This question is inspired by comments to this related question:

I would be surprised unless you could find a mobile app or at least some Apple/PC SW that filters out a given instrument from the orchestra sound.

Is this possible at all?

  • 1
    Tuomo should prepare to be surprised, then. – Kilian Foth Oct 16 at 6:42
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    It is possible to some extent, but not like in the C.S.I. TV show. Melodyne can separate individual voices, though not necessarily instruments. It's not perfect and not like in the movies though, but kind of sort of a little bit like a step in the general direction of being able to separate instruments. – piiperi Oct 16 at 10:26

No it is not possible given the current state of art. Therefore recording engineers distribute microphones to have separate tracks for the instruments or instrument groups (so they can change the balance) and therefore special recordings as music minus one are required with filtered soloist voice to produce training material with full tutti voices and nothing else.

Artifical Intelligence may provide that possibility in the future, but I would not hold breath.

Note that splitting to all components is even more difficult, than to extract one instrument.

  • Interesting. I intuitively thought that if the input was e.g. a CD quality sound, somehow combining the following: 1) The instruments aren't perfectly tuned, i.e. some differences in the "nominal frequency". 2) Frequency profile, like amplitudes of the harmonics and normal frequency modes of the instruments 3) The fact that the members don't [regardless of from which position one "listens"] play exactly in the same rhythm 4) Cross-correlating [filtered] R and L channels to finds which frequency components, impacts etc come from the same direction. But, I guess I was too optimistic ;-( – Tuomo Oct 16 at 11:53
  • Not even close to possible, since trying to pull out the overtones belonging to each instrument simply can't happen. – Carl Witthoft Oct 16 at 13:24

No, at the present state-of-the-art, 'un-baking the cake' isn't practically achievable except in special cases like a stereo recording with ONLY one instrument being panned centre etc.

However, I would be very surprised if the military aren't interested in software that can isolate one voice from a babble. If that is successful, stand by for a spin-off.

  • @"Maybe the brother of Max": while I guess we would never had ended up to the point where someone is walking on the moon without having a sufficiently challenging mind, I do love your cake unbaking symbolism [sorry for my non-native English!] – Tuomo Oct 19 at 13:43

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