[From the 5/30/06 SFCV.org]
Some six years ago, Classical Voice reported on the use of Internet2 by
Michael Tilson Thomas' other orchestra, the New World Symphony in Miami.
Four years ago, a San Francisco Symphony press conference was held here,
MTT participating in a video conference from Miami through the ultra-high
speed Internet2. New World Symphony started using the technology for
widespread online performances and conferences, even teaching, coaching,
and - significantly for the listening community - in the marvelous
American Mavericks" program
Internet2 has a bandwidth (the speed at which information is transmitted)
about 200,000 times and speed 1,000 times greater than today's average
high-speed Internet service. The contrast with dial-up is staggering:
to download a DVD version of a movie on a dial-up 56K modem takes 171
hours, compared with a mere 30 seconds via Internet2.
Now, this week, "Newsweek"
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12875824/site/newsweek/) is catching up
with this phenomenon, reporting that "Miami's New World Symphony is
pioneering the use of Internet2 for performances across continents."
MTT's "orchestral academy" became the first music organization to join
the Internet2 consortium, and the long-range plan calls for integrating
the technology with the orchestra's new music lab and performance space,
to be completed in 2010. (Meanwhile, San Francisco Opera's David Gockley
is also creating a high-tech sound studio and distribution system in the
The new facility under construction in Miami is of profound significance
for music lovers everywhere. All the practice rooms will be wired for
Internet2. In the performance space, huge video screens will link the
audience with ensembles elsewhere. MTT is considering the idea of a
"distributed performance," in which he'd simultaneously conduct musicians
in different cities - San Francisco, his home city, is likely to be
involved when that comes to pass. Imagine a joint concert by several
orchestras in various locations, to be broadcast or telecast globally.
And yet, the importance of all this is not on an institutional, abstract
level; the topic here concerns how you will access music tomorrow and
the day after that. It's a picture both exciting and confusing with its
Classical Voice has asked a prominent local techology expert to
comment on the synergy of classical music and data distribution.
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO of Fremont's Dandin Group
(http://wired.com/wired/archive/10.01/hendricks.html, says "as a consumer
who's only seen the Internet via a telephone or cable company, you've
never really seen the true Internet that folks with universities and
Internet service providers, like myself, see on a day-to-day basis. As
a result, you have NO idea as to what can really be done/is being done
on the Internet, meaning today's Internet(1).
"Internet2 is a much more advanced version of Internet1, with a backbone
that carries 10 billions of bits per second (Gbps). [The capacity of 1
Gbps enables the transmission of a Mahler symphony in a few minutes.]
This low latency path allows the sorts of applications described in the
`Newsweek' article. Such applications could never occur in the pale
shadow of Internet you are now using. Internet2 is restricted to use
for R&D only, no commercial use is allowed. On a project that I'm working
on in New Mexico, we're going to allow folks there to have access to the
successor to Internet2, called the National Lambda Rail (http://www.nlr.net/),
with a backbone that runs at 400 Gbps."
Familiarity with multi-channel cable TV provides understanding of the
significance of a "bigger" Internet. Currently, the entire cable system
is digital, and all TV channels put together correspond to less than 1
Gbps - multiple amounts of which will be available with Internet2 on
With all the references to speed and capacity, Hendricks cautions against
"falling into the trap that this is about sending bits from one place
to another faster." MTT, Hendricks says, is surely not using Internet2
to send files faster, but because the new technology "will allow him to
create a different artistic experience, for himself, his colleagues and
his audience." Telemedicine is a good example. Improvement doesn't mean
a faster exchange of e-mail, but rather enabling surgery halfway around
the world - something already done over Internet2.
"In the NLR community," Hendricks adds, "we have a saying that goes,
'With 40 Gbps you have reality'. What that means is that with this sort
of bandwidth, you could create something like the Holodeck depicted on
'Star Trek'. Another big difference with NLR is that commercial use is
allowed, much like Internet1. The hope is that one day everybody will
have access to these types of networks, which can deliver amazing capacity
and bandwidth. Alas, with the duopoly that we have here in the U.S.,
this won't happen anytime soon.
"However, it's good to see people like MTT getting access to these
networks now and figuring out how to put them to good use in new and
interesting ways, providing a wide and fast distribution of music." The
technology Hendricks describes could mean experiencing music at home,
recorded or live, in a form, and with quality, almost indistinguishable
from being in the concert hall or opera house - except for the cost of
tickets, parking, babysitter... and the plusses and minuses of rubbing
elbows with a few thousand fellow music lovers.
If you are interested in the fantasy/reality future aspects of Internet
development, a current article
(http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=13100003DVDZ) will tell
you about combining 80 separate channels of 10 Gbps each, transmitted
over fiber-optic cable, to "produce a mind-boggling 800 Gbps of bandwidth."
As to the more immediate present, Music News received a note on
music-Internet synergy from Mike Richter, a former NASA scientist who
has been distributing (http://mrichter.com/) classical music without
charge on the Web longer than anyone else, in fact, ever since the end
of the last century. Richter is calling attention to music-distribution
technology apparently more advanced than YouTube.com we wrote about
earlier this month.
"We are becoming familiar with the wonders of the Internet," Richter
writes, "provided by such services as e-mail, the World Wide Web, File
Transfer Protocols, newsgroups, lists and related operations. The next
generation may be coming into view now and it is a combination of services
far more powerful than any one alone.
"One service newly available on the Internet is free or low-cost sharing
of large files. Several are online today each with its own advantages,
disadvantages and rules. One such is RapidShare (http://www.RapidShare.de/),
which accepts uploads as large as 100 Mb without charge. Once stored,
a URL is provided from which the file may be downloaded. Download is
delayed on a free account or expedited on a premium account costing less
than 10 euros per month. "Expedited" means not only avoiding the delays
but also a program to simplify up- and downloading. There is even a
point scheme repaying in premium time for downloads.
"With a service such as RapidShare, one can make a file accessible to
anyone to whom one sends the URL. Of course, for files as large as these
- 75 Mb for an audio CD compressed to "near-CD" quality - broadband is
a necessity. Still, with broadband on both ends one can 'share' a
treasure with one friend or a dozen or with a group. Valuable as that
may be in itself, see what happens when free file transfer is combined
with free groupings of Internet denizens with a common interest such as
"Now postulate that a group of those with a common interest is formed
under one of the free services, for example, those at Yahoo Groups.
Such a group is the classical music exchange OperaShare
Subject to rules on proper posting, notably including no recordings
currently in print, one may post there the URL for one's recent upload.
Or you may ask for a favorite title which someone is likely to post for
you. If one person asks for a good recording of the 1935 Met broadcast
of "Tristan und Isolde" with Flagstad and Melchior, someone will post
his for download. Then someone else may offer a copy from a better
source or one which has been cleaned up. Regardless, the recording is
available at an investment of interconnect time - and no other cost."
[log in to unmask]