Esteso Voce Concept #1

Esteso Voce Interface #1

(Update: Next post is here, previous is here)

I am in the process of inventing a new musical instrument, called the Esteso Voce.

In my previous post I talked about the conceptual path leading to the Esteso Voce. In this post, I detail my first concrete concept for the instrument. To the left is the first shot at the interface (think touchscreen), which I will explain below.

What I didn’t make clear in my previous post was the original inspiration for this instrument. My idea was to be able to extend the voice, using external equipment, such that a single singer could sing a motet or madrigal by themselves.

Now obviously this is not easily possible, in that the different lines generally have different rhythm and words. What I think is achievable via the Esteso Voce is singing homophonic pieces (eg: Taverner’s The Lamb) and pieces in strict canon, also allowing harmonic variation (eg: Byrd’s Non Nobis Domine, which includes canon-style repetition, with some lines in parallel organum fifth). Also a combination of canon and intricate harmonic transposition in realtime is achievable, but I don’t know of any existing music that does this.

(Incidentally, I just listened for the first time to that recording of The Lamb linked above, it’s the best choral singing I’ve ever heard.)

Esteso Voce Flow Diagram

Architectural Overview

The Esteso Voce is in essence a vocal harmoniser combined with delay functionality appropriate for singing in canon. It takes a single vocal input, copies it up to 3 times, delays those copies as desired by the player, and then transposes the copied voices up or down in pitch, as controlled in real-time by the player. The original voice signal and the copies are then recombined and output.

(I intend the singer and the player to be the same person, but they could of course be two different people.)

In the interface, sets of four vertical lines represent these voices. The bolded, or red line, indicates the source vocal (which is being sung by the singer directly).

Wherever there are three sets of controls in a row, these refer to the three copied vocal lines, not to the source vocal. Wherever the source vocal is, the control from such a set of three is affecting the voice on the opposite side of it from the source vocal. Where this effect is relative (eg: in the main harmoniser controls) the effect affects the voice on the opposite side from the source vocal, creating an effect relative the the voice on the same side as the source vocal (which may be the source vocal itself).

Primary Harmonizer Controls
Primary Harmonizer Controls

Primary Harmonizer Controls

The Primary Harmonizer Controls are the main controls for the player to control the transposition of the other vocal lines.

In the diagram, the source voice is the voice 2, the second vertical line (the red one). The line to its left is voice 1 and represents a vocal line which will sit below it in pitch. The two lines to its right (voices 3 and 4) represent two vocal lines; the leftmost of these sits above the source line in pitch, and the rightmost sits above that.

How far the lines are transposed is determined in real time by the circle touched by the player in the appropriate column. Voice 1 is controlled by the column of circles between it and the source voice (each represents a number of semitones to transpose the source down by). Voice 3 is controlled by the column of circles between it and the source voice (each represents a number of semitones to transpose the source up by).

Voice 4 is controlled by the column of circles between it and Voice 3, and the circles represent the amount to transpose Voice 3 by, in order to create Voice 4. This is the same as adding together the transposition amounts for the middle and right hand columns (for Voice 3 and Voice 4), and transposing the source voice by that many semitones.

These controls are intended to be realtime. So, the circle touched in any column has effect while it is touched, and ceases that effect as soon as it is no longer touched. If multiple circles in any column are touched simultaneously, only one is used (the most recently touched? the least recently touched? something else?). If no circle is touched in the column, then the assumed value to transpose by is zero semitones (as if there was a top most row of circles for zero, one of which was being touched).

Next blog, I’ll talk about the rest of the interface, including the Secondary Harmonizer Controls, the Auxilary Controls, and the Delay Controls.


Esteso Voce Concept #1

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