Can traditional values be embedded into a digital object?
In this research we implement a special guitar that combines physical acoustic properties with virtual capabilities. A wooden resonator - a unique, replaceable piece of wood that gives the guitar a unique acoustic sound, will embody the acoustical values. The acoustic signal created by this wooden heart will be digitally processed in a virtual sound box in order to create flexible sound design.
Today’s tools and instruments, whether musical or graphical, fall into two very distinct classes, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Traditional physical instruments offer a richness and uniqueness of qualities that result from the unique properties of the physical materials used to make them. The hand crafted, construction qualities are also very important for those tools. In contrast electronic and computer based instruments lack this richness and uniqueness; they produce very predictable and generic results, but offer the advantage of flexibility: they can be many instruments in one. We propose a new approach to designing and building instruments, which attempts to combine the best of both. The approach is characterized by a sampling of the instrument's physical matter and its properties and complemented by a physically simulated, virtual shape. This approach to building digital objects maintains some of the rich qualities and variation found in real instruments (the result of natural materials combined with craft) with the flexibility and open-endedness of digital ones.
Graduate student Amit Zoran and the "Chameleon Guitar."
The Chameleon Guitar—so named for its ability to mimic different instruments—is an electric guitar whose body has a separate central section that is removable. This inserted section, the soundboard, can be switched with one made of a different kind of wood, or with a different structural support system, or with one made of a different material altogether. Then, the sound generated by the electronic pickups on that board can be manipulated by a computer to produce the effect of a different size or shape of the resonating chamber.