Back in the 1980’s the team of the Indian Society for Traditional Arts Research (ISTAR) started work on computer assisted research of Hindustani classical music. It was the engineer and computer scientist Bernard Bel who created a laboratory at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai with the support of the same institution and the Ford Foundation. Apart from Bernard the team included Joep Bor (botanist and sarangi player), Jim Arnold (musicologist and dhrupad singer) and Wim van der Meer (anthropologist and khayal singer). Joep, Jim and Wim were gurubhai’s, they had all studied with Pandit Dilip Chandra Vedi. Vediji was one of the stalwarts of Hindustani music, disciple of the greatest of the first half of the twentieth century: Bhaskar Rao Bakhle, Faiyaz Khan and Alladiya Khan. Moreover he had learned dhrupad with Uttam Singh of Tilwandi gharana. The laboratory at NCPA was unique, pitch was extracted with the help of analog filters and then recorded to an apple computer.
In the 90s computers made great progress, and we could process the sound digitally. Not only could we bypass the analog filters but moreover the model of fundamental pitch extraction was based on the current theories of pitch perception. I wrote this software (PitchXtractor) in a variant of C for Macintosh but still the processing time was about 50 times longer than the original. To be able to represent the numerical output in a graph I wrote PitchPlotter, and to rewrite turn the numeric data into sangam notation I wrote some short programs in Prolog. In Leiden I had access to the LVS software running on a microVax, which was faster but rather cumbersome. Fortunately my colleagues in Amsterdam University came up with PRAAT which we have been using ever since.
The visuals on the AUTRIM website were done by Mumbai based filmmaker Rustom Irani and his colleague, Salil P. Kawli. My friend and colleague Amine Beyhom improved visualization with amazing results on his website Nemo online.
Recently I read a reviewreview
of the AUTRIM website by Jeanne Miramon Bonhoure in which she suggests it would be nice to have 5-line notation besides the graph and the sangam.