I am working on synthesized patches using a combination of additive and subtractive methods to create a digital orchestra. The goal is not to recreate orchestral sounds, but rather to create an instrumentation for polyphonic works that builds on principles from orchestral instrumentation of a classical orchestra - roughly the size of what is required for Beethoven's work.

I am currently building a string-like section from a single patch with a long sustain. I would then like to process this patch into easy distinguishable variations that mimic the relationship between the string instruments: violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The overall waveform for these instruments is to my understanding similar. However, the individual characteristics seem to be heavily dependent on the resonating body of each instrument. A viola is basically a larger violin. For a cello, however, I think the bow is broader and the strings have a different characteristic.

I am familiar with Karplus-Strong synthesis, but my goal is not a realistic string instrument. Instead, I would like to apply the principles that differentiate a family of instruments to create individual patches that belong to the same "section". To achieve this for strings, I think manipulating the characteristics of the resonating body - size and shape in particular - could be useful.

I have tried to use short reverbs, long unmodulated chorus and other variations on copying and delaying a signal to simulate different resonance characteristics. I also was somewhat successful in simulating the bow using enveloped noise and very short granular delays. Ideally I am looking for a VST solution or using mix buses and filters.


Are there any common techniques for simulating resonating bodies?


I don't know if this is exactly what you need, but in my experience I've obtained interesting results using IRs of several bodies, e.g. Altiverb's IRs have a really awesome "Design" section with IRs from a djembe, a dustbin, a flower pot and more.. This worked very well when I wanted to simulate something like a resonating body.

Cheers, d

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    You could also check this link :) scitation.aip.org/content/asa/journal/jasa/77/S1/10.1121/… – fragmentsinabox Jul 6 '15 at 16:25
  • I also reached the conclusion that convolution would be a solution. By simply tapping the bridge (in an anechoic chamber) you could potentially record the IR of a Stradivarius (Sleator, 1985, Curtin, 2015). However, I have not been able to find any database for instrument spaces. Curtin, J. (2015) in Schulman, Finding the Elusive Digital Stradivarius transistor.prx.org/2015/05/digital-stradavarius – noumenal Jul 6 '15 at 17:41
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    iZotope Trash also contains a bunch of nice weird IRs, including ones that don't belong to acoustic objects at all. — @noumenal: tapping the bridge doesn't really create a very dirac-like transient though, you'll definitely need some correction. – leftaroundabout Jul 6 '15 at 20:51
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    Csound also has some interesting opcodes for physical modeling, you could try to manipulate those opcode's parameters to obtain what you need, more or less :) – fragmentsinabox Jul 7 '15 at 12:02
  • @leftaroundabout I am new to convolution and deconvolution, so I am not sure I understand. By Dirac-like function do you mean that the amplitude of the isolated source has to be proportional to the raw signal (source + IR)? What kind of correction would be needed? If the bridge can be isolated in an anechoic chamber, would it not be possible to acquire the IR of the violin-space by subtracting the bridge? – noumenal Jul 7 '15 at 18:44

Are there any common techniques for simulating resonating bodies?

Look up physical modelling. Be prepared - it's a hugely academic subject and involves more equations and physics than you can shake a wooden bow at. There are so many variations depending on an almost infinite amount of factors to the point you realise it's practically impossible to manage mathematically.

A starting point however would be:

  • 2D wave equation
  • 3D wave equation
  • The Physics of the Violin (Cremer) a thorougly comprehensive book

You'll need to sit down with Matlab or similar to really get your hands dirty!

  • I mentioned a physical modelling method in the OP (Karplus-Strong). I have access to Matlab, but to me this sounds more like a PhD project. I am looking for an oscillator-free transformation that could be applied to any waveform, so I am not entirely sure if physical modelling would help me. By "2D wave equation", do you mean 2 pi f? +1 for the book tip! – noumenal Jul 7 '15 at 18:50
  • Physical modelling does involve at-least degree level maths. If you're not prepared to go down that route, then physical modelling really won't be for you! If you are looking for a transformation that could be applied to any waveform create a filter that emulates the body resonances, though this will give nowhere near the same results. Be prepared to alter that filter by the frequency of the input. – user3791372 Jul 8 '15 at 17:43
  • I have sound design as a hobby only. I could potentially brush up on my mathematics, but it would still take me ages to implement. I have a decent understanding of wave mechanics, FFT, and wavelets, because I use signal processing in my daily work on 2D data, but alas, I have no background in acoustics or physics. – noumenal Jul 9 '15 at 8:23

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