Public Event: Musical Instruments – Understanding the Old and Inventing the New

The Acoustics and Audio Group is delighted to announce a day of public lectures, workshops, and demonstrations on February 20th, 2016.

Musical Instruments: Understanding the Old and Inventing the New, will bring together researchers from across the EU in a day of exciting events that combine music, science, and technology.

The event marks the conclusion to a major 5-year project on interdisciplinary training in acoustics and audio technology, a 13-partner project called BATWOMAN.

The day begins at 10am, and takes place in the University of Edinburgh’s renowned Reid Concert Hall.

Programme of Events

  • 10.00am – Welcome
  • 10.05am – Organ performance by Dr John Kitchen
  • 10.15am – Pipe organs: the old and the new
    • Dr Alan Woolley explains the history of the organ and its mechanical and tonal structure. Dr John Kitchen, world renowned organist and scholar, explains how this relates to the instrument’s sole purpose of making music.
  • 10.45am – Shock waves in trombones: nonlinear sound propagation and brass instrument taxonomy
    • The phenomenon of nonlinear sound propagation accounts for one of the most striking features of brass instrument playing, the brassy sound of a trombone fortissimo. The mechanism responsible for this is also a factor in the brightness of some brass sounds at lower dynamics, and has been shown to be dependent on the geometry of the windway through the instrument. The degree to which a brass instrument engenders nonlinear sound propagation is thus under the control of the instrument designer, who consciously or unconsciously creates instruments to produces a desired sound quality. This talk explores the reasons why trumpets sound different from flugelhorns, and trombones sound different from euphoniums, defining a ‘brassiness potential parameter’ based on instrument dimensions which can be used to classify brass instruments in a way that reflects their characteristic timbres.
  • 11.15am – Coffee Break
  • 11.30am – The Tintignac carnyx and its acoustical story
    • The carnyx is an instrument which was used by Celtic peoples in various parts of Europe around 2000 years ago. In September 2004 an excavation leaded by Chritophe Maniquet at Tintignac (Naves, Corrèze district of France) revealed a buried horde of bronze instruments, including a lot of parts of several different carnyxes. Some of the parts have been put together to make an almost complete carnyx. A brass copy and a bronze copy of this carnyx have been made by Jean Boisserie. These copies have been studied by using modern measurement set-ups and theoretical approaches in Le Mans and Edinburgh acoustic labs. The question of the bore profile and the possible influence of thin large ears on the carnyx head have been investigated.
  • 12.00pm – Dragon Voices: Performances on the carnyx and other ancient horns
    • The composer and virtuoso brass performer John Kenny plays compositions from his recently released Delphian CD on reproductions of the Scottish Deskford Carnyx, the French Tintignac Carnyx, and the Irish Loughnashade Horn.
  • 12.30pm – Lunch Break
  • 2.00pm – Electronic augmentation and the development of new hybrid instruments
    • This talk discusses the electronic extension of traditional musical instruments through the use of electro-mechanical devices. One example is the application of active control to a wind instrument resonator in order to alter its behaviour; another is the replacement of the sound excitation component of an instrument by an electronic equivalent to create a hybrid instrument. These different examples will be considered in more detail during the talk.
  • 2.45pm – Electric Violin and Cello Enhancement Using Real Time Emulation Systems
    • A range of real-time systems has been developed to enhance the sound produced by electric violins and cellos. These operate by digitally convolving the signals produced by the vibrating string with the impulse response of a suitably selected, high quality wooden instrument. Measurement of the impulse response most be conducted with care to ensure the quality and authenticity of the final synthesised sound. Further, improvements to the timbre can be made by exploiting the spatial dependency of the impulse response. A number of listening studies have been conducted using trained musicians which confirm the viability of the approach
  • 3.30pm – Coffee Break
  • 3.45pm – Skoog, to accessibility and beyond!
    • For many people with disabilities the principle barriers to making music are the instruments themselves. In 2006 in partnership with NESTA a team from Edinburgh University set about creating a new kind of musical instrument. One that was designed for children, and more specifically one that would be accessible to all children, including those with physical or learning disabilities. This was how Skoog was born. In 2009 Skoogmusic ltd was formed and in 2010 they began shipping the first Skoog to customers around the world. Since then the team has continued to work in partnership with users and industry partners to evolve Skoog and recently released the most recent version for iOS with Apple inc. This talk will explore the science behind Skoog and the different challenges the team faced in developing a new musical instrument specifically for disabled users. They will also demonstrate their latest Skoog and their may even be some time for some Skoog jams!
  • 4.30pm – Next Generation Sound Synthesis: the NESS project