play any instrument with your voice.
explore and create music with only
a microphone.

mind to melody
simply sing or whistle to control
any music software as if you are
playing on a USB keyboard.
intuitive, instant, expressive.

an invention for everyone
revolutionary audio technology
in a tool anyone can use
to learn, to create, to play.
designed to enable.

- exactly what does imitone do?

imitone translates sound into MIDI, the "language" of digital music.

As a virtual keyboard, it can control almost any music app or instrument.
Because it is nearly instant, you can sing and feel like you're playing.

imitone also understands humming, whistling and musical instruments.
Optional modes let you control loudness, vibrato and other effects live.

- how is imitone different from other software?

I say imitone is "intuitive, instant and expressive".

intuitive, because it is the first program of its kind designed with beginners in mind. It takes the place of a conventional keyboard, and requires almost no set-up to get started with any music app.

instant, because it operates in real-time. Its groundbreaking algorithm can lock onto tones with an unprecedented combination of latency and accuracy, recording even the tiniest fluctuations in pitch and loudness.

expressive, because it is designed top-to-bottom as an object of play -- to make you feel as if the instrument you're playing is an extension of your voice.

... Okay, what's the catch?

imitone makes music from your voice, not your thoughts.
To use it effectively, you must sing in tune -- which takes learning.

imitone aids in this process by visualizing the tone of your voice like a guitar tuner. With continued use, you can learn to sing in perfect tune, and to use imitone more effectively.

... I am a rocket scientist. Give me a technical explanation.

Instead of the traditional Fourier Transform approach to pitch analysis, imitone uses a completely new technique called the "self-attuning resonator cell".

Self-attuning resonators are capable of "locking on" to the precise frequency of a tonal sound, and "riding" it around the spectrum as it fluctuates. This attunement is both fast and precise so imitone can, for instance, precisely graph the sweeps of a rapid vibrato.

This core technology enables highly accurate pitch tracking at very low latencies, and can detect changes in volume, vibrato and timbre in real-time.

- how well does it work?

Though unfinished, imitone is already the world's most responsive real-time voice MIDI controller. This owes to its novel resonator technology.

You can see a recent version of imitone in action here:

It is in beta and will see significant improvements before release.

... I need details! What's the latency?

Due to the science involved it would be dishonest to give a hard millisecond number. The short explanation is: like the human ear, imitone reacts more quickly to higher-pitched sounds.

The long explanation:
imitone's algorithm can lock onto a tone and begin playing it in 3-7 periods of the tone. The number of periods depends on how "simple" the tone is. Whistles and high vocal notes are very simple, while deep, gritty sounds are more complex and tend to respond more slowly. To find the millisecond latency for a given pitch, divide a number between 3000 and 7000 by its frequency. For instance, an alto "A4" note at 440hz will pick up in 7 - 16 milliseconds -- typically closer to 7 because at this range the voice is clear. A3 doubles those numbers while A5 halves them.

- what do I need to use imitone?

imitone should run on almost any PC or Mac from the last 6 years.
You will need a microphone, some headphones and a music app.

For best results, use imitone in a quiet place -- away from background noise like people talking, television, or music.

The music app can be virtually any piece of music software -- if it can use a MIDI keyboard, it can use imitone.

...why do I need another music app?

imitone is designed as a controller: small, simple and good at its job.
As a small company, it would take many years to make even a simple music production program. imitone talks to other programs so it can leverage their power while remaining small and inexpensive.

Our "getting started" guide (forthcoming) describes several accessible apps (including free ones) that can be used to get off the ground with imitone.

The final version of imitone will include several built-in instruments, as a "try me" mode.

...what kind of microphone should I use?

The microphone does not need to be anything special -- imitone works well even with low-quality microphones.

What is more important is isolation from background noise, which is why headphones are recommended. It is better to use a microphone which is close to your mouth than one which is far away.

Use of a cardioid microphone and careful adjustment of imitone's volume threshold can make it possible to use imitone without headphones, or even in loud environments such a live music performances. A throat microphone can isolate your voice even better, but these can be difficult to find.

...why do I need headphones?

So imitone hears you and not your speakers.

