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Advancements in Actuated Musical Instruments

  • Dan Overholt (a1), Edgar Berdahl (a2) and Robert Hamilton (a2)

This article presents recent developments in actuated musical instruments created by the authors, who also describe an ecosystemic model of actuated performance activities that blur traditional boundaries between the physical and virtual elements of musical interfaces. Actuated musical instruments are physical instruments that have been endowed with virtual qualities controlled by a computer in real-time but which are nevertheless tangible. These instruments provide intuitive and engaging new forms of interaction. They are different from traditional (acoustic) and fully automated (robotic) instruments in that they produce sound via vibrating element(s) that are co-manipulated by humans and electromechanical systems. We examine the possibilities that arise when such instruments are played in different performative environments and music-making scenarios, and we postulate that such designs may give rise to new methods of musical performance. The Haptic Drum, the Feedback Resonance Guitar, the Electromagnetically Prepared Piano, the Overtone Fiddle and Teleoperation with Robothands are described, along with musical examples and reflections on the emergent properties of the performance ecologies that these instruments enable. We look at some of the conceptual and perceptual issues introduced by actuated musical instruments, and finally we propose some directions in which such research may be headed in the future.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C Anderson . 2005. Dynamic Networks of Sonic Interactions: An Interview with Agostino Di Scipio. Computer Music Journal 29(3) (Fall): 1128.

C. Cadoz , A. Luciani , J.-L Florens . 1993. CORDIS-ANIMA: A Modeling and Simulation System for Sound and Image Synthesis – The General Formalism. Computer Music Journal 17(1) (Spring): 1929.

A Di Scipio . 2003. ‘Sound is the Interface’: From Interactive to Ecosystemic Signal Processing. Organised Sound 8(3): 269277.

A. Hoover 2000. Controls for Musical Instrument Sustainers. US Patent 6,034,316.

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Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
  • URL: /core/journals/organised-sound
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Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Overholt supplementary material
Sound example 3.aac

 Unknown (7.2 MB)
7.2 MB
Supplementary Materials

Overholt supplementary material
Sound example 2.aac

 Unknown (10.0 MB)
10.0 MB
Supplementary Materials

Overholt supplementary material
Sound example 1.aac

 Unknown (12.5 MB)
12.5 MB
Supplementary Materials

Overholt supplementary material
Movie example.mp4

 Video (76.7 MB)
76.7 MB


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