A Study of Multimodal Guitar Augmentation for Gestural Expressivity

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science

Abstract

EPSRC : Adan Benito : EP/S022694/1

The invention of the electric guitar at the beginning of the 20th century sparked a musical and cultural revolution that changed, not only how music was made and listened to, but also how new instruments were designed. However, new trends in popular music and in both electronic and digital advances, could be causing what many media outlets have called the demise of the guitar as a driver for cultural change.

Although the electric guitar has widely been valued as a vehicle for musical expression, many of the efforts that have been carried out to bring the instrument up to date with the era of digital music fail to capture that richness. Attempts at creating interfaces based on the guitar using either sensors or analysis of the sound produced by the instrument have been carried out in the past but, given the complexity of the analysis of musical gestures and the translation of expressive meaning, these methods have never been widely adopted.

With this research we propose to validate an augmented instrument prototype based on a guitar with sensors and an hexaphonic pickup to detect different kinds of string bending, a technique commonly used by guitarist to raise the pitch of the string to add articulation to their playing. This gesture has been popularly said to provide singing and talking qualities to guitar playing.

We will extract information from both the audio signals produced by the instrument and sensors that detect string movement to obtain enhanced information enhanced information on how guitarists use this resource. We will then analyse how performers interact with the instrument during performance to assess the importance of this technique and to generate data that would later be used to better understand the characteristics of string bending as an expressive tool.

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