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Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the vinz-clortho-the-choirmaster dept.

Input Devices 189

New submitter krid4 writes "Question from a blind friend: 'My ears replace my eyes. However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late. Neither tuning in with the voices around me, nor listening to the moment of their breathing-in helps to solve this problem. Fancy that it might be possible to produce tactile pressure or even lines at the top of my right hand, head or body. Even pulses would do, because what finally counts is the moment of the 'beat' produced by the choirmasters baton.' What simple, possibly DIY solutions are possible? It would help many blind chorus singers."

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No way to see! (-1)

aglider (2435074) | about a year ago | (#43386411)

Maybe she can hear or feel. But no sight, no see.

Re:No way to see! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386433)

Thanks for te help, captain obvious.

Re:No way to see! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386449)

Is it too hard to just LOOK at the conductor's baton? Sheesh, you blonds really are so dumb!

Re:No way to see! (3, Insightful)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year ago | (#43386551)

In Marvel Comics, lawyer Matt Murdock found a way... ... and became Daredevil!

Re:No way to see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386477)

But there just might be a way to make them 'See' the baton. It wouldn't be true sight, but through some technology, they might be able to respond as if they could 'see' it.

Re:No way to see! (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43387001)

Yes. Instead of a baton, use a cattle prod.

Re:No way to see! (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43386483)

Not necessary. There have been some interesting experiments in retaking human senses. There have been tests retask the tongues’ nerve cell to receive sonar.

Or this - http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f358/?srp=2 [thinkgeek.com]

To throw something wild out with about 60 seconds of thought – could one use a Kinect to track and translate the baton motion? I would assume it would mean putting some obvious at the end of the baton – red foam ball? And then you would need to translate that into something – more specialized hardware.

Re:No way to see! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#43386599)

Some folks have hacked the Kinect stuff before. You're right that the device might not track the slender baton, but a conductor doesn't have to use one. He/she can use their own hands. That should be big enough to catch the down beat or whatever he/she uses to indicate the start of the song and whatever they use to indicate the end.

Re:No way to see! (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387093)

It's still over complicating the issue (my response below [slashdot.org] ), but it would be interesting to note that the baton's position is defined precisely by the position of the conductor's hand. If Kinect could be convinced to totally ignore the baton, and if hand angle and roll can be calculated, then it's point could be easily extrapolated based upon hand position.

Re:No way to see! (1)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#43386755)

Give the choirmaster a theremin stick and headphones to the singers.

Stand next to a sighted helper. (4, Insightful)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387021)

Gah. No. That'd throw your pitch off terribly.

There's only one answer I can come up with. Have someone stand next to the blind friend and give him/her tactile cues. Hand squeezes would work, but be very basic. If the sighted friend has any skill, holding hands (down by their side) and making a very small pattern would be even better.

Either way, the sighted person would need to pay extraordinarily close attention to tempo changes and cuing. I'd be a hard job, but it would be doable.

As for the aesthetics of the performance? Nobody cares when you're helping a friend like this. If you're really concerned about how it looks, then make it obvious somehow that they're blind. (have them wear the great big stereotypical black glasses, etc)

motion tracking video (5, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386419)

Motion tracking video of the baton (cheap webcam view from the side, colored foam ball on the baton end, track up/down motion with some very simple image processing); convert to a usable signal (e.g. audible clicks through an earpiece when the baton reaches maximum/minimum positions and turns around).

Re:motion tracking video (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386473)

alternate "visualization" method: have a constant stream of clicks through headphones (open-sided so as not to impede following the singing), varying the audio phase to move the stereo "image" side to side as the baton goes up and down; this should make it easy to follow the whole motion of the baton, not just the extrema, using the most cheap and available off-the-shelf hardware.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year ago | (#43386583)

The most 1:1 mapping I can think of to use for this would be to assign baton movements to gestures and define some output value to it. For example, you could play specific pitch tones in a pair of headphones for the blind singer whenever the baton moves, and each tone would indicate the beat and tempo to use.

