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With a Wave of My Voice. by Matthew Peters Warne Featuring Gwen Hughes, Vocals Committee: Dr. Sha Xin Wei, LCC, Chair Dr. Eugene Thacker, LCC Dr. Steven Everett, Emory, Music. Project Overview. Project Goals: Examine the voice as a gestural controller

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With a wave of my voice l.jpg

With a Wave of My Voice

by Matthew Peters Warne

Featuring Gwen Hughes, Vocals


Dr. Sha Xin Wei, LCC, Chair

Dr. Eugene Thacker, LCC

Dr. Steven Everett, Emory, Music

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Project Overview

  • Project Goals:

    • Examine the voice as a gestural controller

    • Use the voice as a source of continuous control for parameters in computer musical and digital media art work.

    • Develop tools for examining the impact of performers’ unintentional actions on the perception of performance events

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Project Overview

  • Theoretical analysis of the voice using Cadoz and Wanderley’s instrumental gesture typology

  • Application of this analysis to the development of a hardware and software interface which measures vocal phenomena

  • The composition of a improvisational work for voice and computer which use the interface’s features

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Calling Crick(alerbel)etsGwen Hughes, heroine

  • Our heroine explores a cave filled with crick(alerbel)ets. They sound cute enough, but they can’t be seen. If she calls to them will they reveal themselves? Or, will they run away?

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Calling Crick(alerbel)ets

  • Pitch Analysis:

    • Fundamental frequency identification

    • Note durations under one second are commonly ignored to reduce inclusion of indeterminate pitches

    • Data from other sensors is only collected when a pitch is identified

  • Breath Sensor

    • Sensor position is added to a running sum, when the pitch analysis recognizes a note.

    • Sum is used as the mechanism for pacing the piece

  • Vocal Cavity Analysis

    • Mouth openness determines the position of high- & low-pass filters and the frequency range of damping.

    • More open mouth = less-dampening, wider frequency range

    • One-to-one mapping between dampening and cavity size.

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Perception of Performance

  • Breath-based instruments

    • Breath as an excitation and modification gesture

    • Need of breath of life

  • Observation of performers breathing:

    • Conscious or unconscious?

      • Both?

      • Impact on our perception of the event

  • My approach: measure, amplify, and reflect previously peripheral phenomena on the performance

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Historical Context

  • A rich history of electric sound

    • 1920s: Thereminvox & Elektrophon - heterodyned radio-frequency oscillators

    • 1950s-60s: Electronic music studios - Paris, WDR Cologne, Colombia-Princeton, University of Illinois

    • Current: IRCAM, CCRMA (Stanford), CRCA (UCSD), ICMA, SEAMUS, EMF

  • Growth in “interactive composition” (1981) and interactive music

    • STEIM, MIT, NIME, Trends in Gestural Control of Music

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Interactive Performance Philosophy

  • Leverage the existing skill of expert performers

    • Hyperinstruments by Tod Machover

  • Interested in unexplored phenomena

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The Voice

  • Synthesis:

    • Bicycle Built for Two (Matthews, Miller 1960)

    • Physical Modeling

      • Kelly and Lochbaum (1961)

      • Sheila (Cook 1989-96) .

  • Music concréte

    • Credo in Us (Cage, 1942)

    • Gesange der Junglinge (Stockhausen, 1955-56)

    • Thema: Omaggio a Joyce (Berio, 1958)

    • Epitaph für Aikichi Kuboyama (Eimer, 1960-62)

    • Philomel (Babbitt, 1964).

  • Current Forms

    • The Vox Cycle (Wishart, 1986) and Voiceprints (Wishart, 1998)

    • More than Idle Chatter (Lansky, 1992) and Idle Chatter Junior (Lansky, 2001

    • Skipped Stones: A Comparison on Two Seasons (Warne, 1999).

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Analyzed Voice

  • Voice analyzed for computer decision making

    • Joan La Barbara

      • Voice Windows (1986) in collaboration with video artists Woody and Steina Vasulka

      • Events in the Elsewhere (1990)

    • Butch Rovan

      • Vis-á-Vis (2001)

  • The voice for cuing, scripting, and influencing variables -- not as a source of continuous control

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The Voice

  • If:

    • The voice is considered “arguably the oldest … and most expressive of musical instruments”(Cook 2004)

    • Long tradition of composition for the voice, including in electronic music compostion

    • Computer music is well established

    • Interest in interactive performance has grown greatly in last 25 years

  • Then, why are there no instruments which use the voice as a source of control?

    • No sweeping arm gestures?

    • Difficulty of getting data about the voice, other than from microphone data

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Gesture - Music

  • No single defintion of gesture, but…

    • Context specific

    • All deal with a direct or indirect reference to human activity

    • A distinction should be made between:

      • Significant: “gestures produced” (breath)

      • Signified: “gestures evoked” (vocal cavity)

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Instrumental Gesture Typology

  • Functional approach: the possible funtions a gesture could serve in a specific context

    • Phenomenological approach

  • Effective Gesture: gesture mechanically necessary to produce the sound

    • Instrumental Gesture

      • Physical

      • Repeatable and Controllable

      • Potential Basis for Communication

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Instrumental Gesture Typology

  • Excitation gesture – the provision of energy present in the audible phenomena

    • Can be instantaneous (i.e., plucked or struck) or continuous (i.e., bowed or blown)

  • Modification gesture – a change of the instruments properties without the addition of significant energy added to the resulting sound.

    • Parametric

      • Discrete (i.e., movement along a single string on a violin)

      • Continuous (i.e., vibrato)

    • Structural (i.e., muting a trumpet)

  • Selection gesture – a choice between similar elements on an instrument (i.e., selecting between the 2nd and 3rd string on a violin).

    • Selection gestures neither add energy to the sound nor modify an instrument’s properties.

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Gesture - Voice

  • Applied to the voice:

    • Breath pushed out of the lungs by the diaphragm is an excitation gesture.

    • Breath pushed out of the lungs by the diaphragm is a parametric modification gesture (i.e., amplitude)

    • Changes in the larynx are parametric modification gestures (pitch, primarily).

    • Changes in the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs are parametric modification gestures (timbre, primarily).

  • Simplicity highlights the importance of phenomenological analysis

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Gesture - Voice

  • Vocal Cavity Change

    • Measured as signified

    • Open/Closed - Space in the mouth

      • Formants

        • Lips: Roundness

        • Tongue: up or down

        • Position: front or back

    • Continuous Control

    • Confounders: Pitch/Amplitude

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Gesture - Voice

  • Breath Support

    • Size of abdomen

      • Position (excitation)

      • Speed, change (modification)

    • Measured as significant

    • Confounder: the need for breath

      • Assisted by pitch information

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Technical Challenges

  • Max/MSP

    • Dual platform: Mac OS X, Windows XP

      • Externals, Abstractions, and Plug-ins (VST)

  • Cavity

    • No existing objects

      • LPC would likely be the preferred technique

    • FFT attempts

      • Peak detection

      • Fiddle~

    • Notched band-pass filter, with amplitude measurment

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Technical Challenges

  • Breath Sensor

    • Merlin Stretch Sensor

    • Op Amp circuit

    • Miditron voltage-to-MIDI converter

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The Interface

  • Position, Velocity, Acceleration of:

    • Breath Sensor

    • Vocal cavity measurement

    • Pitch

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With a Wave of My Voice

by Matthew Peters Warne

Featuring Gwen Hughes, Vocals


Dr. Sha Xin Wei, LCC, Chair

Dr. Eugene Thacker, LCC

Dr. Steven Everett, Emory, Music