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telematic music
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:13 pm    Post subject: telematic music
Subject description: composing for collaborative performance over the Internet
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Hi, all, I did a search for "telematic" and it doesn't show up at all on the forum, so here goes . . .

According to Latency: Music Composition and Technology Solutions for Perception of Synchrony in ResoNations 2010: An International Telematic Music Concert for Peace, The Master of Music in Music Technology thesis of New York composer and conductor Sarah Weaver,
Quote:
Telematic music is live performance via high-bandwidth internet by performers in different geographic locations. Latency is a fundamental aspect of telematic music technology as its threshold is key in creating perception of synchrony. Synchrony in this study is defined as perception of simultaneity of distributed temporal components. Without this perception the
music can become another format of distance collaboration such as network music or distributed music, but it would not be specifically telematic. Telepresence is another closely related term that indicates synchrony though does not specifically refer to the internet. Synchronous performance-quality audio via the internet validates telematic music as an artistic medium.


The Washing Machines would definitely qualify as telematic music making Cool

Sarah's thesis is well worth a read for her technical and compositional perspectives. She and I had a little discussion via email, thought I'd repeat a few of my ideas on *telematic canons" below.

From an email to Sarah:

The reason I am writing is that I thought that you or a colleague might be interested in the idea of a telematic canon . . .

In a canon that repeats at a relatively coarse-grained temporal interval, exact Internet latency is not so much an impediment. The goal is for a player in the here&now to play in synchronization with the canon's cyclic "measure" (I don't know the precise term for a canon's phrase-temporal-interval) from some point in the past -- one "measure" ago, or two "measures" ago, etc., wherever latency the piece has gotten to when it arrives back at this particular player.

From a technical implementation perspective this shouldn't be too hard. It would be necessary to add "canon-metronome-markers" to the audio data stream. Existing audio streaming protocols could be extended to add a few periodic bits identifying where to place the metronomes, which could be inserted by a codec downstream from audio-to-bit encoding, and stripped off before conventional bit-to-audio decoding. Players could turn the metronome sounding on or off as they like.

The real utility of the metronome tags would be for remote mixing. All streams come into a server, get buffered until their metronome markers aligned, mixed, and streamed back out as a broadcast. All players play against the incoming, mixed stream, with each individual player's audio stream going to the mixer. You can even imagine that different players do different on-line mixes. You could do an on-line version of whisper-down-the-lane, where player B mixes with player's A remote playing, passing that mix on to C, etc. No need for a broadcast server. Central-server-based mixing would probably be more popular and certainly more like a conventional ensemble, but it's not the only option.

I think that this avoids the need for Internet2 and static IP. The repetitive, coarse-temporal-grain nature of the canon works within the means of lower tech networking.

The aesthetic that I like about this is that every player experiences a slightly different version of the piece, since each player experiences her/his own present interleaved with other players' pasts. The whisper-down-the-lane is an extreme version. In fact, if we all really could start at the exact same moment, we really would be playing rounds with each of us being the dux for everyone else's comes Smile

One other point relating to precise real-time synchronization at a global level is that Global Position System could provide it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System :

"The very accurately computed time is effectively hidden by most GPS applications, which use only the location. A few specialized GPS applications do however use the time; these include time transfer, traffic signal timing, and synchronization of cell phone base stations."

I started looking into this for musical rounds a year or so ago until I found that most GPS device drivers have unspecified latency, making the timing information in the signals useless for this application. They essentially throw away the accurate timing, reporting only accurate location data back through the driver to any applications. That fact forced me to realize that I didn't really need accurate global time, only a metronome carried on a conceptual subcarrier of the digital audio signal in order to play distributed rounds. There is nothing much in the way of developing low-latency GPS device drivers, except that there's not much commercial demand right now.

One other thought on the topic of your thesis: Since video takes so much more bandwidth than audio, and had sync problems in the performances, it seems advisable to develop a gesture protocol, and piggy-back packets of gestures on the "metronome subcarrier." 256 distinct gestures, for example, would require only 8 bits to encode. They could be stripped off and animated as part of the process of stripping off the metronome subcarrier.

Hope this makes sense. Feel free to ask any questions. I haven't implemented any of this because I already have too many irons in the fire, but I'd be more than happy to collaborate.

Again, nice work on the thesis and your compositions.

Dale Parson, Ph.D., Computer Science, Kutztown University of PA
http://faculty.kutztown.edu/parson/music/

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MusicMan11712



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Having participated in a number of latency jams, I have some thoughts about this process. To me, the beauty of the latency jam is that musicians have to make contributions to the jam attending to what MIGHT fit in with what others played, where the music is when listened to (in each contributor's locale) and the direction the jam seems to be going, with constant modifications along the way in response to what is heard in each contributor's locale. I think it takes great on-the-fly compositional/performance talents to make contributions to the jam and to adapt to the simultaneous past/present/future orientation of the work-in-progress.