Re:motion tracking video (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386627)

The downside of using "specific pitch tones" is confusing the heck out of the subconscious of someone trying to sing at some other particular pitch (to match the voices around them). Something broad-spectrum and atonal (a click, hiss, tick, or thump) can relay timing and position information, without interfering with (competing for attention in the brain) tonal perception.

Re:motion tracking video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386487)

Isn't that a bit like answering "flying car" to a transportation question? How? Is there anything like this available?

Re:motion tracking video (3, Interesting)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386571)

What part of this is hard? Cheap webcam? Bright-colored foam ball? Earpiece? Software to coordinate these?
Though image recognition in general, uncontrolled conditions is extremely hard ("here are snapshots of random traffic; identify the location of all signs, pedestrians, vehicles, and obstacles"), specialized tasks under controlled conditions ("there is one saturated red dot in the picture, between 30 and 50 pixels wide; find it.") are trivial to implement. If I was asking for software that could take any random photo of a choir and figure out where the conductor and baton were, that would be "flying car" hard; but, by reducing to a much simpler and well-controlled problem ("find the known-color, known-size spot"), the task is trivial (select all pixels within appropriate color range; apply dilation and expansion morphological operators to select the right size range; return the centroid of remaining pixels --- easy-peasy).

Re:motion tracking video (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387111)

Most conductors don't want to perform with bright foam balls. Besides, batons must be light weight and well balanced. Anything bigger than a pea could cause problems.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43387209)

The foam ball is still a less intrusive baton modification than other suggestions proposed here, such as using a game controller accelerometer. Something the size of a pea would probably be about enough, anyway. Some conductors already use batons with higher-visibility markers on the end; you'd certainly have to find a choirmaster willing to adapt to this change. A choirmaster who already accepts a blind singer who sometimes has trouble keeping up is quite likely to be reasonably accommodating --- outside of a few particularly pretentious world-class performing ensembles, I doubt many choirmasters would be such egotistical pricks that they'd refuse half a gram of extra baton weight to help a disabled singer.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387319)

The foam ball is still a less intrusive baton modification than other suggestions proposed here, such as using a game controller accelerometer.

Yeah, I pointed that out, but there are just too many posts to get them all. I'd probably get modded to oblivion if I tried.

Something the size of a pea would probably be about enough, anyway.

Depends on the camera quality and where it's put. A poor/old webcam behind and above the singers probably won't cut it. (in front and below might work)

outside of a few particularly pretentious world-class performing ensembles, I doubt many choirmasters would be such egotistical pricks that they'd refuse half a gram of extra baton weight to help a disabled singer.

While I think most conductors would probably consider half a gram, you'd be surprised at just how much of a difference that makes.

Re:motion tracking video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387301)

Isn't that a bit like answering "flying car" to a transportation question? How? Is there anything like this available?

No, but now I'm gonna go run out and patent a means to convert baton movements into clicks using a computer and a camera. Not that I have a fucking clue how to do it either, but when has that stopped the USPTO?

Re:motion tracking video (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43386593)

Motion tracking seems excessive when the poster would be satisfied with a simple pulse. I would suggest an accelerometer mounted to baton/conductor and a rumble motor ripped from an old gamepad for the singer (or an earpiece).

For a no-tech alternative try having the singer sit/stand near the conductor and have the latter tap their feet (hard) along with the baton.

Re:motion tracking video (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386669)

Even if motion tracking is "excessive," it's probably easier to implement in readily-available hardware: use a camera already on a laptop/phone, rather than needing to wire up the conductor with a custom accelerometer mount. And ripping a rumble motor from a gamepad (and creating the software/hardware interface to control it) is a heck of a lot more work than just piping sound out to headphones. As I describe in another post above, the motion tracking (in a simple and controlled environment) is pretty trivial to implement; I'm not asking for full 3-D capture of the whole conductor's body, just a colored spot (selected to be different from any wallpaper behind) moving up and down.

