The Throat

The Throat is a series of real-time on-stage systems built for gestural interaction with an operatic singer’s vocal performance, allowing for both artist-led accompaniment and manipulation of the quality of the resulting sound.

Common to the four versions is that they consist of a. signal-processing software running on a computer (or on an iPhone) and that b. wearable interaction technologies which impose changes in the processing of the voice through bodily engagements of different kinds.

The first version, The Throat I, was developed in 2005 for Hybrid, Creatures and Labyrinths  by Carl Unander-Scharin, who programmed and devised it. It was based on a gamer pad and a microphone headset connected to Max/MSP software. It enabled the singer to digitally process vocal lines and layer multiple copies of the voice in polyrhythms.


The Throat II was employed to create vocal landscapes based on the voice of a soprano – performing in real-time and captured by microphones hidden in the props – during sleeping sessions, creating a haunting and nightmarish atmosphere.

The development work related to The Throat III has been detailed in the publications below. The idea of accompanying and changing the voice through movements with the hand and/or other limbs, combines ideas from The Virtual Viola da Gamba with those from The Throat I and II. However, in Throat III the idea of using artist-operated, interactive technology (as explored in Throat I and Throat II) as a metaphor for an artistic idea could finally be realized in the work concerning The Elephant Man opera. The Throat III has also been extensively used in the artistic works Artificial Body Voices, Calligrammes, Sing the Body Electric!, Isagel as well as in the Extended Opera Courses.


Throat for iPhone is a spin-off from Throat III, developed by Ludvig Elblaus and Opera Mecatronica. The fundamental idea, the processing of voice creating for real-time accompaniment and manipulations in the sound of the voice dependent on bodily engagement remains the same. However, in Throat for iPhone, the whole artifact is wearable. An iPhone 4S is fed with vocals from a microphone that is connected to a small soundboard. The gyroscope of the iPhone transfers movements in space to chord changes, whereas movements of fingers on the touch screen can change the quality of the processed sound. Importantly, the singer can thus distort the voice with the iPhone by changing the position of the handheld unit, a feature that is used ad-lib in different ways by the various singers


Research articles:

http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:667858
http://www.speech.kth.se/prod/publications/files/3569.pdf
https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/LMJ_a_00187

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