CYMATIC: A tactile controlled physical modelling instrument

David M Howard; Stuart M Rimell
DAFx-2003 - London
The recent trend towards the virtual in music synthesis has lead to the inevitable decline of the physical, inserting what might be described as a ‘veil of tactile paralysis’ between the musician and the sound source. The addition of tactile and gestural interfaces to electronic musical instruments offers the possibility of moving some way towards reversing this trend. This paper describes a new computer based musical instrument, known as Cymatic, which offers gestural control as well as tactile and proprioceptive feedback via a force feedback joystick and a tactile feedback mouse. Cymatic makes use of a mass/spring physical modelling paradigm to model multi-dimensional, interconnectable resonating structures that can be played in real-time with various excitation methods. It therefore restores to a degree the musician’s sense of working with a true physical instrument in the natural world. Cymatic has been used in a public performance of a specially composed work, which is described.