“Machinatuosity”: Virtual Strings, Spectral Filters and Temperament Tools for Esquisse


Richard Dudas


This paper describes the technological component underpinning the author’s composition Esquisse (in Memoriam J.-C. Risset), for piano and computer, in the form of real-time signal processing and synthesis implemented in the Max visual programming language. The computer part, designed specifically for this piece, incorporates some novel techniques, including an extension of the Karplus-Strong algorithm that permits the synthesis of string harmonics via one simple control parameter, and a spectral-domain filtering system based on comb-like harmonic filters which also incorporate spectral-domain bandpass “windows” the can be calculated on either a linear frequency or octave scale. The practical result of this is the ability to create harmonic filters representing a single formant of any size or full-spectrum harmonic filters whose fundamental changes in different parts of the spectrum. The piece also incorporates some specially designed tuning tools to reconcile the equal-tempered tuning of the piano with the use of the harmonic series in the electronics as a prevalent compositional device used throughout the piece.

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  • Published: Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Santiago, Chile, 2020-21 (forthcoming).
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  • View the paper at the online ICMC Proceedings website (forthcoming).

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