PHYSICAL MODELS OF VINTAGE ELECTRIC PIANOS
April 12, 2025
I have conducted my first research activities on virtual acoustic models at Aalto University in Finland. I have worked on the Clavinet, the Rhodes piano and the Wurlitzer for years now, to learn all about their subtleties to produce realistic and computational efficient models.
From Theory to Practice
VISCOUNT LEGEND 70S
Included by some music magazines in the top 10 innovative products of Los Angeles NAMM 2020, this is the first modular keyboard instrument to be ever produced. Its digital engine features sampling technology and physical modelling. I have developed the Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Clavinet physical models from ground up and conducted the sound design process. During this long R&D effort I have analyzed more than 10 keyboard instruments, their mechanics and electronics, I have conducted acoustic studies, including laser scanner vibrometry, and I have implemented tens of thousands of lines of code in Matlab, Python, C++ for Windows and C++ for the embedded DSP. Part of this research will also be published in scientific papers. The work is a collaborative between Viscount and my university, involving engineers, researchers and musicians to push the boundaries in sound synthesis.
This was one of my first big projects in the music industry. I had the role of conducting sound design for the Rhodes piano and Clavinet (already implemented) physical models based on my (then) recent MSc studies. This implied studying the instruments, and their dynamical behavior to set thousands of parameters and laws to control these parameters. The results were good for the short time-to-market (and my little experience back then) and this instrument was one-of-a-kind, beautiful and innovative.
A DIGITAL WAVEGUIDE-BASED APPROACH FOR CLAVINET MODELING AND SYNTHESIS
This is the last and biggest work on the Clavinet, with all our findings. The paper is open-access:
EXPRESSIVE PHYSICAL MODELING OF KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS: FROM THEORY TO IMPLEMENTATION
This work reports details about the physical models employed in the Physis Piano.
Further technical details, analysis on computational cost and a benchmark of different computing platforms is provided in this paper:
A FINITE DIFFERENCE METHOD FOR THE EXCITATION OF A DIGITAL WAVEGUIDE STRING MODEL
This work proposes merging two well-known physical modeling approaches for string modeling, the digital waveguide and the 1D finite differences (FDTD) and provides a stable and lossless numerical method to connect them.