In music, we often hear a singer — or certain musical instruments — gliding seamlessly from one pitch or tone to another, with a smooth progression. Nearly all musicians know this as “portamento”, a term that has been used for hundreds of years.
Not everyone or everything can achieve it, however; this continuous varying of pitch is possible only for the trained human voice, besides string and some other instruments.
Now an MIT student has invented an algorithm that produces a portamento effect between any two audio signals in real-time.
Trevor Henderson is now a graduate student in computer science, MIT said in a statement. In experiments, the algorithm seamlessly merged various audio clips, such as a piano note gliding into a human voice. His paper describing the algorithm won the “best student paper” award at the recent International Conference on Digital Audio Effects, MIT said.
The algorithm relies on “optimal transport”, which is a centuries-old geometry-based framework that determines the most efficient ways to move objects — or data points — between various configurations. It has been applied to fluid dynamics, 3-D modelling, computer graphics, and more.
Now, Henderson has applied optimal transport to interpolating audio signals, or blending one signal into another, MIT said.
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