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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cantillate

Musical Instrument Modeling: Lute Family Models (with Videos)

Lute (/luːt/). In the Hornbostel-Sachs instrument classification system, lutes have been assigned the designation '321' and are characterized as string instruments in which the resonator and string bearer are physically united (composite chordophones), the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table. This describes the instrument form.

So how could we model all lute family members at minimum overhead? How applicable might the techniques described here be to other instruments?

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

Lute Family Modeling


Note: some images in this post are drawn from external sites which you are encouraged to visit for further information.

Let's get some idea what visual forms the lute instrument family might take. These are examples of instruments which could theoretically be modeled from a generic lute base.
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Lute Family Instruments. Some Examples.

This is just a tiny selection. Keeping in mind the Hornbostel-Sachs classification number for lutes, you can browse others directly on these sites: Already from the above, though, we can derive some general guidelines or principles.

Each instrument has a box-like body, a characteristic scale length, a neck - possibly fretted, a tuning head, a characteristic temperament or intonation (describing the relationship between notes or tones), number of courses or other sound channels, and a set of tunings characteristic of the underlying culture or genre. With these, we can begin to think about musical function.

Is there anything we can (for economy's sake) eliminate? The important areas are those immediately under the hands - especially the fingering, as opposed to plucking or strumming, hand. Following the 80:20 or Pareto principle or rule (according to which 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes), the instrument body can on the whole be ignored.

Generic Configuration As Modeling Base

Let's see if we can bring form and function together.

Most instrument fingerboards lend themselves well to modeling from a generic base. Here a generic base for the Lute family.
Generic Lute Instrument Modelling Base #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Generic Lute Instrument Modelling Base

As we will later see, some five of six configuration decisions are all that are needed to define an entire fingerboard layout.

Each fingerboard derivation is then configured with it's temperament or intonation, number of notes or tones per octave, scale length, number of courses (were we talking of wind instruments, channels and of keyboard instruments, rows) or tuning.

For any given lute temperament or intonation, the chart to the right hints at the extent of configuration freedom we have, the main constraints being the construction strength and the limits of playability. Clearly, the further we move away from center along any one axis, the greater the limitations on the remaining ones.

In the following video (built to test feasibility rather than win a user interface design prize!), we see how we might (as part of the instrument 'build' process) configure and save a specific instrument (here, charango) for use by anyone.

This early prototype uses discrete menus, but ultimately dialog elements will be tied much more closely to the longitudinal and vertical fingerboard layout dimensions.

Loading from an Instrumental Preferences Menu
This process represents 'community provisioning', in the sense that a generic model can be used to create any thousands of specific configurations.

Community Usage

Here we see how members of the user community might load an instrument from their preferred instruments list.

Loading from an Instrumental Preferences Menu


Such an approach is more or less essential to any 'aggregator platform' for remote, person-to-person teaching.

Instrument Modeling: Identifying All Configuration Derivatives


In the video below (again a quick feasibility test), we see how we might -in one short session- cycle through any of several instrument configurations, saving the results of each for use by other users.

In quick succession, we see the definition of an Irish bouzouki, a typical violin (fiddle), a Turkish cura, a South American charango, an Arabic oud and an equal-tempered but microtonal (24 notes or tones per octave) guitar.


One generic (lute-like) instrument model. Countless fully interactive derivations.

Potential Crowdfunder?

Any specific instrument customisation can be configured in less than a minute, saved, and (potentially) made available for use by any and all users, worldwide. The only limitations are those imposed by the source music exchange format (think audio, midi, ABC and so on) and resulting music notation.

The tuning menu serves -at this point- mainly to allow crosschecking of behaviour with the currently loaded score. This, score-driven fingerings and much more are demonstrated in separate videos.

What has been done for lutes can naturally be done for other stringed instrument types such as harps and zithers, or indeed any of the other high-level instrument families, such as percussion, wind, brass and keyboards.

With time it should be possible to model at least 80% of the world's instruments in this way, providing a solid base for ventures into direct, person-to-person teaching and learning online.

Configuration Restraints

We have deliberately omitted hybrids from this post, but these remain an area of interest to instrumental innovators. Given the continuing pressure to find musical 'niches', is likely we will see more hybrids in the future, mixing various scale sound channel types, scale or channel lengths, temperaments or intonations and tunings.

There are, moreover, the simple physical constraints on instrument construction or play. The more courses a lute family instrument has, the shorter the sustainable scale length. Similarly, the more notes or tones to an octave, (likely) the fewer the number of courses or channels.

Associated Theory Tools

World Music Visualisation: Instruments And Theory Tools Are Intimately Related #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Instruments And Theory Tools
Are Intimately Related
The same principle can be applied to the associated theory tools: for each instrument configuration, the corresponding, dedicated theory tools and configuration.

As with instruments, theory tools may share or build on certain visual characteristics.

For this reason we have to be careful to keep the theory tool classification system equally simple to use and entirely pragmatic.

Find out more about this here.


Keywords



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
ethnomusicology
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,
SVG
3D Cascading Style Sheets,
CSS3D
X3Dom,
XML3D


Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.