Re:motion tracking video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386873)

Setting things up so that motion tracking is trivial is going to take at least 2.5 minutes, and may require frequent recalibration throughout the performance. Configuring an accellerometer on the baton (and yes it might be as much as $100) will be extremely reliable and ought to work fine with barely any calibration when setting up for a performance.

Re:motion tracking video (5, Informative)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about a year ago | (#43386861)

I would suggest an accelerometer mounted to baton/conductor and a rumble motor

I'm a robotics researcher - some of my work includes developing aids for the blind. Of all the comments here, this is the sanest one and the one that would actually work for people with vision impairment. It's simple, it's cheap and it will WORK. We've had good success with similar systems for other tasks like navigation and playing soccer.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43387085)

Thanks. Re your sig, guess which one I am.

Re:motion tracking video (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386663)

They already have motion sensitive batons. A person I know uses one to practice his conducting. His old one connected to the computer through a MIDI interface (and his new one uses USB) so that way the music would follow his conducting. It is interesting how much information just the baton conveys, especially through the way modern conductors form the ictus. He can control the tempo, dynamics and many other more minute things.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43386689)

Motion tracking video of the baton (cheap webcam view from the side, colored foam ball on the baton end, track up/down motion with some very simple image processing); convert to a usable signal (e.g. audible clicks through an earpiece when the baton reaches maximum/minimum positions and turns around).

I doubt that would help. He needs to know about the velocity change as it happens, not after the next maximum/minimum is reached earlier or later than he was anticipating.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43386745)

See my own reply to my comment above, suggesting using stereo sound to "visualize" the continuous baton position. Once you've got the motion capture data, you can convert it to whatever output form you need to convey an adequate amount of information. Nonetheless, I suspect that even knowing just the endpoints would be mostly sufficient --- conductors don't generally rapidly/erratically vary the tempo from beat to beat (even the sighted singers couldn't accurately follow that), so you'll have time to feel the pace changing; for entrances, the conductor typically gives everyone a few beats in advance (so they know what tempo to expect) instead of launching in at the first sung beat. The only tricky part is interpreting held notes and cutoffs (the few cases where a conductor does indicate a one-off, out-of-beat timing), where the full motion information (converted from the motion capture to an audible or tactile signal) would be useful.

Re:motion tracking video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386731)

The choirmaster could use a remotely-controlled vibrator to send various signals to the woman. Of course she and the choirmaster would have to spend hours working out the meaning of the various pulses or vibration durations. Hopefully, her church does not frown upon such a deviant relationship.

Nah. Accelerometer (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43386847)

Seldom does the exact motion of the baton matter. Different conductors have different styles. But you could modify a Wii controller to follow the motion of the baton and turn it into pressure or some other kind of signal.

Re:Nah. Accelerometer (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43386863)

I should clarify what I mean about the motion not mattering.

Different conductors sweep the baton around different ways. But they will have common features related to the motions (when the upbeats and downbeats are, cues, and so on). It is the timing of the motions, rather than the gross motions, that are most important.

Re:Nah. Accelerometer (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43387063)

How you capture the motion --- visible light image tracking or accelerometers --- doesn't particularly matter, since it's trivial to convert position-v-time data to acceleration-v-time data. A concern I have about using many readily available off-the-shelf accelerometer devices (e.g. a game controller) is the form factor; a conductor will be pretty picky about what he/she is willing to wave around for a multi-hour performance; a Wii controller would get awfully tiring compared to a proper light and agile baton. An advantage to video motion capture is requiring minimal modification to the conductor's preferred baton: a small and light colored foam ball speared on the baton tip is going to be an easier sell than a Wiimote or some home-made hacked accelerometer lump held on with duct tape, which most conductors would be extremely unhappy with.

