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Compose music with your voice, or any instrument, live. Works with all your favorite music software. Read more

Ames, IA Technology
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2,433
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$90,517
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on April 10, 2014.

Compose music with your voice, or any instrument, live. Works with all your favorite music software.

Ames, IA Technology
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About this project

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Miss your chance?  Pre-order at imitone.com !

Check out our updates for the latest information on the Kickstarter.

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Have you ever awoken from a dream with a melody in your head?

An idea might be vivid when it first comes to you, but if you can't express it, it fades away...

imitone is an app for PC and Mac which transforms your voice into musical notes, live.  As you sing -- or whistle, or hum -- imitone instantly converts the sound into "MIDI signals" which can control almost any music software or digital instrument.

Anyone can use it.  No set-up is needed: opening the program is just like plugging a musical keyboard into your computer.  To hear your voice transformed into a violin or flute, you need only start imitone, select that instrument in your music program, put on some headphones and start singing. It's that simple.

No ear for music?  Imitone has you covered.  It's designed to help you sing in tune, providing constant feedback on the pitch of your voice.  Additional tools like scale-snapping help it to correct your errors.

Works with everything.  Because it acts as a MIDI controller, thousands of music programs already work with imitone, including the popular (and free!) GarageBand for Mac.  You can control imitone with your voice or a musical instrument, and a regular laptop-quality microphone.

You can use imitone to compose music, perform it live, digitize recordings, dynamically control audio effects, train your singing, or tune your instrument. Other, still stranger uses exist, but those are for you to discover!

The best part: It's not just a promise. Imitone is fully-functional right now, and will be available to backers within a month after this Kickstarter concludes.

Think it's too good to be true?  Check out a review of the in-development version, or have a look at one of our demos:

To see imitone's special control modes in action, click here!

These demos are un-edited footage of imitone in development.  What you hear is the actual response speed of the program -- expect further improvements before release!

The main rewards for this campaign are digital copies of imitone itself.  Pre-ordering imitone or imitone prime gets you early access to imitone's beta, within a month after the conclusion of this campaign.

imitone is a "real-time, low-latency, monophonic audio-to-midi controller". It is designed to be simple enough for a child to use, elegant enough to do its job with no set-up whatsoever and powerful enough to compose a symphony.

imitone offers live pitch detection competitive with the best available, with superior latency and MIDI sequencing.  Its unique core technology, combined with a streamlined design, make it a tool with unprecedented potential for creatively empowering musicians of all experience levels.

Its features include:

  • Volume control (instant and continuous modes)
  • Scale selection
  • Vibrato detection
  • Pitch slide  (bend + glide)
  • Octave shift
  • Automatic scale/key detection (stretch goal hit!)
  • Percussion control mode (stretch goal hit!)
  • Hardware output
  • Audio / MIDI file support
  • VST Version (stretch goal hit!)

Want more details?  Feast your eyes on our interface breakdown, or your ears on our mode demonstrations.

imitone prime, an enhanced version of the program designed for professional use, will be a home for all the features I've developed that don't fit into imitone's tight package -- unnecessary for the vast majority of users, but capable of unlocking new worlds of possibility for the adventurous and technically adept.

Features:

  • All imitone features  (see above)
  • VST version
  • Voice timbre control  (brightness)
  • Multi-channel control  (map microphones to different instruments)
  • Polyphonic pitch detection  (experimental feature)
  • Adjustable tuning  (imitone uses A440 equal temperament)
  • Fully tweakable analysis
  • Advanced data visualization
  • More to come?
    I'm discovering new possibilities for imitone all the time; if I stumble upon anything special, chances are it will find its way into Prime.

Want to know more?  Check out our prime feature breakdown.

We have one very special physical reward available from this campaign:  3D-printed SoundSelf Charms.  These are your voice given physical form -- captured by imitone and rendered into a unique trinket using a harmonograph formula designed by Robin Arnott in SoundSelf's core technology.

imitone is powered by an unprecedented audio analysis technique: the self-attuning resonator cell, or "SAHIR", which allows it to detect tonal sounds with extreme precision and latencies on the order of 5 to 20 wavelengths.

By default, imitone detects a range of pitch corresponding roughly to the human vocal range: C2 to F7.  This will be configurable.

Platforms:

  • Windows XP or later (Vista, 7 or 8 recommended)
  • OS X 64-bit Intel 10.6 or later (10.7 or later recommended)
  • See FAQ for details on Linux

System Requirements:

  • Required:  Dual-core CPU, 1 GB RAM, OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU, laptop-quality microphone.
  • Recommended:  Intel i5 or higher, 2 GB RAM, OpenGL 3.0 compatible GPU, USB microphone, headphones, quiet room.

$20,000 (HIT!) -- Funding Goal Met!

