3 Violin Technologies We’ll See in the Future
1) Smart instruments
First it was your phone. Then your car. Now your refrigerator. It shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine an instrument that’s connected to the internet. In the next 10 years, expect electric and acoustic violins to become ‘smart’—that is, every sound you make will be uploaded to the cloud and connected to all sorts of recording, collaboration, and education apps. Electric violins will have this technology built-in, and we’ll be able to make our acoustic violins smart with clip-on devices that attach to your bridge.
Skype lessons will have an additional component of the teacher being able to program lessons directly onto your instrument. You will be able to play a real-time duet with someone across the world. All your practice data will be uploaded so your violin will keep you motivated (and your teacher will know if you’ve been practicing!). And composing music will be as easy as playing your instrument—the notes will appear automatically on digital sheet music.
Some smart instruments already coming to market:
2) Augmented reality lessons
The physical aspect of playing the violin sets it apart from other instruments in terms of difficulty. Teachers are constantly making small adjustments to hand position, back posture, neck angle, wrist position, elbow height, and so on. If you don’t have a private teacher, you might never develop correct posture.
Augmented reality will revolutionize lessons. Imagine looking down at your bow hand and seeing a ‘ghost’ hand on top of yours that shows the correct position. Each finger glows when your finger slips out of the correct position. All you need to do is match your hand to the ghost hand. Now extend this to every physical aspect of playing. In the current state of augmented reality and virtual reality, this technology is completely possible—it just hasn’t been programmed yet!
3) Custom instruments made with Artificial Intelligence
In the future, you will have more control over how your instrument sounds and you’ll be able to create custom-tailored violins with ease.
Why does a violin look the way it does? How do you find the perfect violin? Today, the answers lie in tradition and trial-and-error. In order to choose a violin, we either take whatever the rental shop gives us or play a couple dozen (if that) violins before we find one that seems to suit us. But how do we know we’re making the right decision?
These antiquated decision-making methods are being replaced in industries everywhere.
High Performance Computing (HPC) is already being used to optimize designs for products as varied as Coke cans and SpaceX rocket engines. Supercomputers can take the variables you care about—say a dark sound with a less resonant E-string and exaggerated harmonics (oh, and a size to match your body type)—and use HPC to create a newly designed violin that exactly matches your acoustic tastes, your height, and preferred musical style. Then this will be 3D printed in carbon fiber or sent to a luthier.
Expect traditions of violin-making to be put to the test in the next 10 years.
I predict that by 2022, a prominent violinist will perform with an AI-augmented violin, to extraordinary press coverage and criticism.
If you care deeply about the traditions of instrument-making, this may be sad to see. But if you're a player or performer--more power to you!