Re:Nah. Accelerometer (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387123)

Kinect is one idea, but Wii controllers are far, far too heavy for this application.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

g01d4 (888748) | about a year ago | (#43386965)

A bracelet on the singer could provide some type of tactile feedback. With clever signal processing the position of the tip of the baton would cause the singer to image it within the cross section of the body (e.g. forearm) encircled by the bracelet.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

rroman (2627559) | about a year ago | (#43387061)

The problem is delay. You would have to have expensive webcam and expensive computer in order not to have delay (half second is infinity). Moreover, when you look at the choirmaster, you can recognize that he is going to express the sign even before he actually does. This allows you to prepare. It would be hard to recognize this with such solution.

Re:motion tracking video (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43387151)

The blind singer doesn't have the option to "look at the choirmaster and recognize that he is going to express the sign even before he actually does"; any solution proposed here is going to have that problem, since there's pretty much no way to convey the full bandwidth of a visual scene to a blind person.

Latency in processing is indeed a problem. However, I think you are over-estimating the system latency if you think things will add up to half a second using any decent modern computer. A small amount of latency can even be mostly compensated by extrapolating the measured baton motion out (based on the first two derivatives) to its likely present position. In addition, the sighted singers have their own visual latency to deal with: human response times to audible stimuli are ~30ms faster than visual stimuli, so you can tolerate a video frame or two of latency without falling behind your sighted peers for response to abrupt, non-periodic indications (e.g. abrupt starts or cutoffs).

Counting down (1)

xombo (628858) | about a year ago | (#43386447)

Can't the choir director accommodate your disability by counting down the beginning of the song? Forcing you both to adapt some cumbersome technology seems silly.

Re:Counting down (3, Informative)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year ago | (#43386493)

Can't the choir director accommodate your disability by counting down the beginning of the song? Forcing you both to adapt some cumbersome technology seems silly.

The baton is used for more than just starting the a song.

Re:Counting down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386545)

Except that solving the problem of the start of the song was the question. Changing tempo can be solved with practice.

Re:Counting down (3, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | about a year ago | (#43386605)

"when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi" (My emphasis). No, it won't come with practice, because the conductor won't necessarily set exactly the same tempi every time. Not all music is done to click-tracks.

Re:Counting down (1)

digitig (1056110) | about a year ago | (#43386579)

Doesn't help with tempo changes in the middle of a song.

Re:Counting down (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#43386637)

Isn't learning these things part of rehearsal? Maybe an extra session with the conductor to determine what will be happening beforehand.

Re:Counting down (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43386709)

Tempo changes and such should be covered, but starting a song from silent room would be hard to do. They don't yell "5-6-7-8" clicking the drumsticks together before starting Ave Maria.

Re:Counting down (1)

SchMoops (2019810) | about a year ago | (#43387399)

Well, to be fair, musicians don't generally use 5-6-7-8; that's more commonly used for choreography. With 4/4 (most) music, it's 1-2-3-4. :)

Re:Counting down (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43386719)

By that logic a conductor is not needed during a performance; all they would have to do is press play. Every performance is a little different as the conductor modifies volume and tempo.

Re:Counting down (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43386595)

The way I've seen this regularly done (in one choir and one orchestra) was the conductor tapping the music stand with one rod while making visual cues with the other.

I though this was common practice when having blind members?

Re:Counting down (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43386747)

All I have seen tapping used for is to get a choir's attention. How does tapping convey volume change? Can the tapping be heard during loud portions of the song? Does tapping interfere with the music? Depending on where the wand is in the air also conveys which beat Conducting is much more than being a metronome.

Re:Counting down (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43386875)

All I have seen tapping used for is to get a choir's attention. How does tapping convey volume change?

It doesn't, but the point here (RTFS) was to be able to start at the right time. A blind musician is expected to remember what the conductor wants.
(So are others too - the conductor's role during a real concert is minimal; rehearsals is where you learn how to play or sing the piece the way the conductor wants>)

Re:Counting down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387175)

It doesn't, but the point here (RTFS) was to be able to start at the right time.

No, you RTFS.

