July 2007


One of the aspects of virtual world SecondLife is the social interaction it enables between people from different real locations. I was curious as to how live music performances worked, and, having joined several live music social groups I quickly found a live performance in progress and teleported to a club lounge, where I found about 15 avatars dancing or standing around, and one with a guitar on stage animated to play the guitar, while the sound was streamed live into the sim.

The lone singer-guitarist seemed bemused that the host had vanished offline (perhaps their computer had crashed) and one of the audience indicated that they had a club and everyone could transfer there.

The new club “Sound Factory” was well set up with a dance floor, and several avatars were already dancing before the music had begun to stream.

Sound Factory SL

Conversations were broadcast across the screen and when the sound came through the performer, Mr Jonze, spoke in response to several of the comments being broadcast. He interacted with the small crowd and conversed between songs, as though there was a small gathering in his lounge-room.

I asked the crowd if there were any tutorials on sound streaming, and got a rather abrupt response from the club owner, Politically Beck to say “it’s so easy even a caveman could do it”. Perhaps its not etiquette to ask tech questions of a probably knowledgeable crowd in a social setting, but I found that a bit unhelpful.

Nonetheless the music was good and the sound quality was surprisingly good lending a good club/restaurant atmosphere to the scene. It differed substantially from any Real life (RL) situation in that you could dance, converse and interact with the performer to a far greater extent than you could in RL. I had a good dance and conversation with Marieke CLoetens and laughed at the antics of Peet the monkey :-)

And with it being evening in Australia, the performer Mr Jonze had just been up for an hour in the US and others were there in the room from the UK and from NZ – quite a mix that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

I learnt a lot about the social side of SL, and look forward to checking out a couple more of the music venues.

Cheers
Jerry

Tried the new talk browser on NMC last night – and it works :-) I had a conversation with Anya Ixchel.

First impressions – this is pushing the technology to its limits. The browser is quite unstable, causing me to crash a couple of times. The voice is clear, but then breaks up in segments with buffer over-runs as the processing power of the computer gets a bit overwhelmed.

I was able to play some fiddle into SL for the first time, using this medium which was great. But in the end Anya and I reverted to typing as the voice eventually became too broken up for clear communication.

It is certainly a good start, but I doubt if can be used if there are several people on the sim at any one time.

Separately, it was good to catch up with Radhika the other night – it’s amazing where former cyberminders are turning up :-) As she points out, it’s almost like the old MOO days.

Cheers
Jerry

I’ve never quite been able to get CD-standard recordings out of my computer – until now! Yes it’s a new toy, a TASCAM US-122L - and I really wasn’t sure how it would go when I bought it based on internet reviews – via eBay. So what is this thing? It’s a device to plug your musical instrument or microphone into your computer via USB and it converts your analogue input into MIDI input.

TASCAM US-122L

Until now, I had been using a small four channel mixer into the mic input of the iMac. Previously, there has always been a bit of hiss or noise from the desk and effects pedal – always low, but present. This is the first time I have had truly clean signal input via the USB port with a two-channel midi interface.

In the box is the TASCAM US-122L unit, a USB cable (which powers the device as well as provides input-output) three CDs – one to install the driver, one to install Cubase lite and one to install GigaStudio3.0 – for windows machines. I was mainly interested to see how it would perform with Tracktion studio recording software – having just upgraded to Tracktion3.0.

After installing the driver on the mac, I plugged the TASCAM unit in and it lit up straight away. The device can take two inputs – and it has both jack and canon sockets. It also has a switch to provide phantom power for mics that would otherwise need a pre-amp.

There is also a headphone socket so you can hear either the input or the output to the computer – or a mix of the two. The device has almost zero lag or latency, and the sound is very clean – no noise or hiss at all!

The Tracktion studio recording software was able to take the midi input without difficulty and I was quickly able to get some nice clean recordings – so perhaps a CD is not out of the question now. Here is the whole recording studio!

TASCAM US-122L

Overall, the device is compact, and it performs its fairly simple function of taking your analogue instrument input and turning it into clean digital signal very well indeed.

Okay, don’t take my word for it – have a listen to my fairly average playing of Ashokan Farewell. I thoroughly recommend this device if you are thinking of recording sound on your computer.

Cheers
Jerry

I had some wonderful feedback from Frieberg-trained linguist Tamsin Sanderson on my systemic functional music schema and as a consequence have incorporated a number of amendments – this piece is developing rapidly!

I have added a component in the text on the physics of music, and on why pianos are always out of tune – and why THAT is a radical innovation for western music!

Enjoy :-)

Cheers
Jerry

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