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Title: Travelling wave control of stringed musical instruments
Author: Donovan, Liam
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 1073
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Despite the increasing sophistication of digital musical instruments, many performers, composer and listeners remain captivated by traditional acoustic instruments. Interest has grown in the past 2 decades in augmenting acoustic instruments with sensor and actuator technology and integrated digital signal processing, expanding the instrument's capabilities while retaining its essential acoustic character. In this thesis we present a technique, travelling wave control, which allows active control of the vibrations of musical strings and yet has been little explored in the musical instrument literature to date. The thesis seeks to demonstrate that travelling wave control is capable of active damping and of modifying the timbre of a musical string in ways that go beyond those available through the more conventional modal control paradigm. However, we show that travelling wave control is highly sensitive to nonlinearity, which in practical settings can lead to harmonic distortion and even instability in the string response. To avoid these problems, we design and build a highly linear optical string displacement sensor, and investigate the use of piezoelectric stacks to actuate the termination point of a string. With these components we design and build a functioning travelling wave control system which is capable of damping the vibrations of a plucked string without adversely affecting its timbre. We go on to show that by deliberately adding nonlinearity into the control system, we are able to modify the timbre of the string in a natural way by affecting the evolution of the modal amplitudes. The results demonstrate the feasibility of the concept and lay the groundwork for future integration of travelling wave control into future actuated musical instruments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: digital musical instruments ; digital signal processing ; travelling wave control