This gives me the means to cover the costs of designing, marketing and developing this software.  I'm really excited to see what people make with it.

$30,000 (HIT!!) -- Automatic scale detection (all versions)

This feature will allow imitone to guess your melody's scale and key based on a few seconds of singing.  This should make scale-snapping much simpler for users untrained in music theory.

$40,000 (HIT!!!) -- Percussion mode (all versions)

I will research and implement an alternate mode which allows imitone to detect and identify percussive sounds in real-time.  In theory this will allow control over the program using drum-sets or beat-boxing.

$60,000 (GO!) -- VST plugin version!  (imitone and imitone prime)

An imitone VST plugin would operate inside rather than side-by-side with compatible music programs, allowing it to share low-latency inputs on Windows and more tightly integrate into advanced workflows.  The VST will be for Windows and Mac, including 64-bit flavors, and will be included with imitone and imitone prime for all backers.

$75,000  (BLAM!) -- iOS version

I will create a full-featured mobile version of imitone for iOS.   It will feature live feedback from a set of built-in instruments and a means of recording melodies for later use on a computer.  It will be able to control other iOS apps while backgrounded using Inter-Application Audio.

A new reward level will be added for pre-ordering the iOS version.

$90,000  (LAST HOURS!) -- Android version

An Android version of imitone, similar to the iOS one.  Due to the wide variety of hardware running Android, it can be a tricky platform to support.

An Android "add-on" will be available to backers after the campaign, via PayPal.

Counting PayPal pledges, all stretch goals have been hit!  We're done here.

Evan Balster is an independent game developer living in Ames, Iowa.  He is the inventor and developer of imitone, and the sole member (for now) of his company, Interactopia.

Evan's goal is to spend his life creating "software for a sense of wonder", stimulating the curiosity and creativity of its users and helping them to discover themselves.  His other projects include SoundSelf and Infinite Blank.

Richard Hogg is a magical Englishman with a touch for creating friendly and colorful artwork.  He is the visual designer of imitone.  His other projects include Hohokum and Frobisher Says.

Additional Thanks:

Robin Arnott, developer of SoundSelf -- This innovative meditation game, whose voice controls are powered by imitone, has been a way for me to keep afloat as my tone detection system evolved from a crude and deeply flawed system to the promising technology it is today.

Marlon Wiebe, videomancer -- Did an amazing job on the trailer above!

Robin Lomax Bjerke, video blogger -- A volunteer previewer who has put lots of time and effort into exploring imitone's possibilities.  Check out his YouTube channel!

Risks and challenges

My previous Kickstarter, years ago, was for a very ambitious project which shared much in spirit with imitone. Called "Infinite Blank", it was designed to help its users discover their creativity, through drawing.

However, Infinite Blank suffered from an over-sized scope, and was much more than I could tackle on my own -- particularly considering the game was designed with no way of making money. Eventually I just ran out of steam, and the project remains shelved to this day. I learned an important lesson about making promises I could keep.

For that reason I've waited until now, when imitone is nearly complete, to tell the world. At this point it just needs a lot of testing, tweaking and polish -- and I'll admit, that last 10% takes more than its fair share of time! But short of my sudden incapacitation or intervention by a patent troll, there's very little that could hamper that process.

imitone prime will take longer to complete as its interface will be much more complex, but the underlying logic is already functional. Several of its features, including polyphony and noise cancellation, are experimental at this time. For that reason I can't make guarantees about the quality of these features -- but I fully intend to keep working my magic!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • Yes. Imitone is designed to lower the "barrier to entry" for music making, enabling beginners to get ideas from their minds into the music software of their choice.

    imitone itself is very simple to use and requires no set-up, but it's essentially a "remote control" that takes the place of a piano keyboard controller. You will need a music program for it to "talk to" in order to start playing. Many free and user-friendly music programs exist... (See the next question)

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  • imitone pretends to be a keyboard plugged into your computer, and can control any music program that accepts "MIDI input" -- meaning, almost all of them! Thousands of applications, including all the major programs used in professional music-making, come with built-in support for MIDI.

    Compatible software includes: GarageBand, Fruity Loops, Ableton Live, Reason, Logic, Reaper, Digital Performer Sibelius, and thousands more that I can't begin to list.

    Some major apps, such as Reason, require some manual set-up for controllers they don't recognize. I plan on working with the vendors of these apps to make this smoother.

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  • MIDI is the "language" most music apps and hardware use to control one another. Some (like imitone) "talk" in MIDI, and others (like your music-making program) "listen" for MIDI and follow the instructions they hear.

    You don't need to know the specifics in order to use imitone effectively. If you're curious, you can learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI

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  • In addition to singing, imitone responds to humming, whistling and most types of musical instruments.

    imitone is also designed to give you constant feedback on your voice pitch, allowing you to train your singing and improve your level of control over time.

