I will be demoing an early digital music workstation at the Flanders 2023 Science Day. During the Science Day there will be demonstrations of several of the electronic music heritage instruments of the collection of IPEM, which used to be an early electronic music production studio. In the collection is a vintage analog synthesizer (an EMS Synthi 100), a Yamaha DX7, an analog plate reverb audio effect processor and, finally, a NeXTcube with a unique sound-card and early digital music workstation software.
The NeXTcube is an influential machine in computing history. The NeXTcube, with an additional soundcard, was also one of the first off-the-shelf devices for high-quality, real-time music applications. I have restored a NeXTcube to run an early version of MAX, an environment for interactive music applications. This combination of software and hardware was developed at IRCAM and was known as the IRCAM Musical Workstation or IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation. See my previous blog posts on Electronic Music and the NeXTcube and USBMIDI interface for the NeXTCube
Fig: the NeXTcube’s design stood out compared to the contemporary beige box PCs.
The IPEM collection of electronic music instruments is unique with the aim to reintroduce the instruments into daily music practice an turn them into living heritage. For example in 2020, the Dewaele Brothers released the album made exclusively on the IPEM ‘EMS Synthi 100’ synthesizer. The NeXTcube demo will be hands-on as well. See you there!
I have been lucky to have been involved in an interdisciplinary research project around the low impact runner: a music based bio-feedback system to reduce tibial shock in over-ground running. In the beginning of October 2022 the PhD defence of Rud Derie takes place so it is a good moment to look back to this collaboration between several branches of Ghent University: IPEM , movement and sports science and IDLab.
The idea behind the project was to first select runners with a high foot-fall impact. Then an intervention would slightly nudge these runner to a running style with lower impact. A lower repetitive impact is expected to reduce the chance on injuries common for runners. A system was invented in which musical bio-feedback was given on the measured impact. The schema to the right shows the concept.
I was involved in development of the first hardware prototypes which measured acceleration on the legs of the runner and the development of software to receive and handle these measurement on a tablet strapped to a backpack the runner was wearing. This software also logged measurements, had real-time visualisation capabilities and allowed remote control and monitoring over the network. Finally measurements were send to a Max/MSP sonification engine. These prototypes of software and hardware were replaced during a valorization project but some parts of the software ended up in the final Android application.
Video: the left screen shows the indoor positioning system via UWB (ultra-wide-band) and the right screen shows the music feedback system and the real time monitoring of impact of the runner. Video by Pieter Van den Berghe
Over time the first wired sensors were replaced with wireless Bluetooth versions. This made the sensors easy to use and also to visualize sensor values in the browser thanks to the Web Bluetooth API. I have experimented with this and made two demos: a low impact runner visualizer and one with the conceptual schema.
Vid: Visualizing the Bluetooth Low Impact Runner sensor in the browser.
The following three studies shows a part of the trajectory of the project. The first paper is a validation of the measurement system. Secondly a proof-of-concept study is done which finally greenlights a larger scale intervention study.
Van den Berghe, P., Six, J., Gerlo, J., Leman, M., & De Clercq, D. (2019). Validity and reliability of peak tibial accelerations as real-time measure of impact loading during over-ground rearfoot running at different speeds. Journal of Biomechanics, 86, 238-242.
Van den Berghe, P., Lorenzoni, V., Derie, R., Six, J., Gerlo, J., Leman, M., & De Clercq, D. (2021). Music-based biofeedback to reduce tibial shock in over-ground running: A proof-of-concept study. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-12.
Van den Berghe, P., Derie, R., Bauwens, P., Gerlo, J., Segers, V., Leman, M., & De Clercq, D. (2022). Reducing the peak tibial acceleration of running by music‐based biofeedback: A quasi‐randomized controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
There are quite a number of other papers but I was less involved in those. The project also resulted in two PhD’s:
Motor retraining by real-time sonic feedback: understanding strategies of low impact running (2021) by Pieter Van den Berghe
Running on good vibes: music induced running-style adaptations for lower impact running (2022) by Rud Derie
Thanks to the support of a travel grant by the faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University I was able to attend the ISMIR 2018 conference. A conference on Music Information Retrieval. I am co author on a contribution for the the Late-Breaking / Demos session
The structure of musical scales has been proposed to reflect universal acoustic principles based on simple integer ratios. However, some studying tuning in small samples of non-Western cultures have argued that such ratios are not universal but specific to Western music. To address this debate, we applied an algorithm that could automatically analyze and cross-culturally compare scale tunings to a global sample of 50 music recordings, including both instrumental and vocal pieces. Although we found great cross-cultural diversity in most scale degrees, these preliminary results also suggest a strong tendency to include the simplest possible integer ratio within the octave (perfect fifth, 3:2 ratio, ~700 cents) in both Western and non-Western cultures. This suggests that cultural diversity in musical scales is not without limit, but is constrained by universal psycho-acoustic principles that may shed light on the evolution of human music.
