featuring celletto

Chris Chafe is a composer, cellist, music reseacher and director of Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. more...


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Built in 1988, the celletto is an electronic cello that's a cousin of the electric guitar. It has four analog string outputs and a fifth mono output with all strings summed. Recent music, especially improvisations, are found on this web site's recordings  page.  Arcology   is a compilation of performances through 1999 ( liner notes ). The celletto's built-in string pickups and electronics were designed by Max Mathews along with a system for translating bow motion into MIDI built with Jay Kadis' help using an accelerometer and strain gauge. A MIDI device, the Lightning, from Buchla Associates is an infrared position detector that tracks the bow arm and figured in some of the earlier pieces. Currently, I just use it straight -- no sensing, only string sound.

I began with a block of maple and carved the celletto seeking my way into all the fun keyboard players were having with live MIDI-based computer synthesis. It turned out to be a much more in-depth project as sophisticated audio computing and software synthesis became available. It has remained a work-in-progress as sensing, synthesis and processing continue to develop. As a performer, it's my platform for engaging the capabilities of computers which are still to come.