Computational Design of Metallophone Contact Sounds

Computational Design of Metallophone Contact Sounds

Gaurav Bharaj, David I.W. Levin, James Tompkin, Yun Fei, Hanspeter Pfister, Wojciech Matusik, and Changxi Zheng.

(ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH Asia), 2015.)

Metallophones such as glockenspiels produce sounds in response to contact. Building these instruments is a complicated process, limiting their shapes to well-understood designs such as bars. We automatically optimize the shape of arbitrary 2D and 3D objects through deformation and perforation to produce sounds when struck which match user-supplied frequency and amplitude spectra. This optimization requires navigating a complex energy landscape, for which we develop Latin Complement Sampling to both speed up finding minima and provide probabilistic bounds on landscape exploration. Our method produces instruments which perform similarly to those that have been professionally-manufactured, while also expanding the scope of shape and sound that can be realized, e.g., single object chords. Furthermore, we can optimize sound spectra to create overtones and to dampen specific frequencies. Thus our technique allows even novices to design metallophones with unique sound and appearance.