“Since 2005, the Italian Research Conference on Digital Libraries has served as an important national forum focused on digital libraries and associated technical, practical, and social issues. IRCDL encompasses the many meanings of the term “digital libraries”, including new forms of information institutions; operational information systems with all manner of digital content; new means of selecting, collecting, organizing, and distributing digital content…"
The 26th of January Federica presented our joint contribution titled “Applications of Duplicate Detection in Music Archives: from Metadata Comparison to Storage Optimisation”. The work focuses on applications of duplicate detection for managing digital music archives. It aims to make this mature music information retrieval (MIR) technology better known to archivists and provide clear suggestions on how this technology can be used in practice. More specifically applications are discussed to complement meta-data, to link or merge digital music archives, to improve listening experiences and to re-use segmentation data.
The xOSC board by x-io technologies looks like a very nice solution in many interactive wireless setups. Judging from the specifications and documentation it offers a lot of value. It is basically a small WiFi transmitter with some sensors and a battery attached to it. The board also has some drawbacks. 1) It is expensive at about € 180. This is especially problematic if you need about five or so for your application.2) It seems that it is also hard to add extra sensors via SPI or I²C. 3)The battery needs to be removed to charge, which makes it harder to build into a fixed enclosure. This post describes an alternative based on the ESP32 platform that addresses these shortcomings.
The ESP32 is a micro-controller with a WiFi transmitter which can be programmed using the Arduino environment. Sparkfun has a thing called the ESP32 Thing which contains the ESP32 chip. It can be used to build an xOSC alternative.
It costs about 20$, when you add a battery 5$ and a sensor 20$ (IMU) you end up with a 45$ price tag. The price of course depends on which exact sensor/battery you need for your application. A 500mAh lasts about two hours when sending 66 messages per second over WiFi (using UDP).
The ESP32 Thing supports the Arduino environment which potentially allows you to use all available Arduino libraries and supported sensors. However, some libraries do contain hardware specific instructions which are often not ported yet. Since the hardware is rather new – large scale production started only 3 months ago – not many libraries have been ported. Fortunately a lot of libraries simply work without any changes. At hackaday they have been testing a few: ESP32 and Arduino libraries. I had success with the BNO55 library, it did not need any changes. The OSC library did need some small changes to operate as expected.
The Thing contains a battery charging circuit. Once embedded into an enclosure the battery can stay in place. The software running on the device even keeps running when changing power sources.
Attached to this post you can find modifications to the Andriod OSC library that enable it to run on the ESP32: ESP32-Arduino-OSC-library together with a patch that sends random data over OSC. This should enable you to build an xOSC alternative.
Some drawbacks of the ESP32 is that the supporting software is quite immature. There is a Bluetooth chip on the ESP32 which is currently not supported in the Arduino environment. The setup can be somewhat challenging. The documentation can be improved. Some of the ESP32 Things seem to be unable to connect to old WiFi routers which can be problematic.
I have given a presentation at the the Newline conference, a yearly event organized by the Hackerspace Ghent. It was about:
“In this talk I will give a practical overview on how to connect hard- and software components for musical applications. Next to an overview there will be demos! Do you want to make a musical instrument using a light sensor? Use your smartphone as an input device for a synth? Or are you simply interested in simple low-latency communication between devices? Come to this talk! More concretely the talk will feature the Axoloti audio board, Teensy micro-controller with audio board, MIDI and OSC protocols, Android MIDI features and some sensors.”
During the presentation the hard and software components were demonstrated. More concretely an introduction was given to the following:
Aangezien heel wat joggers met muziek trainen, wilden onderzoekers van het IPEM (het onderzoekscentrum van de afdeling Musicologie, Vakgroep Kunst-, Muziek-, en Theaterwetenschappen aan de UGent) nagaan of het tempo van muziek de pasfrequentie tijdens het lopen kan beïnvloeden. Eerdere studies hadden al aangetoond dat muziek een motiverend effect kan hebben op sportprestaties en dat een hogere pasfrequentie blessurepreventief kan werken.
