Voice and Machine | by "The Formant Brothers" (Masahiro Miwa and Nobuyasu Sakonda)

This video introduces a 20-year history of a Japanese computer music unit "The Formant Brothers”, and summarizes their ongoing technical challenges in vocal synthesis programming and philosophical reflections about the voice. Started from well-known formant synthesis, the Brothers have drifted away from today’s speech synthesis technologies in general by their strong interests on real-time performances. In the course of creating musical works using these technologies, they have also engaged in a number of speculations based on their phenomenological experiences with artificial voices. As a result, they have developed a unique theoretical insight into the human voice that crosses a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, phonetics, communication theory, and cognitive science. This video will discuss in detail various issues such as the unconscious mechanism of recognizing a voice, the inevitable existence of the subject of voice, and an inquiry into the "voice itself" without the elements of speaking and singing, and so on.

"The Formant Brothers" is a composition cooperative started by Masahiro Miwa (big brother) and Nobuyasu Sakonda (little brother) in 2000. They have been focusing their interest on "voice and machine" and working with the artificial voices generated in realtime with their original formant synthesis system.

Main works: "Ordering a Pizza de Brothers (2003)", "Le Tombeau de Freddie/L'internationale (2009)", "Yume no Waltz (2012)", "PR(L)AYING VOICE/STABAT MATER (2015)", etc. All of "The Formant brothers" works referenced in this video are available on the website or also on YouTube if you search by name.

Masahiro Miwa was born in Tokyo in 1958. In 1978 he moved to Germany and studied composition at the National Academy of Art in Berlin and at the Robert Schumann National Academy in Düsseldorf. Since the latter half of the 1980's, Miwa has released countless works that were created using the method known as algorithmic composition. He is currently president at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS), Japan.

Nobuyasu Sakonda was born in Kobe/Japan in 1961. After receiving a master's degree in sociological theory, he moved into media arts research and has published several Max/MSP programming textbooks. He is currently a professor at the Nagoya University of Arts and Sciences, School of Media and Design, working particularly in the area of artificial voice and artistic expression with it.

Authors website:



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