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Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton? 189

Posted by timothy
from the vinz-clortho-the-choirmaster dept.
New submitter krid4 writes "Question from a blind friend: 'My ears replace my eyes. However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late. Neither tuning in with the voices around me, nor listening to the moment of their breathing-in helps to solve this problem. Fancy that it might be possible to produce tactile pressure or even lines at the top of my right hand, head or body. Even pulses would do, because what finally counts is the moment of the 'beat' produced by the choirmasters baton.' What simple, possibly DIY solutions are possible? It would help many blind chorus singers."
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Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton?

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  • Re:Counting down (Score:3, Informative)

    by BradleyUffner (103496) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @06:21PM (#43386493) Homepage

    Can't the choir director accommodate your disability by counting down the beginning of the song? Forcing you both to adapt some cumbersome technology seems silly.

    The baton is used for more than just starting the a song.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 07, 2013 @06:45PM (#43386663)

    They already have motion sensitive batons. A person I know uses one to practice his conducting. His old one connected to the computer through a MIDI interface (and his new one uses USB) so that way the music would follow his conducting. It is interesting how much information just the baton conveys, especially through the way modern conductors form the ictus. He can control the tempo, dynamics and many other more minute things.

  • by Cow Jones (615566) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @07:18PM (#43386849)

    FWIW, this is exactly what we do to cue a blind choir member.
    It's not a geeky solution, and it involves people touching each other, but it's very reliable.
    I can't imagine any sighted choir member refusing to do this.

  • However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late.

    Ah .. the trauma of remembering band practice:

    Every conductor has a different style. The signal to start your part of a song that has already begun may be a small flick or pointing of the baton in your general direction, barely interrupting the overall tempo of the conducting, or if you have a dramatic conductor it can be a two-handed "picador going over the horns" gesture ... or no gesture at all.

    Because the baton may be signalling to someone near the OP - in front or behind - but not the OP, the problem is discrimination as much as detection.

    Also, it's not always a down beat. Changes of volume, extended notes and the final cut off of a long final note may be sweeping or tiny gestures sideways or straight towards the choir or orchestra.

    Very few conductors will make big changes in tempo from what was practiced. No good will come of it.

    In short, it might be more practical to start on the second note and drop out on the next to last note, paying attention to the parts of the production that immediately precede your bits so you are ready for it.

  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @07:20PM (#43386861)

    I would suggest an accelerometer mounted to baton/conductor and a rumble motor

    I'm a robotics researcher - some of my work includes developing aids for the blind. Of all the comments here, this is the sanest one and the one that would actually work for people with vision impairment. It's simple, it's cheap and it will WORK. We've had good success with similar systems for other tasks like navigation and playing soccer.

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