Thursday, July 22, 2010

Holy Grail Numero 2 is in the making...

One of my main collaborators at IRCAM for the past few years, Frédéric Bevilacqua has been tackling the most difficult tasks of all delivered to him by this crazy visitor from the Upper Westside of NYC. He asked for it, so he got it :) Seriously, I constantly worry and ask him if what I'm aiming at is in line with his research and every time he is assuring me that it perfectly is. Since yesterday, Fred has been coming through with this extremely difficult task. I'm marking July 21st as the "Holy Grail No.2 Day" :) He is delivering, together with Bruno Zamborlin who wrote the program. This is possibly one of the largest prize yet.

This humongous Holy Grail No.2 is a 'phrase recognition' which may seem like an easy thing to do, almost like an old-fashioned "score following", but not the same at all. It can track 'similar' phrases played by the violin with the same bowing, and even double stops (= chords, without pitch detection which has been so far, impossible). The funny thing is, I made a few examples including 'simple' and 'complex' for him to try his system. It turned out, what I thought 'simple' was harder to track, and 'complex' ones were easier! How do I know!? :) We are sitting side by side working in a cool air-conditioned studio at IRCAM's basement, helped by the SECOND can of Maxim de Paris' Oranges Confites Enrobées de Chocolat Noir (orange peels covered in dark chocolate), here it is sitting right next to my motion sensor glove.

We are really testing the system's robustness by improvising etc, trying to 'fool' it. Fred is leaving for vacation at the end of the month, so we are trying to make it work as well as we possibly can. It is crunch time. CRUNCH! I'm still here at 9PM since this morning and planning to do more recording test. How can I waste such an environment. But don't worry, this week I had a wonderful visit with a long lost classmate from Juilliard, composer Chris Culpo who invited me to his home. It was wonderful to catch up with him. Then yesterday I had a dinner with husband's family friend, a Japanese artist living in France. She took me to a Korean barbecue (saying I must not have eaten Asian food for a long time, which was true) near Eiffel Tower, and I had a lovely walk with her in misty evening looking up at the Tower lit with yellow light and shadows of beautiful architecture which was magical. I got home last night after midnight. So yes I am also paying my homage to the City of Light.

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