The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) promotes better understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, restoration, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods. In June 2022, their annual meeting was held at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.
Historical Instruments in Virtual Acoustic Environments: A Framework for the Generation of Interactive Virtual Acoustic Objects and Multimodal Organological Datasets
Dominik Ukolov is a musicologist and PhD student at Leipzig University. He has taught electronic music, worked in the digitization project TASTEN, and is currently researcher at the project DISKOS. In Lisbon, he worked at CESEM and co-founded the association Netzwerk Digital Organology. His research and doctoral thesis focus on the audiovisual virtualization of musical instruments as well as on the analysis and synthesis of their data through artificial neural networks.
Musical instruments remain mostly silent and non-interactive in museums since conservation concerns rarely permit a daily playing by visitors. Nevertheless, quite a few instruments are theoretically playable and are occasionally restored or prepared for concerts and recordings with historical performance practice. After this, the instrument once again remains in a silent state and serves as an object that can only be experienced visually, but not auditorily. In the digitization project TASTEN, thirty-six historical keyboard instruments from the Museum of Musical Instruments at Leipzig University have been restored to a playable state for the purpose of recording them tone by tone and noise by noise, in order to obtain not only acoustic information, but also virtually playable digital “copies.” These virtual instruments can be played via MIDI keyboards or files in digital audio workstations or standalone applications, but also in web platforms like our lexical project musiXplora. With the use of virtual instruments, the silent historical instruments can be experienced interactively and made available worldwide, but the recording and programming of the instruments requires specific frameworks for an authentic implementation. In this research, the strategies for recording historical musical instruments have been examined, evaluated, and integrated into recording-assistant software. Furthermore, techniques for processing the audio material and methods for the implementation of acoustical and organological properties have been developed, which resulted in a new standard for virtual acoustic objects (VAOs), whereby three-dimensional sound fields and object data can also be included for augmented reality environments. These VAOs can be created, shared, examined and played on a newly created web platform, which also allows discussions about the virtualized musical instruments as well as the sharing of consistent acoustical and organological datasets for further research.