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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cantillate

Instrument Modelling: Lute Family (with Videos)

Lute (/luːt/). In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, lutes have the classification number 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. So how can we model all lutes at minimum overhead?

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Lute Family


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 modelled 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 with or without some form of fretting, a tuning head, it's characteristic temperament or intonation (fret layout), number of courses and a set of tunings common to the underlying culture or genre.

We can, for example, do away with representing the instrument body, as this is of only scant informational value to the user. While it may be helpful to show the strings under the plucking or strumming hand, often the information essential to this can be represented in the notation, tablature or, indeed, on the instrument fingerboard. Though remaining open to such views, for the meantime, we focus on the fingerboard.

Configuration

Most instrument fingerboards lend themselves well to modelling from a generic base. Here a generic base for the Lute family. As we will later see, working from this, there should be at most some five of six configuration actions needed to define the entire fingerboard layout.

Generic Lute Instrument Modelling Base #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Generic Lute Instrument Modelling Base


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.

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

In the following video (built to test feasibility rather than win a design prize), we see how we might configure and save a specific instrument (here, Charango) for use by anyone.

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 a user 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.

Repeatable Process


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.


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

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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.

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.

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.

Cantillate

About Cantillate -

Autodidact. Laird o' the Windy Wa's. Serial Failure with Attitude. Bit of a Dreamer..

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.