June 4 - A contact microphone-based software could enable anybody to become a musician, using inanimate objects around them as instruments. Italian PhD student Bruno Zamborlin and his colleagues have devised what they call Mogees software which allows users to produce music through piezoelectricity, turning vibrations into electric sounds. Jim Drury reports.
Bruno Zamborlin demonstrates his Mogees contact microphone software - technology he says could turn the tone deaf into authentic musicians. Here the Goldsmiths College student transforms the iconic steel scribble sculpture on his campus roof into a whimsical musical instrument. The most unlikely of surfaces can become melodic. Simple contact mics can be linked via computer to pre-programmed software which produces music through piezolectricity, turning vibrations into electric sounds. SOUNDBITE (English) BRUNO ZAMBORLIN, MOGEES INVENTOR, SAYING: "The software is able to discriminate between different gestures, so you can tap with your fingers on a wooden board or you can scratch window glass, and the system is able to recognise all these gestures and to associate them with different musical instruments." Using a technique called mosaicing, the user loads a folder of pre-recorded musical sounds. Audio coming from the contact mic is then analysed by the software which produces the closest associated pre-recorded sound. SOUNDBITE (English) BRUNO ZAMBORLIN, MOGEES INVENTOR, SAYING: "It's completely tuneable, customisable by the user so the artist can actually record his own gestures and he can associate them with his own sounds. So in a way every Mogees is different from another one." All this can be done on the move. The music is piped through headphones, allowing the creator to hear their work without disturbing others. Zamborlin even uses it in his local pub, the New Cross House. Lunchtime drinkers who try out the software are always impressed. SOUNDBITE (English) MELODY RENOUF, PUB CUSTOMER, SAYING: "It was fun, yeah it was fun. It was kind of strange, obviously, because you're touching kind of everyday objects and you're not expecting them to sound like bells and clanging and you know, yeah, it's fun, it's cool, really good." SOUNDBITE (English) PETE AUSTIN, LOCAL MUSICIAN, SAYING: "How it would fit into a really traditional song would be quite interesting. I think the more experimental, the more simply orchestral side of things, I think it would fit into really well." Zamborlin developed Mogees with partners from the IRCAM European musical institute in Paris. In the autumn the collaborators will release an iPhone app allowing users to play music as they travel. They're confident that rock stars and non-performers alike will find the Mogees software music to their ears. Jim Drury, Reuters