Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Future of Guitar and Digital Music

I found my article (The Perfect Connection Between Guitar and Computer) on ScienceDaily.com.

Article URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711081244.htm

Over the past few years, I have eagerly pursued a childhood dream of mine to write and record an entire music album by myself. The long college summers have given me ample time to finish writing and arranging plenty of material for an album, but I have recently discovered that using home recording equipment does not produce the quality and essence of sound that I strove to record in the first place.

Over the past decade, the process of recording and enjoying music has become extremely digitized. Though compact discs contain high quality WAV files, many music fans (myself included) have decided to sacrifice sound quality for convenience purposes by downloading lower quality music files from iTunes or Limewire—after all, it’s hard to hear all the subtleties of music through iPod ear buds, so it really doesn’t matter to most people. Musicians have also begun recording music digitally, using programs such as Pro Tools and Garage Band. Instead of placing a microphone near their amplifiers, guitarists such as myself have been able to purchase guitar cables that connect directly to the computer from the guitar.

Though these cables are extremely convenient, many musicians complain that their guitars do not sound nearly as good when digitized. They feel that the recording programs have failed to capture guitar tone and style as well as they would have liked. However, engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST have created a device that is extremely accurate at picking up the intricacies of how a guitar is played.

The device is called DiaForce, and it is a thin film coating that covers the tailpiece (also known as the bridge (see above)) of the guitar. Saskia Biehl, the head of the micro and sensor technology group at the Fraunhofer Institute explains that the DiaForce is so effective because it is able to accurately detect changes in string tension. He says, “When the guitarist changes string tension, the pressure on the film changes,” thus leading to a highly specific and accurate representation in the digital recording program. Biehl and his coworkers also seek to measure strength of string vibration as a way to record stroke strength and the fading of note amplitude over time.

Biehl and his coworkers believe it is possible that one day DiaForce will be found on all guitars and pickups will no longer be necessary. This is a shocking thought, considering pickups have been on guitars for many decades, but this film covering may in fact revolutionize the sound of guitars and how we record and enjoy music. Perhaps one day I will be able to achieve the tone I desire using digital recording software thanks to the DiaForce.

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