Musicians perform in perfect harmony across 2.700km Network Link

High speed European research networks and advanced software underpin international violin performance

Musicians have successfully publically played together in real-time, despite being located 2700km away from each other. Using advanced multimedia software to reduce latency delays and powerful GARR, RedIRIS and GÉANT research networks, violinists performed Bela Bartok Suites for 2 violins while located at both the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini in Trieste.
The performance, part of the TERENA Network Performing Arts Production Workshop, was made possible by the Low Latency (LOLA) project, developed by the Conservatorio di Musica Tartini, Trieste, and the Italian research and education network GARR. It uses completely re-written audio and video transmission software to reduce latency and jitter, sending pictures and sound in real-time to give the impression to both performers and the audience that all musicians are in the same venue. The aim of the project is to enable greater musical collaboration and save valuable time and cost when bringing together musicians to rehearse and play together.
Achieving this level of performance requires high speed, reliable and very stable networks providing guaranteed bandwidth of up to 500 Mbps. The public Internet cannot deliver this level of quality, introducing significant latency into the process – disastrous for successful performances. These demanding requirements can currently only be met by using research networks, such as GARR in Italy, RedIRIS in Spain and the pan-European GÉANT network, which links the two together.
“As musicians we want to collaborate with our colleagues wherever they are located and were frustrated that the Internet couldn’t provide the level of performance that we needed. The LOLA project is very exciting as it combines specially optimised software with high speed, robust, end-to-end networks to enable us to work together in real-time – it feels like everyone is in the same studio for both musicians and the audience,” said Massimo Parovel, director, Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini, Trieste. “The success of our violin performance between Barcelona and Trieste shows the limitless potential for musical collaboration which LOLA brings to the world of performing arts. Working with GARR and GÉANT has been vital in achieving our vision now and moving forward.”
The 10 minute concert featured Sebastiano Frattini and Laura Agostinelli. The two sites were connected using an end-to-end link that used the Conservatorio Tartini LAN, the Trieste Lightnet Metropolitan Optical Network, the GARR backbone, GÉANT, the Spanish RedIRIS research network backbone, the AnellaCientífica network, managed by the Centre de Supercomputació de Catalunya (CESCA) in Barcelona, and the Gran Teatre del Liceu link to Anella Científica. The performance was routed via Madrid and to provide these links all the research networks involved worked closely together to create a reliable connection to ensure a seamless performance.
“The success of the LOLA project demonstrates the positive effect technology can have on international collaboration – whether in the arts or the sciences,” said Matthew Scott, General Manager of DANTE, the organisation which on behalf of Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) has built and operates the GÉANT network. “The combination of advanced software and high speed research networks provides the perfect platform to allow those separated by distance to work together. In this case LOLA helps musicians collaborate effectively, meeting a pressing need, while demonstrating the potential to be extended to many other applications and areas.”
Following the success of the Barcelona performance, LOLA has ambitious plans for musicians in multiple locations to perform together as a virtual music group in the autumn of 2011, demonstrating the potential of LOLA to help musical collaboration.
The technology behind LOLA has applications far beyond music, and is already being used at Stanford University in the US as part of studies into human perceptions of latency. Other performing arts which can benefit from real-time collaboration, such as dance and theatre, can also use the software. In the field of medicine, LOLA could enable surgery to be carried out remotely in real-time by experts hundreds of miles away as well as enabling the teaching of new techniques across Europe.