or 'off-the-shelf' data visualization implementations, others from earlier models and tools specific to this aggregator platform.

In the creation of a keyboard, for example, we may find ourselves able to choose between existing heat map, hexagonal binning or a variety of graph theory approaches, or to earlier instrument implementations embodying similar behaviours: representations of interval in a chromatic scale or the fingerboard of a related instrument.

Each is likely to render a functioning result, but -depending on the underpinning modularity- may vary in it's suitability of reuse. Some challenges will be overcome by customization, others by additional modules, and some, indeed, requiring a fresh take and possibly different solution paradigm.
At the end of the day, different approaches are likely to result in particular strengths. What is good in one situation may be less appropriate in another.

This process of selection and elimination underlies the creation of robust, pragmatic instrument model and theory tool hierarchies. There is no real shortcut. At the end of the day, however, a resource will be created which has wide application.


Coding templates reflecting established best practise will ease the path towards hierarchical code structure and reuse, but there are -especially initially- likely to be some challenges of understanding and compliance.

Generic Specific Instrument Model Heirarchy Geneology Family Tree. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Instrument Configurations: from Generic to Specific
There is no shortcut to code reuse. Modelling must be generic to specific, with strict attention to configuration freedom. Always.

Begin with underlying physical properties, progress through the characteristic layered components of any given instrument, and end with tunings, fingering roadmaps and behaviour under modification by (for example) capo or pedals.

Monthly Challenge

Fire Festival Throng. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheoryFor this reason, from the point at which a simulator can be brought online, collaborative monthly community challenges are foreseen.
These can be thought of as friendly group sprints, but with a clear goal of identifying a 'best of class' approach to a given implementation.

Starting with the underlying physical components, these will, therefore, focus on:
o code structure and reuse, both within themselves and in the greater context
o simplicity (implementation should not obscure an otherwise easily understood story)
o robustness under a variety of situations.
24-Tone Chromatic Circle. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
24-Tone Chromatic Circle

If not exhaustive, examples do already exist. Relative to a given scale, channel, wave length or, indeed, circle, for example, the positions of notes in a given temperament or intonation system can already be given, either as a distance, radial offset or proportion.
Amongst others, this has application amongst stringed instruments and the chromatic circle, but also (with factoring), in the circle of 5ths, 4ths and 3rds. Looking forward, it will likely find application in 3D theory models such as the helix (cylindrical spiral), pythagorean cone, or torus.
24-Tone Microtonal Guitar. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
24-Tone Microtonal Guitar

Looking Ahead

In the long run, the goal is that through discussion and experiment, both consensus and experience can be forged on which the community can build.

With time, other emerging technologies will come into play.

With machine intelligence support, for example, it is conceivable that a recording's instrumentation can be automatically recognised. Is this useful? If a new user's environment can be quickly and automatically configured, yes.
Alternatively, improved fingerings, a different instrument scale length or indeed alternative tunings might be suggested.


online music learning,
online music lessons
distance music learning,
distance music lessons
remote music lessons,
remote music learning
p2p music lessons,
p2p music learning
music visualisation
music visualization
musical instrument models
interactive music instrument models
music theory tools
musical theory
p2p music interworking
p2p musical interworking
comparative musicology
world music
international music
folk music
traditional music
P2P musical interworking,
Peer-to-peer musical interworking
WebGL, Web3D,
WebVR, WebAR
Virtual Reality,
Augmented or Mixed Reality
Artificial Intelligence,
Machine Learning
Scalar Vector Graphics,
3D Cascading Style Sheets,

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.