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Videoconferencing latency delays add twist to orchestra contest

First concert to be broadcast tonight at 7:30 p.m. AEST.

AARNet videoconferencing will power a world music competition tonight with orchestras in Australia, Asia and Europe.

The International Space/Time Concerto is hosted by the University of Newcastle and spans five countries: Australia, China, Austria, Singapore and New Zealand. The first concert will be broadcast tonight at 7:30 pm AEST, while a second concert is to be streamed live on 2 December.

In an IT networking twist, the musicians will have to take latency delays into account to keep together while playing.

“With the performers playing simultaneously around the globe, the sound will reach and overlap sounds from all other sites with differing delays,” said project director, Tracy Redhead.

“Composing a work that is complementary in each location is an exciting challenge for musicians,” Redhead said. “In some works audiences in each location will be able to appreciate the compositions in their own unique way. In other words, the audience won’t notice any delay due to the way the Space Time telematic team has approached the latency problem.”

All the sites will connect to AARNet’s national video conferencing service with HD video codecs and low-latency audio processing software running on the AARNet network and other research and education networks. The system runs mostly on IPv6 networking technology.

“In so many ways this is a ground-breaking competition,” said Professor Richard Vella, chair of music at the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music. “It turns the traditional concerto competition format on its head and develops a novel solution to latency with the use of multiple conductors.”

AARNet previously provided videoconferencing for a world dance-off between Australia and South Korea. Photos of that event can be viewed here.

AARNet is “committed to the advancement of network-enabled art forms,” said AARNet CEO Chris Hancock. “This event capitalises on the network AARNet has created. It will allow these talented musicians to push the boundaries of what is possible, because the latency, as small as it is, has had to be learned by the composers and worked into the very fabric of their music.”

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More about: AARNet, University of Newcastle, University of Newcastle
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