Change in tempo (explicitly mentioned), fermata duration, cutoffs, and preparatory beats ALL MUST be conveyed by the conductor and followed by all performers. People are not machines. They can't be consistent to a small fraction of a second every time. That's why we have conductors.

(Other signals, by and large, are more important while learning the song than during performance, but are still used to convey important calibration hints mid-performance.)

Re:Counting down (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43387371)

You have obviously never played in an orchestra or sung in a choir, AC.

If your inaccuracy is several fractions of a second, you don't belong in an orchestra. Period.
Yes, the conductor's cues are to be followed, but the rehearsals are so you can learn them. Unlike a school band, you're already expected to know how to play - it's how to play the way the conductor wants you learn at rehearsals. If you can't remember it all, you scribble notes on the sheets so you can be prepared before the conductor gives a cue. He wants the crescendo to start slightly later than the sheet says? No problem.
If you're blind, well, remembering it is what you have to do. The conductor can still give you a clue to the tempo and when to start. And if he has a blind person playing, he will.

Everybody Chill. I Got This! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386455)

Use a Wiimote to detect the baton's position. [johnnylee.net] Then connect the position data to an electrical discharge device that the blind person can feel and thereby sense the position of the baton. I'm thinking a rectal cattle prod or something like that.

Of course you'd turn the power down to a low stun setting. Wouldn't you?

Hold someones hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386467)

Why a tech solution? let another singer hold your hand and give you cues on when to start and stop.

Re:Hold someones hand (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year ago | (#43386581)

This seems like the best solution.

It's really hard to imagine, given the state of tech today, something that was both light enough for the conductor to hold like a baton, and gave adquate round trip latency. While humans have pretty high latency, in this case it might be close to zero, since there are visual signals that precede the acual signal to start.

Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (5, Insightful)

sanpitch (9206) | about a year ago | (#43386481)

If you're singing in a choir, then you're standing next to someone else, who is likely sighted. Just have them give you the cue. It could be that they hold your upper arm, and slide it down to the elbow it as the choirmaster's baton drops. If the choirmaster gives a four-count before starting, then the helper's signal may be four squeezes on your arm, or four taps on your shoe. I don't imagine that it would take much training for a new person to help you with this, and it's much cheaper than some high-tech solution which may not work.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386729)

That really would not work very well, as you have to reply on the other persons response time added to your own plus motion delays etc.

A leap motion system for detection plus a tactile feed at the blind users location would work though and could be done on the cheap even in the tens of units.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

Titus Groan (2834723) | about a year ago | (#43386803)

>That really would not work very well, as you have to reply on the other persons response time added to your own plus motion delays etc. yes, singers and musicians are incapable of anticipating the beat, obviously. oh no, wait, they aren't!

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

the phantom (107624) | about a year ago | (#43386811)

Having sung in many choirs, I am quite sure that I have heard jokes about our inability to find a beat, watch a conductor, or read music. If there is a joke about it, it must be true, right? :P

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387113)

I have sung in many choirs competitively both in the US and internationally the original AC is quite correct about the delay being an issue.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

Phoenix Rising (28955) | about a year ago | (#43387267)

Having also sung in choirs and played music, a competent friend will be able to adjust for the delay in the same way that a marching band adjusts for delay across an entire football field. It's very doable.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (5, Informative)

Cow Jones (615566) | about a year ago | (#43386849)

FWIW, this is exactly what we do to cue a blind choir member.
It's not a geeky solution, and it involves people touching each other, but it's very reliable.
I can't imagine any sighted choir member refusing to do this.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

bmuon (1814306) | about a year ago | (#43386877)

You're assuming the tempo doesn't change throughout the piece. This isn't true for a lot of musical pieces. This really needs a technical solution.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387207)

No tech solution is needed, just a greater refinement of the helping friend idea.

For instance, holding hands down low, and having the sighted friend move his hand in a very subtle beat pattern when things change.

