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Karplus-Strong Guitar Synthesizer (andre-michelle.com)
14 points by ajkirwin on Feb 27, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 3 comments

Readers in the US should be aware that by running this piece of software they are violating a patent that might still be valid.

Karplus-Strong is a really interesting example for the effect of software patents. It is a very efficient and powerful algorithm (3 voice polyphony on a Z80), but it has never been used in any successful instrument. IIRC only one commercial synthesizer manufacturer licensed the patent, but only as a defnsive measure without actually using it in a product. Just imagine all the musuc that might have been without this patent.

One effect of software patents is for people to say "wow that's a great idea! how can we invent around it?" In the prospecting theory, if one guy finds a gold mine, other people try digging around his "claims". But I don't know if that actually happened here.

PS: the patents, from 1986 and 87 would have expired by now - they're linked from the bottom of the wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karplus-Strong_string_synthesis

BTW: I remember physical simulation synthesisers were available roughly 20 years ago (I don't know if they took off or not - one had a saxophone mouthpiece, and it sounded unbelievably realistic). There's usually more than one way to do it.

A really interesting piece of audio software engineering. An incredible sounding guitar synthesizer!

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