Designing simulacra or the electronic replication of a mechanical instrument

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


Proceedings of the 9th Sound and Music Computing Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, p.201-207 (2012)


Specific requirements of certain works of music, especially in the field of contemporary experimental music of the 19th century, are sometimes hard to meet when it comes to the performance. Special instruments or technologies are necessary and often no longer available, broken or their documentation is insufficient. This paper addresses this problem of performance practice in contemporary music by exploring the design of an electronic replacement of a mechanical instrument for the performance of the piece ``Mouvement - vor der Erstarrung'' by Helmut Lachenmann. The simulacra developed consist of a musical interface, a software for sound synthesis and a loudspeaker system. A focus is put on the challenge of synthesising and projecting the sound as close as possible to the original instrument and to fit the musical requirements of the piece. The acoustic integration of the electronic instrument into an ensemble of acoustic instruments was achieved by using an omni-directional loudspeaker. For the sound synthesis, a hybrid approach of sampling and additive synthesis was chosen. The prototypes developed were proven to be robust and reliable and the simulacra were generally well-accepted by performing musicians, surrounding musicians, conductor and audience.

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