Re:Have someone next to you squeeze your arm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386917)

Or, you could stand close enough to the conductor that the baton whacks you at every beat.

Two ideas (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43386501)

1. I'd be tempted to attach an accelerometer to the conductor's baton or hand. This could probably be made small and unobtrusive enough to not be a bother. I'm not sure how to present the information. Detecting the beats may not be so tough, but I suspect you could do better. If you look at even electronic metronomes or metronome software for instance, some will still have a display that mimics the old mechanical arm. This provides useful information, as it shows the progress to the next beat, which allows you to anticipate (based on more than the time of the previous beat) rather than just react. If you convert either the acceleration or a derived speed or derived location to a tone in an earpiece, you may be able to learn to use it.

2. Have either the conductor or an assistant murmur the beat into a microphone which you pick up.

Woah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386517)

Oblig That's What She Said.

Let's have more FSs written in quasi-haiku cadences, too.

i have discovered
how to break into a bank
steal the chained up pens.

I write good haikus
Better than I've seen posted
Why don't you post this?

hunter thompson says
"did you eat all this acid"
crazy samoan

Get a friend to help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386521)

Have the person next to you hold your hand and squeeze.

I know, it's a boring nontechnical solution, but I'm pretty sure it will work out of the box (or with just a little practice). As long as you don't stand in the front row, it shouldn't even be apparent to the audience.

Re:Get a friend to help (1)

digitig (1056110) | about a year ago | (#43386619)

It's also slightly delayed, which could be an issue.

already solved (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#43386557)

use a vibrating dildo with with wireless remote; with wide adoption could even put the baton industry out of business

Re:already solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386771)

use a vibrating dildo with with wireless remote; with wide adoption could even put the baton industry out of business

Hey! You stole my idea. I am going to sue you for patent infringement.

Re:already solved (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43387091)

Might also want to ask the local police department for instructions on proper baton usage.

Re:already solved (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#43387313)

oh? what kind of motor do they attach to theirs?

Kinect + Shock Collar (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#43386567)

I know -- it sounds like a joke in poor taste. But hear me out: By using a kinect to track the wand, you could have it control a shock collar by having it emit short pulses to create morse code. You can wear the collar as a bracelet and have it turned down super low.

Obviously not a lot of choral singers on slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386569)

A musician gets so much more information from a conductor than just the tempo of the music. Ideally, there would be a way to get a full 3d "view" of the choirmaster's baton, and preferably hands, too. I'm thinking on the singer's end, the solution should be tactile, that's the only way I think to provide enough information while not being distracting.

lo tech (1)

devforhire (2658537) | about a year ago | (#43386607)

Could you do something with vibration in the floor/chair? Someone tapping the beat on the rungs of the chair or floor.

answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386613)

simple...he is the choir master!

I've done something similar for a deaf lady (1)

freman (843586) | about a year ago | (#43386639)

She couldn't hear people enter the shop...

Vibrating bracelet bluetooth bracelet and replace the baton with a wiimote :)

Two ideas.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386671)

1. Add a small analog 16G accelerometer to the tip of the baton, and use the analog signal to modulate a sound - I'd suggest starting with a white noise and use a narrow band filter that changes in frequency based on the motion. - Up strokes would track to higher, down strokes to lower. Using white noise as the carrier rather than a tone would prevent you from being distracted by the frequency of the tone while singing.

2. Just stick a tiny cell-phone type mic at the top of the wand, and run the resulting wind noise from the motion to an earpiece.

Kinect-like solution (1)

Letophoro (1417231) | about a year ago | (#43386677)

There are really two issues at hand: 1. Tracking the baton. -and- 2. Getting the information to the singer. The first issue is easy enough to do with a Kinect or similar device as many people have done. The second is somewhat more complex in that it requires the recipient to get the position of the baton in real-time in order to detect tempo and direction. My first thought is a pair of devices (left and right) that the intended recipient has in his/her possession. The devices can output a vibration at a baseline frequency at a baseline amplitude. The devices could be set up to respond to the output of the Kinect in such a way that the left-right position of the baton is tracked by changing the amplitude of the devices. E.g. - as the baton moves to the left of center relative to the at rest position, the amplitude of the left device becomes greater than that of the device on the right. In the same way, frequency can be adjusted up as the the baton moves higher than the at rest position. Wired devices that are held in the hand would be easiest.