If you are controlling a digital instrument, and its sound is coming from your speakers, then your microphone will detect two tones: Your voice, and the instrument. This leads to feedback loops where a note will keep triggering itself after you have stopped singing.

- what is different between imitone's editions?

imitone is an accessible tool for everyone, with the goal of allowing non-musicians to express their musical ideas on a computer. It is designed to be taken in at a glance and approached like a toy, offering everything you need and very little you don't:

- Universally Compatible

imitone is a virtual MIDI controller. All major music software supports MIDI, meaning imitone can be used with nearly any desktop music application or virtual instrument.

imitone can also direct its MIDI out to a hardware device, making it possible to control analog synthesizers with your voice.

- Scale Correction
You may set imitone to a scale and key so that it automatically corrects each note you sing to be in tune.
- Automatic Scale Detection
By listening to your song for a few seconds, imitone can automatically select its musical key and scale.
(this feature is not implemented yet, and will appear in imitone Beta 0.8.0)
- Octave Shift
You can transpose your voice up or down by octaves in order to control instruments higher and deeper than you can sing.
- Loudness Control
This function allows you to control the loudness of an instrument with that of your voice, live.
It is especially intuitive for horn and woodwind instruments.
- Vibrato Control
Because imitone can track the pitch of your voice precisely, your vibrato can be used to control that of an instrument.
This can be very expressive with string and woodwind instruments.
- Note Modes
imitone has different ways to interpret movement between notes. It can react as if you're dragging your finger across a piano (glissando), flow from note to note (portamento) or follow the pitch of your voice exactly rather than sticking to notes (pitch bend).
The best way to understand the differences between these modes is to try them!
- Percussion Control
Future versions of imitone will offer a mode which allows you to control virtual drums with everyday objects or mouth sounds by training imitone to recognize your improvised beats.

imitone prime is a full-featured tool for performers, hackers and professionals. It offers the full capabilities of imitone's technology, but demands greater technical knowledge to use:

- Multiple Instrument Control ("hands-free band")

imitone prime can process multiple microphones in parallel, directing each one to a different MIDI channel where it may control a different instrument. Each voice can be configured separately, allowing you to fine-tune a completely virtual performance.

See a demonstration here.

- Adjustable Tuning and Microtonal Support

imitone is limited to A440, 12-edo tuning. imitone prime will support arbitrary tunings, including just- and well-tuning, microtonal scales and custom schemes imported from Scala files.

Certain features such as automatic scale detection may be limited when using unusual tunings.

- Timbre controls
imitone prime will feature brightness and harmonicity controls as CCs. Other timbral articulations will be added as they're discovered. Support for these articulations is somewhat rare among MIDI instruments, but they can be implemented using filters or mapped to other effects.
- Experimental Polyphonic Detection

This experimental feature will detect multiple simultaneous notes, allowing two people to sing into a single microphone, or control over imitone with multiple-stringed instruments.

Because this is an incredibly difficult problem to solve, there are no guarantees it will work well!

- Fully-configurable MIDI

imitone prime will support reconfiguration of each articulation to custom CCs (coarse or fine) or aftertouch (mono or poly). Pitch bend range and ranges for other articulations will also be accessible.

Support for keyswitches is tentatively planned. These will allow you to use another MIDI controller to toggle settings or select presets in imitone, allowing you to control it on-the-fly during performances.

- Tweakable

imitone prime will provide access to hidden "knobs and dials", allowing you to fine-tune the algorithm for your needs.

This is most useful when using imitone in an unusual way -- transcribing spoken words to notes, for instance, or using an exotic instrument.

Note that only Multiple Instrument Control is available currently!
For this reason imitone prime is currently offered at a discount.

- who makes imitone?

imitone is independent software by Interactopia LLC, a tiny company located in Ames, Iowa.  We create software for a sense of wonder.

Evan Balster -- Developer, Customer Support (contact)
Richard Hogg -- Graphic Designer (consultant)
Marlon Wiebe -- Videographer (consultant)

pre-order imitone for mac and pc
(includes instant access to beta versions)
select an edition:

be advised that the beta is a work-in-progress and may have bugs!

developed by evan balster
design by richard hogg
successfully funded on Kickstarter

imitone and the imitone logo are trademarks of Interactopia LLC. Kickstarter is a trademark of Kickstarter, Inc.