World Music's DIVERSITY and Data Visualisation's EXPRESSIVE POWER collide. A galaxy of INTERACTIVE, SCORE-DRIVEN instrument model and theory tool animations is born.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cantillate

Instrument Visualization: Fingering Controls

In accessing the musical score as a source of data for instrument model animations, a small range of new scenarios -and challenges- are encountered.
With the means, for example, to aggregate several voices into one instrument data flow, a small range of fingering optimisations may be required. There are several approaches to these - all of which for the meantime perhaps best left under user control.

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

Instrument Visualisation: Fingering Controls

Score Playback Selection at a Point in Time. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Score Selection at a Point in Time

Potential Crowdfunder?

Pre-Crowdfunding Registration (* indicates required)
Email Format

Score Handling

Score handling will ultimately allow not only the selection of one or more voices, but their aggregation, or bundling as a vertical section, for display on any of possibly several different instrument finger- or keyboards.

Moreover, it will be possible to mute, hide and transpose individual voices, using simple selections from items stored in the browser.

Instrument Layout Diversity

Even restricting ourselves to just one of the many instrument family subgroups - such as free reed instruments, the fingering possibilities can seem limitless.

In practice, however, even these can be broken down into sub-groupings or types by (for example) fingerboard layout: whether diatonic (Club, Irish, Musette, Ländler), chromatic, (B- or C-system, bayan), piano accordion, bandoneon or one of the many types of concertina (English, Anglo, Duet, Chemnitzer etc).

   


Three different concertina layouts
Reuse considerations feature prominently in building the layered, graphical hierarchies behind these layouts. It is also important to consider the ease with which intervals on the various fingering axes can be interrogated and graphically displayed.

Instrument Modelling: Problem Simplification

The main two aspects of concern to us, however, are

  • the fundamental keyboard hardware layout
  • musical range in terms of number of keys in each row
  • where general to the entire keyboard, the underlying interval patterns
Bouzouk Tuning Menu. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Bouzouk Tuning Menu
Given the breadth of variation in instrument building, is useful to treat the melody and bass sides of accordions as discrete entities.

Everything else is tuning, and can be easily -if at times a little tediously- mapped. Given the breadth of variation in instrument building, is useful to treat the melody and bass sides of accordions as discrete entities.

How are Fingering Roadmaps ..er.. Mapped?

Guitar Tuning Subsets (Ukelele, Mandola, Violin) #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Guitar Tuning Subsets (Ukelele, Mandola, Violin)
From a strategic point of view, there are degrees of sophistication in achieving configurable fingerings across a variety of instrument forms.
At the simplest level, we could, for example, just use subsets of instrument layouts having a wide tonal range. From the guitar, for example, we could take the tuning subsets associated with other common instruments such as ukelele, madola, banjo, violin or mandolin.
More sophisticated configuration strategies inevitably resort to detailed fingering data with the following goals:

  • decoupling tunings from specific instrument layouts.
  • Tuning subset reuse
  • Each tuning subset is guaranteed unique
  • the whole forms a tuning continuum data tree.

Documenting these here and now would drive a truck through my time planning, so the details will have to wait for a future update.

Display Using Heat Map
Coming back to layout, for simple, repeating instruments such lutes or the piano, simple arrays would suffice.

There are plenty of approaches to achieving layouts for more complex instruments. For a majority of cases, however, the Heat Map, a more or less standard data visualisation library feature, is fine.

For trickier layouts, there is ample scope for case-by-case community involvement.

On-The-Fly Pitch Adjustments

With several voices, however, the question arises of how to handle widely differing pitch, and especially the thorny question of recommended fingerings. Moreover, simple folk instruments are sometimes limited in range, or the notes native to the score too far apart to be fingered.

Fingerings can be optimised (anyone up for artificial intelligence or machine learning?), but are also an important aspect of style. This suggests that -whatever means are used to find recommended fingerings- ultimately there should always be freedom to override.

In these cases, traditional musicians (and especially those who learn by ear, where there are perhaps fewer playing taboos) use substitution:
  • Pitch Adjustment Controls. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
    Pitch Adjustment Controls
    pitch 'octavisation', whereby a note or tone is hiked as many octaves up or down as are necessary to bring the note into playing (or rather 'playable') range
  • substitution of another, harmonically compatible note
  • removal of effectively duplicate but octave-separated (enharmonic) notes
  • dropping a note entirely

The screenshot here is of an awkward first cut at these screen controls (this whole configuration interface is being revamped to make it more intuitive and better integrated with the instrument layout. More on that in a later post).

The screenshot also shows (in blue) the fingering history, that is to say where earlier fingering positions were found. Though early days, this is of potential help in devising practise exercises.

Cantillate

About Cantillate -

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

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.