Virtual Musical Instruments: Accessing the Sound Synthesis Universe as a Performer

Axel Mulder

School of kinesiology
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B. C., V5A 1S6 Canada


With current state-of-the-art human movement tracking technology it is possible to represent in real-time most of the degrees of freedom of a (part of the) human body. This allows for the design of a virtual musical instrument (VMI), analogous to a physical musical instrument, as a gestural interface, that will however provide for much greater freedom in the mapping of movement to sound. A musical perfomer may access therefore the currently unexplored real-time capabilities of sound synthesis systems. In order to decrease the learning and adaptation needed and avoid injuries, the design must address the musculo-skeletal, neuro-motor and symbolic levels that are involved in the programming and control of human movement. The use of virtual musical instruments will likely result in new ways of making music and new musical styles.