Open Access

Sound Synthesis of the Harpsichord Using a Computationally Efficient Physical Model

  • Vesa Välimäki1Email author,
  • Henri Penttinen1,
  • Jonte Knif2,
  • Mikael Laurson2 and
  • Cumhur Erkut1
EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing20042004:860718

Received: 24 June 2003

Published: 27 June 2004


A sound synthesis algorithm for the harpsichord has been developed by applying the principles of digital waveguide modeling. A modification to the loss filter of the string model is introduced that allows more flexible control of decay rates of partials than is possible with a one-pole digital filter, which is a usual choice for the loss filter. A version of the commuted waveguide synthesis approach is used, where each tone is generated with a parallel combination of the string model and a second-order resonator that are excited with a common excitation signal. The second-order resonator, previously proposed for this purpose, approximately simulates the beating effect appearing in many harpsichord tones. The characteristic key-release thump terminating harpsichord tones is reproduced by triggering a sample that has been extracted from a recording. A digital filter model for the soundboard has been designed based on recorded bridge impulse responses of the harpsichord. The output of the string models is injected in the soundboard filter that imitates the reverberant nature of the soundbox and, particularly, the ringing of the short parts of the strings behind the bridge.

Keywords and phrases

acoustic signal processingdigital filter designelectronic musicmusical acoustics

Authors’ Affiliations

Laboratory of Acoustics and Audio Signal Processing, Helsinki University of Technology
Sibelius Academy, Centre for Music and Technology


© Välimäki et al. 2004