Idea Update

Good News: Conducting thorough research, concerning extended guitar sound possibilities, during the month of November allowed me to further specify my project idea “Extended Guitar Performance”. By firstly discerning what has already been done in this area of musical research, I identified several commercials products (see the MIDI rings in Blog #6) as well as custom-made products (e.g. Blog #9 + Blog #10) that all deal with movement and/or gesture-controlled extension of guitar sounds. However, I also found that the bulk of these “gadgets” require the guitar player to move his body and hands in certain ways to specifically trigger the sensors built within the gadget. Consequently, the guitarist often needs to interrupt his natural playing movements in order to wave is hand for example. I saw this for myself when I tried to keep playing guitar in the usual way while incorporating special hand movements to trigger hypothetical sensors (having not built anything yet) – it proved to be almost impossible to maintain a typical rock groove for instance much less playing lead.

That is why I thought that it would be even better if one could extend a guitar’s sonic possibilities while at the same time not compromising the usual way people play guitar. Based on this notion, I decided to try finding a non-evasive way, restricting my idea to only using natural movements of a guitarist to trigger sensors in order to extend guitar sound possibilities.

Consequently, some changes to my previous idea will be made:

I will abandon the idea of attaching (accelerometer) sensors to the guitar body to pick up its movements because moving in a certain way again is not part of the natural movements of a guitarist.

Instead, I will focus on the “Solo Mode” effect, described in Blog #8, and effects based on the same concept since this kind of system allows the guitar player to move up and down the neck with effects adapting automatically to the fret position. During this week’s consultation session, I brought this idea before my supervisor, and he recommended looking into ultrasonic or infrared sensors to locate/pinpoint the left hand along the neck. This will, of course, be done. Furthermore, my supervisor also saw the possibility of using this system beyond switching from rhythm to lead sound. Additionally, one could define certain areas/positions on the fretboard that each give a slightly different sound, allowing the guitarist to change is sound according to fret position.

I will also further pursue the idea of placing an IMU type of sensor on the pick to pick up the natural strumming and picking movements of the guitarist. Here, it would have been practical to resort to one of the MIDI rings which are, however, quite expensive. At the moment, a custom setup is hence favoured.

Naturally, I will also continue to analyse a guitarist’s natural body and hand movements in order to come up with additional ways to harness them as an input source for guitar effects.

Lastly, upon the recommendation of my supervisor, I will not yet fully discard the possibility of using MIDI pick-ups. During my research I stumbled upon the Fishman Triple Play, a hexaphonic pick-up, capable of picking up the pitch of each string separately and converting it to MIDI data. Albeit coming with a huge price tag (300€ on Thomann), the pick-up constitutes another possibility of adding to a guitar’s sound potential without compromising the player’s usual movements. This will be given further thought.

Sources:

https://www.thomann.de/at/fishman_triple_play.htm

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