Re:Kinect-like solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386711)

I was thinking something similar, but maybe a device/devices held in the hands with weights and motors that can actually "pull" in the direction the baton is moving.

Star Wars light saber. Seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386703)

The sound effects for the light sabers in the original Star Wars were modified during battle scenes by waving, basically, a baton-like microphone around to match the waving around on-screen. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . The result they wanted was to change the pitch, but what you also got was an audible sense of the motion of the baton.

Re:Star Wars light saber. Seriously. (1)

pbjones (315127) | about a year ago | (#43386781)

Use similar electronics but transmit the sound via a Bluetooth ear piece. 2D and 3D G-force sensors make the idea simple. First one to the patent office wins the prize!

Re:Star Wars light saber. Seriously. (1)

Letophoro (1417231) | about a year ago | (#43386935)

I don't think actually transmitting a sound that is audible would be a great idea. That might interfere with the ability to match pitch.

Bluetooth earrings that transmit a non-audible vibration would be pretty cool though.

Wrong forum - ask a choir director (2)

rrkaiser (676130) | about a year ago | (#43386741)

Ask someone who's encountered the problem and seen it solved... Like a choir director or one of the many organizations of choir and choral directors. Here's one. http://www.chorusamerica.org/ [chorusamerica.org] Part of the purpose of such organizations is to share information about what works for common and uncommon situations.

It would help blind chorus singers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386749)

All 12 of them.

This is more difficult than it seems. (3, Insightful)

robbak (775424) | about a year ago | (#43386769)

Although the choir starts singing on the large downward movement of the baton, that is not the cue the choir is using - if the started singing after seeing the downward movement, they would always be late. They are actually taking their cue from the very subtle upward movement just before the downward sweep. Even detecting this would be difficult. The size of this movement, and the delay between this movement and the drop, whether a movement is the of the 'get ready' upward sweep... all very difficult and confusing things. And the nature of the movements will change depending on conductor, the nature of the music, or even the conductors mood. The human brain sorts all of these things out just fine. The best idea is one I read from another poster here - have the neighbour of blind singer give them their cue.

Easy solution. (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#43386773)

OK, so we've got posts here about wiring up a webcam to a computer to do motion tracking and such...how about build a simple pedal with a momentary push button and have the conductor tap his feet on that, then connect that to, say, a 555 timer to generate an audible tone while the button is depressed which can be routed to some sort of earpiece or headphone -- or even a piezo element which the singer should be able to feel vibrate or click. Whole solution shouldn't cost more than $20, and that's at Radioshack prices. And it could be put together in an afternoon. Only downside is you'd need to have a wire running between the conductor and the singer, and it may be slightly more complicated for the conductor. Could have one of the other musicians tap his foot instead and see if that'd work, that would shorten the run of wire as well.

Simplistic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386787)

Have the person next to you tap the beat on your foot or very close to you with theirs and feel that.

Count (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#43386829)

I play tenor sax (badly ...) and practice to backing tracks provided by my ever-patient teacher. He provides some ticks (baton hitting the stand...) before the music and after that, if I drift from the backing track I know I'm out. Or it is :) It's difficult if you're a soloist, and doing an unaccompanied bit: I had "The Long and Winding road" once, which has a bit where the soloist (me) is all by himself for about ten seconds ,,, cojones of steel...

And good luck to your blind friend. It's difficult enough sighted. Lord knows how your friend will tell a minim from a crotchet. Experience, I guess.

Re:Count (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year ago | (#43387259)

Lord knows how your friend will tell a minim from a crotchet.

