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Computer Engineering Senior Projects

I am available to supervise a limited number of senior projects. I would like to explore some topics dealing with the relationship of technology to music, and possibly other art-forms. Here are some of my initial thoughts on possible projects.

One of the problems in the application of computer technology to music is the problem of interfacing. The interfaces available for computers are very much unlike those used for musical instruments (e.g. violin bows, saxophone reeds, etc.) A good description of the problem can be found at this site.

Possible projects:

  1. The project would involve designing a control interface for use in the Electro-Acoustic Music Laboratory. The initial concept involves using an existing instrument such as a MIDI guitar to control functions other than those intended by the instrument's designer. This would involve the design of a software interface that could map the measured quantities into other control functions, possibly in an interdependent way. Some type of interface hardware would probably be required as well.
  2. The project would look at an existing interface, which is the +15V/-15V analog standard defined by Moog in the late 1960s. In this case, the user interface was patch cords and potentiometers. Those old systems have long ago been scrapped or sold to collectors. However, this interface could be simulated on a computer. The question would be whether the sound-generating functions could be totally performed in software, or whether some additional hardware would be required. Obviously this depends on the complexity of the device being dealt with.
  3. The project would involve automatic generation of musical events (e.g. notes and other qualities) based on pseudo-random sequences. The performer interface would involve high-level control of the redundancy and range of the events being generated, while specific details would be generated automatically.
  4. Additional projects might involve the building of unusual interface devices, for example something that could be worn as an article of clothing. One idea would be to use motion detectors in the sleeve of a garment to detect a violinist's bowing pattern.

A second area of research involves real-time performance. This is a subject which is just becoming technically possible, so there are still many unexplored possibilities.

Possible projects:

  1. Real-time detection of pitch, amplitude, and/or other characteristics of musical sounds using intelligent control of filter hardware. The accuracy of the detection could vary according to the intended use of the information.

We are still thinking of other projects, and are open to suggestions.

Dr. Brian Belet from the School of Music is willing to help in defining or modifying these project ideas. He can also arrange the use of the facilities of the Electro-Acoustic Music Laboratory (subject to demand), and could provide some music students to test how well the projects work in practice.