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Open Orchestra
Project Overview

Detailed Description
Principal Researchers
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Technology Demonstrations
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Open Orchestra – The Immersive Experience of Playing in an Orchestra

The orchestral training of professional and semi-professional musicians and vocalists requires expensive resources that are not always available when and where they are needed even if the funding for them were made available. What is needed is the musical equivalent of an aircraft simulator that gives the musician or vocalist the very realistic experience of playing or singing with an orchestra. The purpose of making this experience available through a next generation network-enabled platform is to provide the extensive tools and resources necessary at very low cost and wherever there is access to a high speed internet network such as CANARIE’s.

Video recordings of orchestral and ensemble musical works will be kept in an on-line database. The student will be able to substitute him/herself for a member of the orchestra or ensemble and have his/her performance replace that of the selected musician or vocalist. The student will see the conductor and relevant part of the orchestra on a panoramic display as the selected musician or vocalist would and will hear the orchestra with that performance removed. The student will also have a music stand display of the musical score and system controls.

After recording themselves, the students will be able to play back their own performances with the full orchestra, by itself, or together with the selected performance that was removed. The score will be displayed synchronized with the audio. Then the student will use a suite of on-screen signal analysis tools that will compare the student's performance to that of the removed musician or vocalist. The system will assess rudimentary performance parameters such as fundamental frequency, dynamics (level), and start/time/duration of each note performed by the student and compare them with the reference notes of the master recording. The errors and differences will be noted on the score and the students can add their own comments as written text or audio. This score can be saved in the database together with the audio recording for optional later review by an instructor. The instructor can in turn provide feedback by adding written comments and/or audio. Audio allows the student and/or instructor to play the instrument as well as speak. The instructor can also make use of previous recordings to track progress.

There will be two modes of operation. Professional mode will provide an immersive experience with panoramic video using four displays and surround 5.1 channel audio. Simplified mode will provide a less immersive experience using one or two displays and two channel audio to enable amateur musicians to benefit from the platform at home even if they do not have access to a high speed network. As fibre-to-the-home becomes increasingly available, they will be able to upgrade their experience.

This dramatic and involving use of next generation technologies implemented through service-oriented-architecture (SOA)-based software interfaces will highlight and strengthen the CANARIE network’s position as a recognized world leader in the development and use of advanced research networks. The project will also develop the new techniques necessary to capture the orchestral experience both visually and aurally and store these very complex recordings in a central database that would be far too expensive to replicate locally. The participation of the music schools at McGill, the University of British Columbia, the Banff Centre and Humber College plus the National Youth Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra ensures that the project will be user-driven. These users will provide ongoing formal evaluation to make sure the project meets its objectives and serve an important dissemination role in expanding use of the platform, once it is fully implemented, to their colleagues in the many music schools and youth orchestras worldwide.