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Physical Interfaces For Applications In Music

Date and Time
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
Kenneth Steiglitz
Since the 1960s at the latest, the computer has been capable of digitally synthesizing any perceivable sound. However, in a live context, human-computer interfaces limit the bandwidth and quality of the interaction between the performer and the sound synthesizer. This talk focuses on physical interfaces for music, which operate according to the laws of physics to seamlessly and intimately connect musicians with sound synthesizers. In particular, we study how to design interfaces that assist a performer in making musical gestures. For example, the haptic drum provides a performer's drumstick with an extra push every time that the performer strikes the drum. This device allows the performer to make gestures that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible, such as arbitrarily long one-handed drum rolls and arbitrarily complex rudiments. Next, we explain how to assist a performer in accurately selecting pitches from a continuous range on a Theremin-like haptic interface. We augment it with detents allowing the performer to feel the locations of equal-tempered pitches, yet the performer can still perform arbitrary pitch inflections such as glissandi, falls, and scoops. With the help of a subject test, we demonstrate that traditional detents as well as novel force-sensitive detents can provide accuracy improvements over simpler types of haptic feedback, such as spring feedback. In closing, we relate the work to research in robotics and mixed reality.
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