I've never had the opportunity to ask this before: Does anyone still call them that, or were you joking? If that really is what you're used to calling them, then where are you?

discrimination and detection needed (3, Informative)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | about a year ago | (#43386857)

However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late.

Ah .. the trauma of remembering band practice:

Every conductor has a different style. The signal to start your part of a song that has already begun may be a small flick or pointing of the baton in your general direction, barely interrupting the overall tempo of the conducting, or if you have a dramatic conductor it can be a two-handed "picador going over the horns" gesture ... or no gesture at all.

Because the baton may be signalling to someone near the OP - in front or behind - but not the OP, the problem is discrimination as much as detection.

Also, it's not always a down beat. Changes of volume, extended notes and the final cut off of a long final note may be sweeping or tiny gestures sideways or straight towards the choir or orchestra.

Very few conductors will make big changes in tempo from what was practiced. No good will come of it.

In short, it might be more practical to start on the second note and drop out on the next to last note, paying attention to the parts of the production that immediately precede your bits so you are ready for it.

"one, two, three, four,...." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43386943)

Just have the choirmaster do a brief "tap, tap, tap" with the baton to get the choir's attention, then accompany his initial measure with a soft count of "one, two, three, four". Every band symphonic or marching band I ever played with did this already, and I just assumed the same was true for choir. The only technology necessary is to remind the choirmaster that not everyone can see the baton.

Re:"one, two, three, four,...." (1)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | about a year ago | (#43387217)

It's not just "let's get started, folks". There are intra-song cues and signals coming from the conductor's baton that must be detected - instructing a small group of instruments or voices to start and stop independently of the rest of the group, instructions to hold and fade a note, instructions to chop off a long finale ... it's a complex and almost entirely gesture-based communication.

Here's an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387045)

any smartphone could accomplish this task, they all have accelerometers and gyroscopes and whathaveyou. Simply have the phones accelerometer send a signal to a another smartphone on vibrate, this could easily be accomplished through a simple app, then the choirmaster simply holds the phone in the same hand as his baton (or strapped onto the back of his hand. Or simply the phone becomes the new baton. Latency could be reduced by having an adhoc wireless network connecting them ( as they wont be too far away).

easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387049)

Strap a light or IR transmitter to the tip of the baton that delivers a signal to a device taped to your temple. Then when it receives the signal it can shock you or give an auditory response. Shocking would be funnier though.

Leap Motion controller + TTS (1)

Gerardo Capiel (2890581) | about a year ago | (#43387167)

The Leap Motion gesture interface coupled with Text-To-Speech feedback may be a good solution.

Dont be a retard. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43387173)

Have you ever listened to a song enough could sing a long to it? Well, you don't exactly need eyes to do that do you?

Its called practice.

Just, how damned stupid are you people?

Friend's hand (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#43387239)

A friend's hand, tapping in rhyhm; or the baton itself tapping the podium. Or the friend's foot tapping the rhythm, which you hear.

For solos, some creativity on the conductor's part can eliminate the problem.

For a tech solution, I wonder if there is something from wii?

simple ways (0)

doginthewoods (668559) | about a year ago | (#43387287)

is to use a remote mike either on the conductor or on an ensemble member, to simply speak the precount or downbeat. or a footswitch, to be stepped on in time to to music, although this can be tricky with different count ins. The footswitch could be rigged to a relay, that would "thump" the underside of the piano bench or a chair. either could be used with a small amp and small monitor speaker, or maybe an open ear ITE monitor

Depends on the level of the choir (1)

Phoenix Rising (28955) | about a year ago | (#43387293)

I sang in a semi-pro choir for a while and at one point our director had us all move to the edges of the largish church we were rehearsing, had us face the church walls (i.e. away from each other).... and start singing in unison. Believe it or not, if you know the music and the group you're singing with, it's very doable.

Barring that, having someone who knows what they're doing holding the blind person's hand and tapping or squeezing should do the trick.

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