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Last Sunday, we made radio history together with Wisconsin Public Radio and Open Goldberg. On June 24, 2012, WPR broadcast the entire Goldberg Variations recording made by Kimiko Ishizaka. At the same time, technologies for score following provided by MuseScore and SampleSumo were used to broadcast the score of the Goldbergs to anyone who was watching via a browser. The radio audience was instructed to visit opengoldberg.wpr.org, choose their radio station, and then watch the measures get highlighted in synchronicity with the broadcast of the radio.

So how did all of this work? Robert Douglass, director of the Open Goldberg Variations project, explains it very nicely while being interviewed for The Midday on WPR.


 

On the technology side of this experiment with WPR, we started working on the idea of score following during Music Hack Day New York in 2011 using our own MuseScore.com API. The rules of the hack day state that you get just 24 hours to hack up your prototype. Needless to say this wasn’t enough time to get the hack running as it’s supposed to do. It took us two more hack days, a few months later in Barcelona at Sonar and finally earlier this year in Cannes at midem, before we had a stable and working solution. Below is a drawing of how the solution works:

Distributed score following

and here’s the video of me explaining it at midem (from 3 min 55s):

Along the way, we also brought in the help of music technology company SampleSumo from Belgium. It is SampleSumo’s music following technology which does the listening and analysing of the audio and defines the exact spot in the score where the performer is playing. In the particular case of the WPR experiment, after connecting with the MuseScore server, listeners were served the digital score of the Goldberg Variations and saw the measures in the score being highlighted as the performance progressed.

It has to be said, while the score following worked perfect for listeners who tuned in via FM radio, the online listeners reported the score was lagging behind. This was in particular the case for listeners from overseas and it was caused by the network latency and/or the radio player buffer time. We already have some ideas how to improve this for a next time.

Here are some pictures from Robert in the WPR studio with the new MuseScore edition of the Goldberg Variations on his computer.

Robert Douglass looking at the MuseScore edition of the Goldberg Variations Robert Douglass at the WPR studio

Thanks a lot to Robert Douglass, Matthew Tift and all the WPR people involved for making this happen!

If you missed the opportunity to hear on the radio and watch online the new public domain arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, you can still:

Download the recording and the score for free
Download the free Open Goldberg app for iPad
Follow @OpenGoldberg and @WPR on Twitter
Like Open Goldberg Variations on Facebook

 

This post was originally published on Musescore’s blog, here.



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