Improving the Realism of a Physically Simulated Musical Instrument

David J Humphreys


Supervised by Kirill Sidorov; Moderated by Ralph Martin

One approach to the synthesis of highly realistic musical sounds in virtual instruments is to, essentially, mathematically describe the physical properties of a real musical instrument and run the simulation of the relevant physical laws on a computer.

This approach appears to be far more promising than using sample libraries (as sample-based synthesis is always limited to what samples have been pre-recorded), but is also far more computationally expensive and, implemented naively, does not capture the subtle nuances of sound that are essential for realism.

One problem with physical simulation is tuning of (possibly very many) model parameters, so as to achieve realistic results. This project will involve implementing a (simple) physical model of a bowed string + instrument body. The parameters of this model will then be tuned by black-box optimisation so as to match the ground truth sounds of real sampled instruments.

The secondary aim of this project is to leverage the power of graphics processing units (GPUs) for physical modeling of musical instruments.

Prerequisites: excellent programming skills, ability for independent thinking, and a degree of ingenuity.

Initial Plan (31/01/2016) [Zip Archive]

Final Report (06/05/2016) [Zip Archive]

Publication Form