Interview: New Zealand digital music system brings harmony between nations
WELLINGTON, Dec 04, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
The next time you see a concert
performed live, the musicians might be scattered around the world
playing to a futuristic disc-shaped score that you can watch and
hear through your broadband connection.
That's the vision of Associate Professor Ian Whalley, of New
Zealand's Waikato University, who played from the university's
campus in Hamilton for the Musicacoustica12 telemusic concert
festival in Beijing in October.
Whalley was accompanied in real time by another musician who
was reading the same score from a screen in the Chinese capital.
The performance was the premiere of the university's Graphic
Network Music Interactive Scoring System (GNMISS), which is
coupled with the use of the Internet2 advanced technology research
network and the Internet protocol version 6 (Ipv6) format to allow
high-definition multi-channel and multi-directional digital video
The score is arranged in a circle which uses a metronome system
to give cues to musicians in different countries, overcoming the
problem of the time lag incurred by performing from a traditional
"The score moves in real time so you can see where your entry
and exit points are. It solves the timing problem caused by the
distance between the performers," Whalley told Xinhua in a phone
"We have a synchronous dialogue in real time."
The clock-like disc is based on three layers linking emotions
to color, sounds to motifs and symbols to musical gestures, which
makes the performance much more visually interesting for the
audience, who can be in the presence of part of the performance or
following on-line, he said.
"The audience can see the relationship between the score and
the parts -- it's more involving for an audience."
But as well as opening up a world of trans-national
performances for music lovers, GNMISS will also enable musicians
in different countries to compose together in real time.
Unlike a traditional "linear" score, which is written on paper
and then arranged so that individual performers can see their
parts, GNMISS allows the musicians to make changes and corrections
as they arise.
Whalley said it was like comparing e-mail correspondence to a
Skype video call. "It's like a hyper-telephone system with visual.
Although the full system was still only possible on high-speed,
high-definition research networks, parts of it were becoming
generally available as broadband speeds accelerated and the
scoring system already worked independently of the Internet, said
The next step would refine and extend the range of notational
gestures to represent sounds and actions and enable coordination
that might one day result in entertainments such as "interactive
Whalley admitted that at least part of each GNMISS performance
was a live broadcast, but he rejected the idea that the best
musical experience might still be off-line as part of a physical
"People spend half their lives going to virtual things that don
't exist -- people have been going to the movies since 1911."
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