Structured musical performance support:
The use of computer driven pitch and rhythm recognition and correction.
Ultimately, the application will aid users in developing their abilities to
express themselves musically through a series of exercises. The reward is the
magic of music created in a group setting. The project could have several
levels of difficulty, each one building on the skills of the previous. The user
should be free to explore. They should be able to skip areas that bore them as
well as explore areas that might presently be beyond their musical grasp.
User input could take the form of a keyboard, touch screen, or rear projection
table. The exercises could start out with simple tasks such as mimicking a
single tempo generated by the machine. The accuracy of the user could be
displayed graphically on a video monitor. The exercises could progress to
playing a counterpoint rhythm to the computers, to practicing multi tempos of
say "3 on 4" or "2 on 3" between the users left and right hands. Group rhythmic
exercises could also be written. Advanced exercises could teach parididdles or
other drumming rudiments.
The pitch of the users voice could be captured through the use of a headset
microphone. The exercises could start simply by having the user echo a single
pitch that is generated by the computer. The closeness of the pitch of the users
voice versus the computers can be monitored with a graphic representation. Once
the user is comfortable with echoing unison pitch, other intervals can be
explored, such as octaves, fifths, thirds, etc. When the user is comfortable
with intervals, they can progress on to short melodies, and then harmonize with
the computer. The whole time, they will be getting feedback as to how they are
doing. If they slip up, the program could encourage them to try again. If they
fail repeatedly, the program might suggest a previous exercise.
Once the solo exercises have served their purpose the system could be extended
to support group play. Users could be given short sections of songs to learn a
piece at a time. Some users can sing, others can play rhythms, still others
could do both. The system should be extensible to at least four players. Virtual
rhythmic percussion palettes could be selected by the user or by the computer as
needed by the piece that was being performed. The whole experience could take
place around a touch sensitive, rear projection circular table. Performances can
be written and stored in the system to be taught to players.
Solo learning sessions could be replaced by group learning sessions that focus
solely on the smallest building blocks of a given piece. This would have the
advantage of getting the group making music (and hopefully having fun) as
quickly as possible.
The basic idea is that almost everyone is capable of creating music at some
level. Some people shy away from the activity because of embarrassing results or
because the effort and discipline involved seems overwhelming. By allowing the
computer to play "the ultimately patient conductor", users can progress at their
own rate. By allowing users to practice alone, or with friends that used to be
"non-musical" the embarrassing aspects are hopefully minimized. Focusing on
small blocks of achievement allows the users to "get it right" as quickly as
possible, hopefully minimizing the frustrating aspects of structured group