What Sassoon heard was the preliminary results of an intriguing project at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where Dukechi was a researcher at the time. The Next generation word synthesis, Or NESS, the team brought together mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists to create the most vibrant digital music created by running hyper-realistic simulations of trumpets, guitars, violins, and more on a supercomputer.
Sassoon, who works with both orchestral and digital music, is “trying to break the two together.” He became a resident composer at NESS, touring between Milan and Edinburgh for the next few years.
It was a steep learning curve. “I would say the first year was spent just learning. They were very patient with me, ”says Sassoon. But it paid off. At the end of 2020, Sassoon was released Multiverse, An album was created using words that he gave during a very long night hacking into a university lab.
One downside is that fewer people will learn to play physical instruments. Computers, on the other hand, may start to sound like real musicians বা or something completely different.
As long as there are computers, computers are making songs. “It’s a precursor to graphics,” said Stefan Bilbao, lead researcher at the NESS project. “So it was really the first kind of artistic activity to happen with a computer.”
But near the well-tuned ear, like the Sassoon, there is always a gap between the sound produced by the computer and the sound produced by the acoustic instrument of the physical space. One way to fill this gap is to recreate physics, mimicking the vibrations produced by real materials.
The NESS team did not provide any actual device samples. Instead they have developed software that mimics the specific physical characteristics of a virtual instrument, tracking things like changes in air pressure on a trumpet during ventilation through tubes of different diameters and lengths, precise movement of guitar strings or a bow. On a violin. They even mimicked the air pressure inside the virtual room where the virtual instruments were played, up to square centimeters.