May 24th, 2019
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05/31/2006 - Distributed Music Experiment Concludes

The concluding session for the VPnet, Craig Volosing, and EWU milestone experiment in distributed music was performed Friday, May 19. The long term purpose of the project is to enable musicians to interact live, at a distance, over a computer network as if they were playing together in the same room. (To learn the parameters of the experiment, see “VPnet Project Passes Musical Milestone” The observations after the initial session were that tone quality was adequate, but the time was unsatisfactory. All agreed that on the fastest song, there was a delay of one-half beat.

For the wrap-up session, the music students used slightly different instrumentation by adding a violin to their mix. The difference in the console setup was adjusting the audio to varying, higher and lower, sampling rates. The problem of the one-half beat delay was determined to be that the audio buffer was too large and took too long to fill before it would move on in the audio processing.

The consoles used the latest in the freely distributed Access Grid video conferencing package, Access Grid 3. Most of Access Grid 3 can be adjusted – many factors can be changed – but as it turned out, not the size of the audio buffer. The musicians again found that there was an unacceptable delay.

The overall conclusions were that for future work the entire end-to-end configuration will have to be controlled in every way, no matter how small. This will mean starting with components one-by-one and using no pre configured packages.

“This is an active international research area. People are working on it all over the world,” says Steve Simmons, PhD, Director of CNCACS. “There have been some demonstrated successes, so it’s known that this can be done. The problem is too difficult for a turn-key system to be produced any time soon. Moreover, most examples that have been demonstrated are very special and use a custom configured, wide area network (WAN). Our goal is to distribute the music, in a routine way, over a metropolitan area network (MAN). Such an ambitious project is difficult to carry out, but we think it doable. It won’t happen quickly.”

Billie Moreland
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