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Playing & Singing Together Remotely (That Latency Thing)

Along with many other forms of human interaction, live musical collaboration has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread quarantining and social distancing essentially suspended performances that require precise timing among multiple players – everything from classical symphonies and choir ensembles to jazz quartets and rock bands. And playing together online through teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype is not a viable option, due to inevitable audio and video lags.

Into this breach has stepped a free, open-source software called JackTrip. Developed by Stanford University music professor Chris Chafe and colleagues, JackTrip enables virtually real-time sound streaming over the internet. In this way, JackTrip can often reduce latency – the annoying time delay in data transfer – from one geographical location to another to under a critical threshold of 25 milliseconds. While tiny, that smidgen of time is perceivable by human listeners and is enough to throw a coordinated musical performance out of sync.

Now, on standard, home-to-home internet connections, JackTrip is now reconnecting a growing number of professional musicians, as well as music teachers with their students... (more)

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