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Synchronising musicians across the globe - Spacetime Concerto
24 July, 2014

Synchronising musicians across the globe

The University of Newcastle's Space Time Concerto research project used AARNet's reliable high-bandwidth capacity and global reach to push performance boundaries.

This project demonstrates AARNet’s commitment to the advancement of network-enabled art forms.

AARNet supports global collaborations and research initiatives in the performing arts that require the reliable high-bandwidth capacity and global reach of a research network.

The University of Newcastle’s International SpaceTime Concerto competition was a research initiative that pushed performance boundaries and celebrated the historical form of the concerto as well as contemporary interpretations of musical styles.

“Around the World in 80 Milliseconds” was the first concert in the International Space Time Concerto Competition Concert Series. Performers in five global locations simultaneously created one extraordinary event. The Newcastle Conservatorium (Australia) connected with Ars Electronica and Bruckner University (Austria), the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (Singapore) and Central Conservatory of Music (China) live in real time. The concert was broadcast live to the world.

Synchronising musicians located in five different countries for one live performance

The project's goal was to stage a showcase international concert located at five different locations with six audiences, manage latency and synchronise the performances.

All sites involved connected to AARNet’s Video Conferencing Service via high definition video codecs, in parallel with very low latency audio processing software running over the AARNet network and other research and education networks worldwide, utilising predominantly IPv6 technologies.

This enabled the use of a master conductor in Linz, France and a subconductor at each location who conducted from the video of the main conductor in Linz. The result was a synchronised performance at each location at the same time all media was delayed from the master hub Newcastle.

AARNet’s involvement was critical in the IPv6 design and implementation as well as its provision of a network that could handle the dynamics required to fashion a platform for this style of creative pursuit.

This performance was particularly significant as the researchers chose Giovanni Gabrielli's 'In Ecclesius' written in 1595 to celebrate the multiple spaces within Saint Mark's Cathedral in Venice. The version for this project celebrated multiple spaces around the world all of which were in a different time zone with different latency. The result was a global performance of 'In Ecclesius" that sounded as if all performers were in the same space.

Leveraging the capabilities of AARNet to push boundaries

This event capitalised on the network AARNet has created by allowing talented musicians to push the boundaries of what is possible, because the latency, as small as it is, had to be learned by the composers and worked into the very fabric of their music.

Over all it was an amazing showcase of international cooperation, communication and knowledge sharing. It shows the potential for future creative works and teaching methodologies.

The project also raises many questions including: Can you engage an audience with a Networked Music Performance? How do audiences interact with a screen? Will audiences take technology seriously in traditional music performance? What can a networked music performance achieve that can’t be done with a traditional live performance?

In so many ways this is a ground-breaking competition. It turns the traditional concerto competition format on its head and develops a novel solution to latency with the use of multiple conductors.”

University of newcastle quote
Richard Vella

Chair of Music at the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music