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  • A person, for starters! :)

    Imitone has also been tested with woodwinds, strings and free-reed instruments (accordion and melodica) with good results. We plan on testing many more -- and putting up demos! -- as the campaign continues.

    The only instrument type so far noted to work poorly is the Kalimba, owing to its "inharmonic" tone structure.

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  • I've researched about 25-30 programs, ranging from respected industry standards to obscure freeware, which might be said to perform the same function as imitone. Some of them date back to the early 1990s.

    First, imitone is a "real-time, low latency" controller. That means it responds instantly to you, while you sing. Most of the major pitch-detection systems are not realtime -- requiring you to record a clip of audio, transform it into notes afterward, and then use those.

    Real-time pitch detection systems are, for the most part, very inaccurate when used with voice. imitone's vocal note-detection is currently competitive with the best among these, while beating its response time by a wide margin. Another advantage of "low latency" is that imitone can capture shorter notes.

    The most important difference is that imitone is far more accessible than equivalent real-time voice-to-MIDI software. Its price will be far lower than competing software, and it will be available on both PC and Mac unlike many competitors. It is the *only* program which acts as a virtual MIDI controller -- the rest require manual setup -- and it offers features which help you to sing in tune and compensate for your errors, including scale-snapping and a unique feature called "tone stabilization".

    For these reasons, I believe imitone will be the first voice-to-MIDI software to offer true creative liberation to beginner musicians -- a new and powerful way to get musical ideas out of the mind and into the machine.

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  • In short: I think imitone is the right choice for the majority of people. It's designed to be everything you need and nothing you don't for intuitive realtime music-making. Compare the mechanic's toolbox and the swiss army knife: A tradeoff between rigorous completeness and minimal elegance.

    imitone prime is for the "adventurous and technically adept". It will be useful if you're interested in using imitone for live music performance, complex studio workflows, or non-conventional purposes outside of music-making (such as sound engineering, art installations or research). If you're the sort of person who loves to get into the technical details of things, its data visualizations, tweakable analysis and configurable MIDI sequencing will offer lots of fun and useful possibilities.

    If that's not you: Go with imitone. You won't be disappointed. If you're still genuinely torn, remember that backing at the prime level gets you a copy of imitone as well.

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  • If you pre-order imitone, you will get access to imitone's beta within a month of the campaign's completion, and a copy of imitone when it is released.

    If you pre-order imitone prime, you will get the above, access to prime's beta by July, and a copy of prime when it is released.

    Access to the beta means you will be able to download and use non-final copies of the program prior to release. These may have bugs or issues, and you'll be able to help me locate and fix them.

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  • imitone will be available on Linux for free, as an "unofficial" port.

    This version will not be fully supported -- it might not run on all distributions, and it may lack convenience features such as virtual device mode. I won't be able to provide full customer support for the Linux version.

    The reason I'm doing this is that I really want to support Linux, but it's a lot of work to do for a platform that offers so few options for music-making. The nature of Linux is that it's free and accessible, but options for software are more limited and often some manual set-up is required to get things working the way you want them. Think of imitone's Linux port as reflecting this.

    Backers who pre-order imitone will receive early access to the Linux beta as it becomes available. Backers who pre-order imitone prime will be entitled to its Linux beta and a Linux copy of the final program, but its availability is likely to take additional time.

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  • Currently we offer an alternative pledge through PayPal: http://imitone.com/paypal.html

    Unfortunately since this isn't integrated into Kickstarter you will not receive E-mails when an update is posted to the project. However, you will have equal access to all rewards including beta versions of the software.

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  • In short: I don't think there wouldn't be much of a point to it. You would be waiting a very long time before you could get the app, and you would receive access at the same time as normal iOS users.

    With all current pledge levels, you'll receive early access to the program for your PC or Mac, allowing you to play with it as soon as next month.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    443 backers All gone!

    Early pre-order: A copy of imitone and early access to the beta. (Available until the project hits its goal)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    1,050 backers

    Pre-order: A copy of imitone and early access to the beta.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    133 backers

    (NEW) Pre-Order + iOS Copy: A copy of imitone and early access to the beta. A copy of imitone for iOS when it is released.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    597 backers

    Prime pre-order: A copy of imitone prime, a copy of imitone and access to the imitone beta.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $70 or more

    149 backers

    (NEW) Prime pre-order + iOS Copy: A copy of imitone prime, a copy of imitone and access to the imitone beta. A copy of imitone for iOS when it is released. (iOS' prime version if there is one)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    8 backers

    SoundSelf Charm: We'll use imitone and SoundSelf to render the unique harmonic signature of your singing voice into a unique 3D-printed pendant, plated in bronze or gold. Includes imitone, imitone prime and beta access. Details below.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)