All scientific work is incomplete– whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time — Sir Austin Bradford Hill

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Invisible Instruments

I dislike the idea of limitation. As a musician, knowing that an instrument at hand is bound to its own subset of timbres (however expansive) was frustrating. Moreover, classical instruments seemed to always be approached in a prescriptive manner rather than a much more creativity-inspiring descriptive approach.

The goal of Invisible Instruments is to create a versatile tool in music-making open to greater physical mobility and free to a wider set of timbres (i.e. the electronically generated or reproduced). Initially, for demonstration purposes, I am re-creating various existing instruments.

Kickstarter Campaign - 5/5/2011 - The project was uploaded to the crowdsourcing site, as a means of generating funding for building standalone software (rather than using external software) as well as testing the market/interest. Unfortunately, the funding goal of $10,000 was not reached (short by $2,500) although the project was offered to be externally funded by several venture capitalist firms. I took this as a sign to move on -- at least for now -- from the project as my primary interests lie in patient-side medical technologies rather than in music. This was more of a hobby. Thank you to everyone who supported me in this project, Thank you to MTV for the MTV O Award, and all the musicians out there who tried everything to make this project a more public reality. I may come back to this project perhaps one day, but for now, see you on the medical field!

At right: Awesome Foundation Event - 3/5/2011 - The brilliant and amazing folks at the Awesome Foundation are actually who is truly responsible for the revival of this project from its dormancy. I submitted this project to them on a 3 AM lack-of-sleep whim and by golly they liked it. They introduced me to MusicHackDay, and rest is history -- present. Anyhoo, I demoed the same set of instruments as the NY Tech Meet-up, but people came up and played around with the instruments afterwards (scroll down for videos!)

At right: NY Tech Meet-up - 3/1/2011 Demo at the NY Tech MeetUp. I was lucky enough to be Hack of the Month and was able to present this project at this fantastic venue/event. Thanks to all who attended!

At right: NEW Music Hack Day Violin - 2/13/2011 Quick video of the 2 minute demo. I completely rebuilt the invisible violin at Music Hack Day New York with the goal of having a truly gesturally controlled violin. Used Tuning Fork Gyroscope (Wiimote) + TouchOSC (iphone app) + Max/MSP/Jitter + OSCulator to make it work. The previous version was based solely on buttons, the notes were quantized specifically for that song, and did not utilize the accelerometer or tuning fork gyroscope in the least -- in short, not a real instrument. (I built that previous one nine-months ago in a rush as I had forgotten my actual violin at home for a music theory class performance). That and since moving to Philly, I left all the equipment, software, etc back at Emory (they were the school's). As such, without any of my old files from college, I had to start anew and set out this weekend to built an actual invisible instrument, in addition to the project I built at Boston, for a music instrument competition the following week.

The Boston patch is up at the Boston Music Hack Day Wiki. I will post the invisible violin patch as soon as I get a version that doesn't require twenty steps of prep-work.

The newer version of the Inv Violin (versus the one in the first video) Using the same basic idea, I wanted to recreate the violin but purely with gestural control. If you look closely I am actually controlling everything via button-press in that first video... hardly an actual violin. Back then, the Wii-mote w/o the Plus made it difficult to generate any useful data without IR to help calibrate position. With the addition of the tuning fork gyroscope, I was finally able to map gestural control in real time.

At right: Invisible Guitar - 10/17/2010 - A quick version of the invisible guitar design at Boston's Music Hack Day. Wiimote + Ipod Touch (TouchOSC) + Max/MSP. Feel free to email if you have questions!

At right: Invisible Violin - Using an I-cube Touch Glove and a Wii-mote (as made available by Emory University), I constructed an invisible violin using a Max/MSP patch. The video was actually only recorded since I had forgotten my actual violin and urgently needed to record a piece I composed for class. Furthermore, the patch, as it was written to include other course assignments, includes much seemingly extraneous functionalities. In this recording, the input was quantized to an eighth-note. Currently, however, the patch is extremely specific to its software and hardware; I hope to release a more universal version soon. Update: Yes, the gestures in this vid are just for show. Sorry, I don't have this patch anymore.

Future Plans
- Compose something with the instrument! (And release a public version eventually.)


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