Investigations of Bowed String Performance Through Measurement of Violin Bowing Technique (20/09/07)
Virtuosic bowed string performance in many ways exemplifies the incredible potential of human physical performance and expression. A great deal is known about the physics of the violin family and those factors responsible for its sound capabilities. However, there remains much to be discovered about the intricacies of how players control these instruments in order to achieve their characteristic range and nuance of sound. Today, technology offers the ability to study this player control under realistic, unimpeded conditions to lead to greater understanding of these performance skills. Presented here is a method for investigation of bowed string performance that uses a playable hardware measurement system to capture the gestures of right hand violin bowing technique. This measurement system was optimized to be small, lightweight, and portable and was installed on a carbon fiber violin bow and an electric violin to enable study of realistic violin performances. Included in the system are inertial and force sensors, and an electric field position sensor. In order to maximize the applicability of the gesture data provided by this system to related fields of interest, all of the sensors were calibrated in SI units. The gesture data captured by these sensors are recorded together with the audio data from the violin as they are produced by violinists in typical playing scenarios. To explore the potential of the bowing measurement system created, a study of standard bowing techniques, such as detache, martele, and spiccato, was conducted with expert violinist participants. Gesture data from these trials were evaluated and input to a classifier to examine physical distinctions between bowing techniques, as well as between players. Results from this analysis, and their implications on this methodology will be presented. In addition to this examination of bowing techniques, applications of the measurement system for study of bowed string acoustics and digital music instrument performance, with focus on virtual instruments created from physical models, will be discussed.