Interactive music and the public internet; why milliseconds matter

David Lake

Issue Two | Page 67 | October 2021

Abstract

Choral singing has been very heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing many groups to only be able to meet "on-line." Experience has shown this to be less-than optimal, leading to a high level of dissatisfaction with the technology. Yet we are constantly told that the Internet gives us the ability to carry-on our normal lives when we can't meet in-person. Many of us suspect this is not true. To understand why the Internet as it is built today cannot deliver a musical ensemble experience, it is important to understand the requirements of good musical interactions and some of the details, both historical and technical of how the Internet has developed. Whilst by nature this is in places complex, technical details and the historical context is important, and this paper seeks to provide an audience-appropriate precis of these areas. To illustrate the issues and explain the impact on singing, an experiment measuring a typical "Zoom" based session as many choirs have been forced to rely on is carried out and documented.

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