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Creating virtual instruments and sounds using physical descriptions

Modalys is an environment used to create virtual instruments using simple physical objects such as strings, plates, tubes, membranes, plectra, bows, and hammers.

It is also possible to create objects with more complex forms by creating a three-dimensional mesh, or using measurements and Modalys calculates how these will vibrate for you.

By combining these different physical objects, the user creates a virtual instrument and decides how it will be played. OpenMusic (Modalys Library) and Max/MSP (Mlys) offer a simpler mode of communication with Modalys, the synthesis engine, via an intuitive graphical interface.

Main Applications

  • Sound synthesis
  • Education: the modal theory with examples of modes
  • Composition: sounds that blend well with real instruments
  • Cinema & Video: virtual and hybrid sound design
  • Scientific Research & Development: comparison of theoretically determined and measured modes
  • Sound Design: Natural work on the quality of sound (metallic, wood, etc.)

Main Functions

Modalys is the engine used to create virtual instruments using simple physical objects, measurements, or even a three-dimensional mesh. The user can create an instrument and then decide how it will be played. To create a virtual instrument the user must define:

  • The objects that will be used to make the instrument (e.g. tube, string, membrane, plate, plectra, bow, hammer, etc.). These objects are recreated in the computer will standard settings that can be modified;
  • Access to the objects (the location where the objects will be put into interaction);
  • The connections that make it possible to define the playing styles to be used (e.g. strike, blow, rub, etc.);
  • The controllers that let the user change the settings of a playing style in time and to play the instrument.

Additional Information for Product

In Modalys, the textual language Lisp is used to pilot the physical models of the instruments. The user writes and executes the Lisp program in order to obtain a musical result. The OpenMusic program (IRCAM) makes it possible to control the models graphically (control via a score or curve editors).

Mlys is a library of objects derived from Modalys used to build simple instruments from strings, plates, membranes, and tubes with access to any kind of material (metal, wood, diamond, etc.), size, and interactions: striking, pinching, rubbing. This interface makes it possible to control Modalys directly in real-time. Mlys requires Max/MSP 4.5 or higher.