Een neerslag van het onderzoek is te lezen in het artikel Spontaneous Entrainment of Running Cadence to Music Tempo. Het persbericht werd goed opgepikt door de media en ook de lokale televisiezender AVS vertoonde interesse. Een cameraploeg kwam langs en dit resulteerde in volgend verslag. In het verslag spelen mijn vriendin en ikzelf een figurantenrol. De hoofdrol is weggelegd voor Dieter.
This post describes how to get notifications from a Bluetooth LE or Bluetooth v4.0 device on a Linux machine. Since it took me a while to get it going it is perhaps of interest to others.
The hardware I used is an RFduino board and a Belikin mini Bluethooth v4.0 adapter. The RFduino was programmed to wait for an event with RFduino_pinWake(pni, HIGH). When the pin is HIGH a count is incremented and this number is send to any device that is listening. In my case a Linux machine. The code is essentially the same as the button example included in the RDduino software distribution.
To install the Bluetooth stack on Debian the following command is executed sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez bluez-utils bluez-firmware. A blog post describes more about the Bluetooth tools. Some other interesting reads are Get started with Bluetooth Low Energy and this stackoverflow question. Once the stack is installed correctly the lescan utility should give an output like this:
Bluetooth LE works with the Generic Attribute Profile (GATT). A Bluetooth LE device can provide services by combining characteristics. These characteristics are the way to communicate with the device. Some characteristics are writable and are able to send notifications. To receive notifications one such characteristic (referred to with a hex handle) needs to be written. Write 0100 to get notifications, 0200 for indications (indications are notifications that are acknowledged), 0300 for both, or 0000 for nothing (default). With this in mind, the following command enables listening for notifications:
With those commands working, the process can be automated with a Ruby script to get Bluetooth LE notifications. The script essentially calls gatttool with the correct parameters and parses and reacts to its output. To make it work lescan needs to be called before starting the script:
The 27th of November, 2014 a lecture on audio fingerprinting and its applications for digital musicology will be given at IPEM. The lecture introduces audio fingerprinting, explains an audio fingerprinting technique and then goes on to explain how such algorithm offers opportunities for large scale digital musicological applications. Here you can download the slides about audio fingerprinting and its opportunities for digital musicology.
With the explained audio fingerprinting technique a specific form of very reliable musical structure analysis can be done. Below, in the figure section, an example of repetitive structure in the song Ribs Out is shown. Another example is comparing edits or versions of songs. Below, also in the figure section, the radio edit of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky is compared with the original version. Audio synchronization using fingerprinting is another application that is actively used in the field of digital musicology to align audio with extracted features.
Since acoustic fingerprinting makes structure analysis very efficiently it can be applied on a large scale (20k songs). The figure below shows that identical repetition is something that has been used more and more since the mid 1970’s. The trend probably aligns with the amount of technical knowledge needed to ‘copy and paste’ a snippet of music.
Fig: How much identical repetition is used in music, over the years.
At ISMIR 2014 i will present a paper on a fingerprinting system. ISMIR is the annual conference of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval is the world’s leading interdisciplinary forum on accessing, analyzing, and organizing digital music of all sorts. This years instalment takes place in Taipei, Taiwan. My contribution is a paper titled Panako – A Scalable Acoustic Fingerprinting System Handling Time-Scale and Pitch Modification, it will be presented during a poster session the 27th of October.
This paper presents a scalable granular acoustic fingerprinting system. An acoustic fingerprinting system uses condensed representation of audio signals, acoustic fingerprints, to identify short audio fragments in large audio databases. A robust fingerprinting system generates similar fingerprints for perceptually similar audio signals. The system presented here is designed to handle time-scale and pitch modifications. The open source implementation of the system is called Panako and is evaluated on commodity hardware using a freely available reference database with fingerprints of over 30,000 songs. The results show that the system responds quickly and reliably on queries, while handling time-scale and pitch modifications of up to ten percent.
The system is also shown to handle GSM-compression, several audio effects and band-pass filtering. After a query, the system returns the start time in the reference audio and how much the query has been pitch-shifted or time-stretched with respect to the reference audio. The design of the system that offers this combination of features is the main contribution of this paper.