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imitone lets you play any instrument with your voice.
imitone lets you play any instrument with your voice.
2,433 backers pledged $90,517 to help bring this project to life.

imitone for live performance (+ April Fools'!)

Posted by Evan Balster (Creator)

April Fools!  The patent litigation threat mentioned in my last update was a joke.  The tipoff was the patent number I referenced -- an infamous attempt to lay claim on the concept of "toasted bread".  Fortunately, imitone hasn't fallen victim to patent trolling yet -- but it remains a worry I have.  As they say, there's a kernel of truth in every joke.

A video preview came out today in which YouTuber Robin Bjerke performs a cello jam using imitone's expression and vibrato modes together.  A more skilled singer than I, Robin combines these to impressive effect:

This is one of the best demonstrations so far of what I'm aiming to make possible with imitone.  Without a pre-existing idea or plan, the program allows you to experiment and hear your ideas take form instantly.  This means you can try a new melody every few seconds, approaching music-making as a purely explorative process.  As a game designer, I appreciate play.

Another implication of this instant, expressive control is that imitone has the potential to be used in live performance.  With its unique combination of expressive controls, imitone allows control over multiple instrument parameters in real-time.  The only thing keeping you from transforming yourself into a synthesizer and jamming out with a live band is, well, the band!  Recording in loud environments, especially musical ones, can confuse imitone.  But there's good news:

We have the technology.

What you see above is a $3 contact microphone, or "piezo".  It's designed to be stuck onto an acoustic guitar for low-quality recording.  If pressed gently against your throat, it's good enough to control imitone precisely -- even in an extremely loud environment.  Credit for this idea goes to Robin Arnott, who has been using it to demonstrate our project SoundSelf at conventions and parties.

Another advantage of a contact microphone is that you don't need to worry about feedback from your speakers, making headphones unnecessary.  Of course, holding something against your neck can be a little bothersome.  If you want to keep your hands free, you could pony up $15 for one of these:

Throat microphones, famously used by secret service agents and bodyguards, are a great pickup that can be hidden under the collar.  If you don't mind feeling like Agent Smith from The Matrix, these might just be the best option available for live music performance.  Just make sure you buy one for computers -- most of these are radio accessories.

To be clear: special microphones are not necessary to use imitone. They simply serve to "soundproof" it in loud environments.

However, if you've pre-ordered imitone prime, they let you do something remarkable:  If you have multiple singers, all using contact or throat microphones, each singer can control a different instrument.  This means a group of friends could become a string quartet, or a ska band, or a synthetic soundscape, jamming out in real-time.  I don't know about you, but I can't wait to try that!

And very soon, I will --
-- Evan

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Brandon Zylstra, Porcupine, and 15 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Kebel Arias on

      Whats the name of the microphone you use?

    2. Missing avatar

      Goh Aik Few on

      Thank you!! I will wait for your testing first then =)

    3. Evan Balster 2-time creator on

      Goh: I'm still testing the microphones and I'm wary of endorsing any one of them until I know which ones are good! For now, search for "contact mic" or "throat mic" and use your own judgment!

    4. Missing avatar

      Goh Aik Few on

      Any links for the special microphones that can be purchased online? I probably need to purchase now so that when the beta is launch, I don't have to wait any longer =)

    5. Marsha Tyszler

      At the very least, you owe "cello guy" a beer for that amazing demo!! Why?! Because I upped my pledge to pro after seeing it!! Blew my mind!!

      Ever backer here NEEDS to share this cello demo in social media and point people in the direction of the KS page. 6 days remain, and I want that iOS app SOOOOO badly!! Having a mobile app would open a world of possibilities -- such as not lugging a laptop to performances, having fun with friends on the fly, etc. If everyone here goes pro and/or gets a friend to back, we'll be golden!!

      And yes, I agree with the guy below. Anyone that backed The Dash will be able to use its ear bone mic via BTLE. I've been thinking of other KS campaign inventions that would complement this program ... so many gadgets would be great with this!

    6. Missing avatar

      Frederik Sjölund on

      I seriously can't wait for the beta-testing to begin!
      I'm going to try it on all kinds of stuff. My extensive orchestra library, hardware-synths, software-synths... EVERYTHING!
      Oh and thanks for the April Fools joke. You sure fooled me

    7. Porcupine on

      Yup, it's official. Now we're clearly living in the future...oh, and glad to hear there's no actual patent issue - you had me there...

    8. FifthDream on

      I am continually blown away by how amazing this program is. I can't wait until i can start it up, hum a few bits, and have a song completed in minutes. Because i know i can with this. So excited.

      I'm totally crediting you and Imitone in the liner notes of my first album. XD

    9. Lilia Tamm on

      GOD how totally amazing is that cello rockout? I was interested enough in this product to buy a copy of the software, but that video just opened my mind to the unbelievable possibilities you've created with that software. I'm a singer - have been since practically birth. I've always been so disappointed in myself that I never learned to play an instrument - it really is a hindrance in composition. This gives me super-powers I never thought I'd be able to have. And imagine the other possibilities - a whole choir of people singing a symphony! Or combining it with a vocalist harmony processor to produce the ability to "sing" guitar chords... So, so awesome.

    10. Missing avatar

      John Good

      Or use The Dash in ear bt headphones which habe been on Kickstarter recently. They feature a bone microphone too.