Integration of User Perceptions in the Design Process: Application to Musical Instrument Optimization

[+] Author and Article Information
Emilie Poirson1

 Institut de Recherche en Communications et Cybernétique de Nantes, UMR CNRS 6597, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, 1 rue la Noe, BP 92101, 44321 Nantes Cedex 3, Franceemilie.poirson@irccyn.ec-nantes.fr

Jean-François Petiot

 Institut de Recherche en Communications et Cybernétique de Nantes, UMR CNRS 6597, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, 1 rue la Noe, BP 92101, 44321 Nantes Cedex 3, France

Joël Gilbert

 Laboratoire d’Acoustique de l’Université du Maine, UMR CNRS 6613, Avenue Olivier Messiaen, 72085 Le Mans, France

The study of sound production in brass shows that there is a complex aeroelastic coupling between the lips of the musician and the resonator. Thus, the intonation of the instrument is not only controlled by the closest resonance frequency but possibly conditioned by upper resonance frequencies of the resonator.

The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. 1200cents are equal to an octave and an equally tempered semitone is equal to 100cents, in any part of the scale.


Corresponding author.

J. Mech. Des 129(12), 1206-1214 (May 31, 2007) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2790969 History: Received July 19, 2006; Revised May 31, 2007

This paper describes a user-centered design method, which allows the integration of user’s perceptions in different stages of the design process, by taking into account his/her needs and preferences. It relies on two domains which remain generally distinct: the design with a scientific approach (generally math based) and the integration of users’ perceptions, preferences, tastes, inherently subjective. We apply this method to the design of musical instruments, products for which the feelings of the user are of prime importance, and remain so far difficult to integrate for the design/improvement of an instrument. The methodology is made of two main stages: (1) a subjective study, based on the sensory analysis techniques, during which a “product space” (a family of trumpets) is assessed by a panel of experts according to sensory attributes, and (2) an objective study of the instruments, based on the physical measurement of a specific characteristic of brasses: the acoustic input impedance. Then, data analysis is used to correlate perceptive and objective evaluations, in order to deduce design rules and to formulate the improvement of a perceptive characteristic of the product (the intonation) as a multicriteria optimization problem. The design of the inner shape (the bore) of a “new” instrument is finally made by solving the multicriteria optimization problem using genetic algorithms.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Synopsis of the user-centered design methodology

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Figure 2

Design of the parametrized leadpipe

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Figure 3

Input impedance Zin of a trumpet (magnitude)

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Figure 4

Representation of the 12 individuals (the trumpets) and the five variables in the factorial plane

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Figure 5

Representation of an individual and its coding

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Figure 6

Structure of the evaluation of a population

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Figure 7

Definition of the shape of the resonator for the calculation of Zin, and of the design variables r2, r3, r4



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