The Virtual/Augmented
Chorale (VAChorale)

Perry R. Cook, Professor
Princeton Computer Science (also Music)
SoundLab Director
Co-Founder/Director, PLOrk

R. Benjamin Knapp
Senior Lecturer
Director, MUsic Sensors and Emotions (MUSE) Group
Sonic Arts Research Center, Belfast

The Princeton Laptop Orchestra
The Gardner '69 Magic Project
The Moss Innovation Fund

Equipment has been provided by BioControl Inc. (biological signal acquisition and processing),
and the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (laptops, sound interfaces, and speakers).
Generous grants have also been received from the Kimberly and Frank H. Moss '71
Research Innovation Fund (Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Sciences),
and the David A. Gardner '69 Magic Project (Princeton Council of the Humanities).

Brief project description

The Virtual/Augmented Chorale (VAChorale) project investigates the compositional and performance opportunities of a "cyber extended vocal ensemble."

The project outfits a small choir of singers with microphones, physical sensors (tilt, position), biological sensors, and cameras (for face tracking), coupling each human singer to a laptop, multi-channel sound interface, and multi-channel hemispherical speaker. Of course, the system uses digital signal processing to modify and augment the acoustical sound of the singers. Further, we use the biological sensor signals to control various algorithms for modifying and extending the choral sound. The most revolutionary component is using the biological sensor signals to control various sound (primarily voice/singing) synthesis algorithms, in order to extend, and even replace the acoustic components of the choir. The singers will thus be able to "sing" without phonating, controlling the virtual choir with facial gestures, head position, breathing, heart rate, and other non-acoustic signals.

The continuum from the "dry" choral sound, through the digitally augmented acoustic sounds of the singers, to the completely virtual sound of the biological sensor-controlled synthesized singing, provides a rich compositional space in which to create new music. The VAChorale design, engineering, and composition team includes experts in digital signal processing, biological signal acquisition and processing, computer music, vocal acoustics and synthesis, and human-computer interfaces.

There are two primary final goals for the VAChorale project:
1)To compose, rehearse, and perform concerts of old and
new vocal music with multiple Augmented Chorale ensembles.
2)To capture the singer sensor signals for further study.

Supporting Materials

Movie File of live performance of "7 Minutes from Tibet" for SqueezeVox (sensor/computer) Concertina. Perry Cook, composer, programmer, and performer. JBL Theater, Experience Music Project, Seattle, New Interfaces for Musical Expression, 2001.
MP3 File of live
performance of "Nonspecific Gamelon Taiko Fusion" for 15 PLOrkists (the Princeton Laptop Orchestra), using synchronized ChucK, by Perry Cook and Ge Wang, Conducted by Perry Cook, PLOrk concert, Princeton, January, 2006.
Movie File of live performance of "Tibet," for BioMuse and Prayer Bowls, by Atau Tanaka and Ben Knapp, NIME 2002 Dublin, Ireland