Artifastring  2.4

Artifastring ("artificial fast string") is a highly optimized physical simulation of a violin for sound synthesis.

1. Quick start

1.1 Download

The latest tarball release can be downloaded from:

Development takes place at:

1.2 Compile

Requires a typical development environment including g++, with the additional libfftwf library.

mkdir build/
cd build/

If you do not want to use the autotools build system, you can still compile with the .c and .h files directly. This is demonstrated in use in code.

1.5 Benchmarks

./actions2wav twinkle.actions

The format of the ".actions" file is described in file format.

You may also use it in C++ code directly; this is described in use in code. Python bindings are available; see swig.

1.4 Generate video

Video can be produced with blender. Use –enable-blender during the ../configure stage. Individual pictures are produced with; these pictures can be combined with audio with

There are 3 preset levels of image quality. Most machines can process multiple threads at once; the speed of rendering images can be increased by manually splitting the range of frames and calling multiple times (i.e. -q 1 -s 1 -e 100 and -q 1 -s 101 -e 200). For more information, check the –help of both scripts.

1.5 Benchmarks

I recommend generating a 30-second test file:

cd build/
./actions2wav benchmark.actions

This tests many aspects of the physical modelling. Be aware that the bowing parameters (notably bow velocity and bow force) are not tweaked, so the violin control will be fairly poor.

2. Background

2.1 References

Artifastring is discussed extensively in my PhD dissertation:

The fundamental model was described by Demoucron, subjected to a few changes to avoid undesirable behaviour (described in my PhD).

2.2 Known limitations

Despite the recent dates, this model is relatively old (early 1990s?) and does not represent the most accurate simulation known to researchers. In particular, the friction of bowing is estimated with a hyperbolic curve, rather than a more accurate double-exponential curve, or hysteresis behaviour due to the rosin melting and cooling during bowing.

This model was not chosen for accuracy; rather for being simple yet still "good enough" for our desires. Don't criticize it for being "not sufficiently accurate" for whatever you want to do.

2.3 Acknowledgements

This project would not have been possible without initial work by my supervisor, Dr. Nick Bailey, in understanding and explaining the model (in language, diagrams, and code). Many thanks also to Dr. John Williamson and Dr. Martin Macauley for clarifying some more abstract parts of the model.

Many thanks also to Matthias Demoucron for clarifying some physical constants (especially the slope of friction charactistics v0) in personal email.

3. File format

The general syntax of each line is:

action_type seconds parameters...

Lines must be divided with tabs, with one command per line. A line beginning with a # hash is a comment.

There are four types of commands. All commands begin with the action_type and seconds. seconds is the absolute time since the beginning of the audio, not the relative time since the last command.

See files in the actions/ directory for examples.

4. Use in code

Input code:

// simple.cpp
#include "artifastring/artifastring_instrument.h"
#include "artifastring/monowav.h"
int main () {
// make objects
MonoWav *wavfile = new MonoWav("output.wav");
// get output buffer
short *output = wavfile->request_fill(44100);
// pluck the A string, near the middle of the string,
// with moderately strong force
violin->pluck(2, 0.45, 0.8);
// wait 1 second
violin->wait_samples(output, 44100);
// automatically writes output file
delete wavfile;
delete violin;

To compile (after installing):

g++ simple.cpp -lartifastring -lmonowav -lfftwf

5. Swig python bindings

SWIG bindings are built automatically if possible.

./ twinkle.actions

6. Copyright

Short answer: GNU GPL 3.0+

Long answer:

Copyright 2010--2013 Graham Percival

Artifastring is free software: you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of
the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Artifastring is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public
License along with Artifastring.  If not, see

7. Future work

It would be nice to extend the physical modelling algorithm to use (at least) two bow positions (to accommodate bow width), and two finger forces during bowing. I hope to have the latter working in the next few weeks.

More instruments would be fantastic, especially double bass. If I feel inspired then I might try renting a double bass for a week so I can take the required measurements.

In general, though, my attention is on virtual musicians to control the physical model. This takes place in a separate software project: