Motivation

Physical constraints

Why write a computer program that can simulate an inexperienced musician playing a low-quality instrument, when I have an excellent-quality cello and decent viola?

Well, in 70 years I’ll be over 100. Barring miraculous advances in medicine, I won’t be able to exert enough force with my right hand, my left hand won’t be able to move fast enough, my reactions won’t be fast enough to adjust my actions as necessary. In short, I won’t be able to play cello.

Musical creativity is hindered by physical constraints.

Who "deserves" to create music?

One response to ageing might be "so what"? I’ll have had at least 60 years to play music – surely that’s "enough"? Aren’t I being "greedy" by wanting to create music for as long as I’m alive? After all, you need to be in good physical condition to play a violin. That’s just how the world is; anybody who isn’t willing to train themselves to perform the demanding physical actions surely doesn’t "deserve" to create a violin sound!

I reject this argument; music is something that everybody should be able to create. I don’t think that 100 years is "enough" to stop making music – your tastes will probably change over that time, so you may drift from genre to genre. But as long as somebody wants to create music, it would be nice if they were able to do so.

Even if you believe that we only "deserve" to create music for 60 years, what about people who are medically unable to undergo the physical training? Stephen Hawkings is certainly one of the most brilliant people alive today – if he were interested in violin music, wouldn’t it be nice to let him create violin sounds himself?

Reducing physical constraints

I’m an engineer – or at least, an engineering student. Engineers create technology to reduce physical constraints. Bridges, cars, and planes reduce the physical constraint of travel. Telephones and video calls reduce the physical constraint of communication over long distances. Vivi will reduce the physical constraints for producing violin sound.

Who benefits?

  • Violinists can experiment with different bowings – they can see and hear the results without being distracted by the physical difficulty of playing unfamiliar bowings.
  • Composers can hear their string music much better, and can produce "example" audio files to demonstrate their works.
  • Hybrid composer-performers may arise – they can compose some new violin music and tweak it for Vivi, instead of trying to find live musicians to perform it. This is particularly useful for composers with limited financial resources and people living in remote areas.