Vochlea: Prototyping Music

Royal College of ArtUnited Kingdom

Expressing

Production / Student

Team

George Philip Wright

Overview

Vochlea is a revolutionary project to enable easy capture and expression of musical ideas. Expressing an idea is all about converting a thought into something that can be communicated to and understood by someone else. When it comes to music we are all capable of composition in our head, but few of us are able to outwardly express this music.
Vochlea is a prototyping tool developed to tackle this challenge and translate musical ideas into audible reality. Embodied in a handheld device, the system profiles the voice of the user and translates their input sound into output instrumentation. Imagine a device where your beatboxing can be translated to real-time drums, your humming into a controlled and intricate guitar melody. This is the power of Vochlea.

This system completely transforms the ease with which we can prototype new musical ideas. No longer are we limited to our skills as an instrumentalist or music producer, but now anyone capable of humming a tune can create rich, real sounding music.

During the process of developing this project I worked with many musicians; young and old, experienced to complete novices. One of the challenges that united them all was in how they converted musical ideas from a sound in their head into audible music.

By far the most common way to do this, at the initial stage of music creation, is to hum, sing, la, or in whichever way express the desired sound using our voice. This makes complete sense as the voice is our built-in instrument for musical expression, and one we have been practicing daily since birth.

However, although we have a lot of control over our voices and we can put detailed and complex information into our sounds, we can’t necessarily achieve the timbre, tonality or sound quality that we can from other instruments.  But what if an instrument could learn the player, could listen to the sounds they make and understand the meaning behind their expressions, automatically converting their vocalisations into the desired output. Now even a child with no training on traditional instruments can create a multi layered song by beatboxing the drums, humming the bassline and singing the guitar. Vochlea opens up music creation to everyone and greatly enhances the way we can create new music. It is the future of musical prototyping.

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