I would suggest that rather than a canon as described, such a structured performance could have some sort of lead/melody that is played at the start of each of several timed periods (say 6 minute intervals), with a daisy chain linking of performers, with interpretive renderings after the score has been performed, until the arrival of the next section.

I suppose it could be done as a sort of a round: Person A plays the start of the score; after hearing the start, person B waits 2 measures and joins in from the beginning; after hearing person B start, person C waits 2 measures and joins in the beginning, etc. with each evolving into improv on the first theme, until the agreed upon time period ends for section 1.

Person A can then start section 2, etc. etc. (I am not sure GPS fits in.)

Anyhow, these are interesting thoughts.

Steve
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Good observations, Dr. Steve.

MusicMan11712 wrote:
I think it takes great on-the-fly compositional/performance talents to make contributions to the jam and to adapt to the simultaneous past/present/future orientation of the work-in-progress.

The effect is very much one of a superposition of pieces, I think. Not one piece, but a weaving of pieces in time.

Quote:
I would suggest that rather than a canon as described, such a structured performance could have some sort of lead/melody that is played at the start of each of several timed periods (say 6 minute intervals), with a daisy chain linking of performers, with interpretive renderings after the score has been performed, until the arrival of the next section.

The daisy chaining was roughly the intent of the "whisper down the lane" model, which was inspired in turn by the Washing Machines approach as I understand it.
Quote:
I suppose it could be done as a sort of a round: Person A plays the start of the score; after hearing the start, person B waits 2 measures and joins in from the beginning; after hearing person B start, person C waits 2 measures and joins in the beginning, etc. with each evolving into improv on the first theme, until the agreed upon time period ends for section 1.

Person A can then start section 2, etc. etc.


There are numerous varieties of canon.
wikipedia on canons wrote:
Canons are classified by various traits: the number of voices, the interval at which each successive voice is transposed in relation to the preceding voice, whether voices are inverse, retrograde, or retrograde-inverse; the temporal distance between each voice, whether the intervals of the second voice are exactly those of the original or if they are adjusted to fit the diatonic scale, and the tempo of successive voices. However, canons may use more than one of the above methods.

I think that your suggestions qualify as canons.

Quote:
(I am not sure GPS fits in.)

GPS is a tangent. It was something that I looked into a couple of years ago as a means of distributed performance sync in actual real time. It is feasible, although would required lower-latency device drivers, and is far from necessary.

Quote:
Anyhow, these are interesting thoughts.


Indeed xxsun

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very cool! Very Happy

I've toyed with the idea in the past of making some kind of software that would enable telematic music that would stay synchronized with a resolution of one or more bars.

Everyone participant would send time-coded audio streams to a server, that would put a delay on each stream so that they became synchronized, and then stream the mix of that out. You would be lagging one bar behind when listening. Possibly you could add some feature (though I'm unsure how) that could filter each participant out from his own stream.

One concern might be that the audio timing drifts, so that it is perceived as staying in sync for a while, but as minute timing differences in the streams build up they drift noticeably apart, like what you get with S/PDIF stuff. Perhaps this isn't an issue.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Antimon wrote:
Possibly you could add some feature (though I'm unsure how) that could filter each participant out from his own stream.

Seems like this would require not mixing the streams at a server, but rather just streaming them separately, and mixing desired streams (according to sync alignment field) at each of the listeners.

Quote:
One concern might be that the audio timing drifts, so that it is perceived as staying in sync for a while, but as minute timing differences in the streams build up they drift noticeably apart, like what you get with S/PDIF stuff. Perhaps this isn't an issue.

I don't think any drift would be cumulative.

Assuming 16 bits per audio sample at whatever rate, it would be possible to steal every Nth sample slot and turn it into sync information about the upcoming sample in the stream that is actually the sync point.

If you were streaming via ICY, you could take the sample stream and insert the "digital metronome" sync data between Nth-1 and Nth samples before streaming it. You'd want the data-type tag to be ICY+METRONOME or something so that the receiver would know to detect and strip off the sync fields before rendering the audio. The signal flow looks something like this:

digital audio -> +sync -> stream -> XMTR -> RCVR -> -sync -> render

Transmission with the audio data stream would be necessary to keep them in sync. Giving it its own protocol name ensures that the appropriate codecs that know about the additional sync data would be used by the transmitters & receivers. The last problem is finding the incoming sync data in the face of possibility of lost packets. Seems to me you'd have to have a preamble, let's say a 16-bit word of all ones, that announces that the next 16-bit word is sync information. Now we are using 2 samples worth of words per sync field, one as the all-1's preamble that announces the presence of the sync data in the next word. You also lose the ability to have a sample with all ones in the audio stream, or perhaps two all-1's fields in a row denote 1 sample of all 1's. Just plain old escape sequences.

The decoder would thus be able to re-sync with the stream after packet dropping occurs. I don't see how drift would be cumulative.

