The emerging field of digital hybrid musical instruments integrates traditional acoustic instruments and/or the performer with electronic technologies such as microphones and sensors. The captured data is sent to a computer to be processed and used to drive other forms of audiovisual media, including playback on loudspeakers and video projectors. However, performers using these technologies for the violin or viola often point to a pronounced mismatch between the experienced energy emanating directly from the instrument and that which is heard from loudspeakers far away. Thus, a technology that effectively channels the direct audio and tactile vibrations to the performer would result in a hybrid playing experience that is more traditional, intimate, and intuitive.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a shoulder rest with haptic feedback for the violin or viola that takes the place of a traditional, inert shoulder rest. With two exciters installed on opposite ends of this shoulder rest, the violinist can couple a variety of different signals with the shoulder rest that can be felt by the body and/or heard by the player. The system can be driven by a metronomic pulse, for instance, so that the player can practice to a vibro-tactile pulse rather than auditory signal. In the context of digital performance, output from the violin recorded and processed by a computer in real-time can be used to drive the exciters, thereby creating a more unified, multimodal performance experience.
A video demonstration can be accessed here.
An unmodified shoulder rest attached to the backside of a violin.
The modified shoulder rest and associated electronics.
• Digital and hybrid musical instruments
• Augmented reality
Benefits and Advantages
• Couples the auditory output of the system with the feel of the instrument, creating a more traditional performance experience
• Opens possibilities for silent vibratory coordination, cuing, and conducting
• Understated integration preserves the visual beauty of the violin