[Stremes-l] Simply Jamming

Randall Packer rpacker at zakros.com
Fri Dec 4 06:56:25 MST 2015

Ethan, thanks for the illuminating description and illustrations of your techniques for online musical performance. I have a question about fluctuation in latency. I assume, the latency must change slightly over time. I can see how live musicians can compensate for this fluctuation, but how do you keep computer-generated sounds that are tied to a strict bpm in sync? Do you have a way within Max or some other means to compensate for changing latency? 


From:  Ethan Cayko <ecayko at gmail.com>
Date:  Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 8:29 PM
To:  Randall Packer <rpacker at zakros.com>, <stremes-L at mailman.ucalgary.ca>
Subject:  Re: [Stremes-l] Simply Jamming

Hello Randall and all,

As Ken mentioned earlier I am a graduate student in Music at the University of Calgary and I've just begun work on my thesis (pending its approval when I propose it next week). I am most interested in using the latency as a rhythmic device. 

For instance, 250 milliseconds is an eighth note at 120 bpm. If the network delay is 175 ms, just add 75ms of delay to the audio and boom, you can play at 120 bpm (or 180 bpm for some fun duple triple relationships). The tempo and rhythmic unit of your choosing can be adjusted by the user so you're not stuck playing at the tempo that the native network delay provides. The result of this is music that when played in unison at one node, sounds like a tight canon or stretto at the other node. An extension of this is in adding more nodes all related to each other by a rhythmic unit, but not the SAME rhythmic unit. For instance, if Node1 is related to Node2 by a quarter note and to Node3 by a dotted quarter note and Node2 is related to Node3 by an eighth note, it creates a rhythmic topology wherein music heard at each node is different and interrelated in fascinating ways. 

What this seemed to remind me of is the metrical ambiguity of the Ewe and of Steve Reich's music. Also, looping or repetitive phrases are important when playing in this context because it helps players to really sink into the tempo and internalize the pulse. I wrote some exercises and a piece for woodblocks last year as a sort of proof of concept that was performed between Calgary and Beijing (on a bit of a jittery day) and then again between Calgary and Bozeman, MT (this one went much smoother but then again it's only 500mi, that's easy!).

I have attached a couple diagrams I made up last night to help illustrate how this all works. Let me know if it makes sense in relation to my description above. I should mention, this is done with a Max/MSP patch and the Pulse Loopback Measurement is a channel of audio that is set aside to constantly measure the native network delay. It sends a click to the opposite node, which is routed straight back and the time it took tells max how much the Transmission Delay is, it can then add the appropriate Compensatory delay to lock it in as an eighth note.

Hopefully I didn't bore you all, I could go on for days about this stuff. 

Thanks for listening,

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:47 PM Randall Packer <rpacker at zakros.com> wrote:
Ken, I love the idea of the network as a free and open and immediate space for musical improvisation. Of course I would say that the fluidity and creativity of your musical experience is possible because you have spent years refining the system, developing the techniques, and you clearly have solid collaborators. So bravo for making the network a quality social and artistic space for you and your colleagues.

I am interested in knowing who else is on this list, and perhaps everyone can introduce themselves, and their ideas regarding networked performance. I suspect that everyone has a very different approach, objectives, and artistic rationale for engaging in performance in the networked third space. It would be fascinating to know how and why artists are reaching beyond the physical parameters of their local artistic and social space to create new work and experiences that dissolve geographical boundaries as well as engage new audiences.

Best, Randall

On 12/2/15, 9:30 PM, "Kenneth Fields" <stremes-l-bounces at mailman.ucalgary.ca on behalf of kfields at ucalgary.ca> wrote:

>I (in Beijing) had a great Jam with Ethan Cayko at the university of calgary
>yesterday. His master’s degree is concerned with rhythmic complexities/opportunities
>of network music.
>We tested the network for a bit, found some problems and ‘tuned’ our jacktrip connection.
>There was a 215ms delay, which we determined amounted to about 140bps.
>however, when I started jacktrip in loop mode and Ethan played with the echo,
>we found the actual beat (ricochet) to be around 127bpm. Seems reasonable since
>a bit more delay is introduced by the software, hardware and actual-air in both studios.
>Then we started jamming. It was a pleasure, just to sync into our particular
>beat profile based on our distance. The interesting part, is that we are hearing
>two different pieces - as I play off his beat and he plays off mine. We are, relatively
>speaking, mutually one beat offset from each other's history.
>We aim to add a third node, which will have its own unique delay time with each of us.
>So with the addition of just one node, ethan will be playing in a complex rhythmic
>mode and I will playing in another. While we will be hearing 3 different pieces as a result,
>it will still be a unique composite - given the coupling/triangulating. We are playing
>simply and looking for emerging genre in this.
>The main point in this for me, was that there was no intention but to jam.
>No theory, no crash rehearsal just before a performance. This is the way to develop a project.
>When the music gets going, we can just open up the session, and start broadcasting to youtube.
>Let the practice grow from a grounded, experiential reality.
>We both commented afterwards, that we had been trying to get to that point
>for a long time (years) - given all the complexities of (yes) organizing bandwidth,
>developing software, getting comfortable with the ‘multi-chronotopical space,’
>starting courses and grad programs, writing grants, etc. Just play!
>And it coincides with the impetus to get this list going.
>AND I’m reading Bergson’s Creative Mind (intuition/time)….
>Hmm, must be time.
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