The sync time boundary could optionally be used to sound or flash a metronome for a performer, and with 16 bits there's room to carry virtual gestures for conducting. You'd also have to transmit the intended tempo of the sync points.

There may be a better way to do this. It has the advantage of piggy backing on top of existing audio stream protocols as a small extension, without wasting much bandwidth (assuming that the sync fields are spaced relatively far apart in time when compared to the sampling rate). Unlike subcarriers in radio, receivers wouldn't be able to remain ignorant of the protocol extension and just treat it as audio. They'd get noise when treating the sync fields as audio samples. You could have a server stream out a conventional audio stream in addition to the sync-tagged stream(s), for use by passive listeners.

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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sync is so overrated Laughing

Anyway, in the "washing machines" there is more latency (typically 45 s but changing over time), and one of the charms of it for me is the unpredictability resulting.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

All musical performance is "telematic"; it's just that in performance in one room, the time-independence of the musicians is not perceivable.
We tend to believe that events with latencies of microseconds, or a few milliseconds, are non-existent.

Latency jams help us get a better feel for there being no such thing as absolute time. Synchronicity is a perceptual illusion. One great thing about latency jams is that the delays are different for each participant. This is only a problem if you live in a Newtonian universe, not in Einstein's.

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[Q]



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A Ninjam server may be usefull...

http://www.cockos.com/ninjam/
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

[Q] wrote:
A Ninjam server may be usefull...

http://www.cockos.com/ninjam/


ok, downloaded it, it compiled and I made a config for it - will try to bring it up later.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
[Q] wrote:
A Ninjam server may be usefull...

http://www.cockos.com/ninjam/


ok, downloaded it, it compiled and I made a config for it - will try to bring it up later.

There is a discussion of Ninjam and related topics over here.
Jeremy and I tried it out in November, 2008 when he was living in New Mexico and I in Pennsylvania. It was a little disappointing to us, but it is likely worth further investigation. I doubt that we plumbed its depth.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with un-synced on-line jams. I just think it would be a cool, in addition, to have a way to insert a periodic sync field, so that a server could align the streams on a temporal boundary at an agreed-upon tempo, so you could play canons, including server-based canons and daisy-chained canons as Dr Steve suggests (the Whisper Down the Lane model). The technology is a small delta to existing an existing protocol such as ICY, and it enables new things to happen. Idea

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:05 am    Post subject: Re: telematic music
Subject description: composing for collaborative performance over the Internet
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Acoustic Interloper wrote:
Hi, all, I did a search for "telematic" and it doesn't show up at all on the forum, so here goes . . .

Quick footnote: I did a search and found a Wikipedia entry for Telematics. It seems that the pluralized form comes from combining TELEcommunication and inforMATICS. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telematics .) I will have to take another look at the thesis to see if this is what the author means. I didn't get that the first time in my preliminary read through.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: telematic music
Subject description: composing for collaborative performance over the Internet
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MusicMan11712 wrote:
Acoustic Interloper wrote:
Hi, all, I did a search for "telematic" and it doesn't show up at all on the forum, so here goes . . .

Quick footnote: I did a search and found a Wikipedia entry for Telematics. It seems that the pluralized form comes from combining TELEcommunication and inforMATICS. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telematics .) I will have to take another look at the thesis to see if this is what the author means. I didn't get that the first time in my preliminary read through.

Maybe it's this definition.
Quote:
The technology of sending, receiving and storing information via telecommunication devices in conjunction with affecting control on remote objects.

With the "remote objects" being musicians and their instruments. Shocked Or, maybe the musicians have appropriated the term Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here's a journal issue on telematic music. It looks like you need a subscription, and the term appears to have been around for a while.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Acoustic Interloper wrote:
Here's a journal issue on telematic music. It looks like you need a subscription, and the term appears to have been around for a while.

I saw that and was going to read it. Doesn't your university have access to journals like that? Next year my son is scheduled to go to RPI, so maybe he will have access to it.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

MusicMan11712 wrote:
Acoustic Interloper wrote:
Here's a journal issue on telematic music. It looks like you need a subscription, and the term appears to have been around for a while.

I saw that and was going to read it. Doesn't your university have access to journals like that? Next year my son is scheduled to go to RPI, so maybe he will have access to it.

I'll take a look. I won't be able to post any copyrighted material, but someone doing research with me could certainly get a PM'd copy. Wink

Also, it's not unusual for authors to re-post their own papers publicly, at least after a delay. I always do. I'll let you know what I find.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Acoustic Interloper wrote:
However, after more search I found the telematic music supplement here.

These essays are excellent, from a nice variety of historical, aesthetic, technical and personal perspectives. I had some quotes all ready, but it looks like my attempt to post them here timed out. There are worth finding in the above six essays.

A distributed telematic collab at an EM event would be worth preparing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:54 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: Net-Music 2013: The Internet as Creative Resource in Music
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There is an on-line symposium about this topic on 16-17 January 2013.
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