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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


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    1. 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

    2. 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

    3. 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

    4. 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?

    5. 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.

    6. 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

    7. 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

    8. Interactive Performance Philosophy • Leverage the existing skill of expert performers • Hyperinstruments by Tod Machover • Interested in unexplored phenomena

    9. 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).

    10. 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

    11. 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

    12. 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)

    13. 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

    14. 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.

    15. 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

    16. 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

    17. Gesture - Voice • Breath Support • Size of abdomen • Position (excitation) • Speed, change (modification) • Measured as significant • Confounder: the need for breath • Assisted by pitch information

    18. 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

    19. Technical Challenges • Breath Sensor • Merlin Stretch Sensor • Op Amp circuit • Miditron voltage-to-MIDI converter

    20. The Interface • Position, Velocity, Acceleration of: • Breath Sensor • Vocal cavity measurement • Pitch

    21. 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