Together with 11 musicians from Austria, Spain, the Netherlands and Belarus, I designed the musical framework for the International Online Convention of a software producer at the end of 2020. The motto of the conference was “Fly me to the moon”, aiming to observe the current dramatic changes from a distance and understand them better.
Corona is a strict conductor who turns the usual face-to-face orchestra into a remote team. Using the example of the jazz classic “Fly me to the moon”, we showed what is important now: clear processes and a high level of personal responsibility for everyone involved.
Niels started the groove in Amsterdam. Then the ensembles in Vienna, Barcelona and Minsk recorded their parts, which required high accuracy regarding pitch, tempo and recording technology. During recording, the musicians only heard the parts recorded before and their own playing, but not the usual overall sound in a joint room because playing together at the same time is de facto impossible on the internet.
Why is that? The length of the transmission delay is different in different places. When a conductor in Vienna cues the musicians, this cue arrives, for example, in Amsterdam with a 0.5 second delay and in Barcelona with a 0.7 second delay. The re-transmission of the played tones is also delayed, which means that the conductor hears the tone from Amsterdam after one second, but the one from Barcelona only after 1.4 seconds. Furthermore, the musicians hear each other with different delays and react at different rates. So, there is complete shambles after three bars at the latest. Several IT experts told me independently that this problem will probably not be solved by a comprehensive 5G network.
This means that we now play music serially. We have the great chance to internationally connect musicians and form new online ensembles. They do not need a classical conductor but a project manager with an accurate ear and digital expertise. The musicians on site mostly guide themselves, record their parts and submit their results to the project manager, who creates the complete product. The decisive success factors are reliable people who work autonomously, a joint understanding of the piece and precise project management.