One-Handed Violin Concept 2018

A concept for a violin that can be used to perform classical violin repertoire with the use of only one hand.

The OHMI Trust (One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust) are a Birmingham based charity pioneering the development of accessible musical instruments. Through a yearly instrument design competition, OHMI Trust encourages the development of one-handed versions of traditional two-handed instruments with the goal that the one-handed version fully matches the performance of the traditional version. It is a complex engineering problem to convert an orchestral instrument into a one-handed version and the violin is yet to be adequately converted.

The concept relies on the performer bowing on the open strings of an electric violin, and using their voice as the controller to pitch-shift the audio of the bowed strings, essentially singing to control the note selection and string performance styles (eg vibrato, glissando etc).

How it works: The performer bows the open strings of a quadrophonic electric violin and uses their voice as a pitch selection controller. The audio created by bowing the string is captured on the string pickup, and is input to the BELA micro-computer. The audio is then pitch-shifted in real-time to the desired pitch as selected via the voice control and output to a speaker. To select the desired pitch, the performer wears a throat microphone and hums the note they wish to perform.

A series of experiments were run to reveal the efficacy of this concept. The biggest limitation on the design is the sound-bleed from bowing on the open strings. Further research is required in designing an augmented electric violin that can mask the sound bleed of bowing on an open string. Dr Laurel Pardue’s current research into augmented violin technology is aimed at such a design, and initial testing of these designs on the One-Handed Violin has delivered very promising results.