Digital Instrument Design
Here’s the first prototype of mubone, an augmented trombone outfitted with electronic sensors and controls. It takes advantage of the trombone’s directionality/physicality and incorporates movement/space as expressive inputs.
With support from the Marin Alsop Entrepreneurship Award and Harvestworks.
co-developer Travis West
video Peter Brensinger
audio Rebekah Wineman
colour Chantalle Clarkin
This video documents the application of the mubone in a 3D granular synthesis environment adapted from Nathan Weitzner’s real-time 3D granular synth patch and Chris Carlson’s Borderlands Granular. It also showcases on-instrument amplification inspired by Felix del Tredici’s creative use of karaoke microphones and Nicolas Collin’s plunger controller for !Trumpet. Travis West designed the augmentations (Slide ARM and tuning slide-mounted orientation sensor) and the software that goes with it. I rigged the speaker/plunger mute with wii-mote in the opening shot.
The orientation sensors enable the trombone to act as a virtual XYZ cursor, in other words, as a gestural controller that operates in 3D space. The trombonist’s sound is captured using a piezoelectric pick-up on the mouthpiece and the recorded sound is simultaneously granulated and distributed in the virtual 3D space around the performer. The method with which the grains are distributed can be based on pre-defined user parameters such as time index, RMS averages, spectral content, etc. But generally, a vis-a-vis distribution mode will be used, meaning that the virtual location of the recorded clip will correspond vis-a-vis the instrument’s physical orientation at the time of that clip’s recording. For example, if the trombone is pointing 90 degrees to the right of the player and parallel to the ground, any sound recorded in that specified space will be planted there, ready for recall if the trombone returns to that exact position. In essence, it is a looper that uses virtual 3D space to recall clips but powered by a suite of granular synthesis techniques such as grain duration or spread. The environment is interfaced with the player wirelessly, allowing for maximum movement potential and facilitating the cognitive liberty needed for improvisation and spontaneous decision making.
A Yoke Labs Production