About MusicPath

The MusicPath Mobile iPhone app redefines authentic musical communication over distance between MIDI musical instruments. In fact, immediate and accurate musical presence of the music collaborator's performance at destination point is achieved doing entirely away with audio streaming applications, often plagued by the vagaries and time degradations of online audio transmissions.

Instead, MusicPath Mobile assigns musical performance to MIDI's standardized transmission protocol, assuring a precise description of all relevant music parameters in a discrete data format. Upon arrival at destination, MusicPath Mobile's patented algorithm assures, with minimal delay, a perfect assembly of time-coded musical events for immediate performance, exactly as it was created at source of origin.

In other words, musicians precisely remotely control each other’s instruments without having to be present on location. For example, a teacher would be able to directly experience via MIDI transmission the student's performance without audio degradation usually associated with audio/video conferencing.

Developed at Acadia University, MusicPath Mobile's patented MIDI true time code transmission algorithm incorporates smart solutions addressing limited bandwidth capacity, latency, jitter and sound quality. It really is musical communication redefined.

The achievement of the MusicPath Mobile system can now be appreciated by its ability to enable music educators in the delivery of high-quality pedagogy via a digital medium. Relying on networked music transfer via the MIDI protocol for quality of music delivery service, virtual music communities now have access to Master Artists, regardless of geographical limitations. MusicPath Mobile is now in a unique position connecting institutions and learners over distance.

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Lucas Porter (back screen) taking real-time virtual music lessons on a Yamaha Disklavier at Acadia University in Nova Scotia with professor Marc Durand (left) at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Ontario

The MusicPath Advantage

Abstract

The newly developed MusicPath Mobile for iPhone app connects musicians and music educators over distance in real time using the MIDI protocol.

Superior to audio transmission, this app faithfully reproduces every nuance of a musical performance, with minimal bandwidth requirements, using the MIDI protocol and a patented transmission protocol developed at Acadia University.

This educationally driven application is expected to have significant potential to foster and benefit a wide range of newly emerging virtual music communities.

Breaking new grounds, the MusicPath system directly connects musician’s and music educator’s musical instruments over distance in real time, without resorting to audio transmission as a primary means of communication.

Explanation

Instead of music content being transmitted as a stream of continuous audio wave form data, the MusicPath system communicates using the music industry standard MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) data protocol built into digital music instruments.

In other words, instead of transmitting a musical event by means of continuous waveform real-time data representation, subjected to the network transmission vagaries and time degradations, MusicPath Mobile takes advantage of MIDI’s data protocol. This data protocol, instead of representing sound, describes all essential music parameters in form of a command language which then creates the sound, identical to original form at destination.

Upon arrival at the destination point, MusicPath Mobile’s patented algorithm assures, with minimal delay, a perfectly aligned re-assembly of all time-coded musical events for immediate performance, exactly as they were created at the point of origin.

Perceptual Advatages

It is important to realize that for this particular communication chain, every nuance of musical detail transmitted is actually being identically recreated at destination, especially if identical instruments are used. In other words, it is projecting a perfect mirror image of musical content either transmitted or received. In fact, this mirror-like equally projecting capacity allows a much closer aligned perceptual merging of separate sonic places into a single unifying musical experience.

If both instruments would be advanced Yamaha Disklavier acoustical/digital pianos, this advanced constellation would further allow for a very closely matching perceptual integration for both ends now having an identical, real-to-life acoustical reference. We consider this attractive for institutional partnerships sharing masterclasses, online music instruction lessons, and shared concert performances.

Taking this situation even a step further: some acoustical/digital pianos can even physically move keys! With such capacity, real-time “hands-on” physical interaction can actually be personally experienced by feeling keys and pedals moving with great precision, remotely operated between instructor and student, something not even possible in “real life”!

Clearly, there is tremendous potential for innovative, further refined teaching methods, or even a vision of music therapy clinicians reaching out to clients with newly invented physical, tactile sound interfaces. In fact, because MIDI requires only a fraction of bandwidth compared to AV transmission, even remote locations without internet but limited cellular service can participate: virtual music communities can now have access to music education, regardless of geographical limitations.


MusicPath History

The MusicPath project came into life as a collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and development project by Acadia University Faculty Dr. James Diamond, Jodrey School of Computer Science, and Dr. Christoph Both, School of Music, on invitation of Acadia's Project Manager Karen Wilder.

Acadia University, at that time an undisputed leader in technology driven education, recognized tremendous potential in CANARIE's just established institutional CA*Net4 networks infrastructure. In 2003, inspired by Dr. Both's recently established music technology program and Dr. Diamond's expertise in network communications, Acadia's project manager secured external funding for what CANARIE considered one of their most ambitious annual online content projects. Major music industry partnerships with Yamaha Music Canada and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, were established.

At the premiere of MusicPath in 2004 at the Royal Conservatory of Music with legendary pianist Dr. Oscar Peterson in attendance, digital acoustic Yamaha Disklaviers between Ontario and Nova Scotia were connected through advanced high-speed networks. This event opened up unprecedented dimensions of musical performance and learning.

Acadia's CFO Dov Bercovici was specifically assigned to support MusicPath's educational and commercial potential by establishing a shared partnership between the inventors and Acadia University, helping to secure a US patent for the corporation. Promotion and national and international exposure followed as far as the US, Australia and, on invitation of the Canadian Government International Trade Commission, MusicPath was presented at the Canadian Pavilion of Invention at CEBIT in Germany. Following considerable upgrading from initial laptop-based platforms MusicPath Mobile is now ready to be offered to music education collaboration partners, using the social media driven iPhone.


Acknowledgements

Ryan Muis, RM Web Design

Prof. John Hansen, Piano Pedagogy Interface

Prof. Marc Durand, Piano Pedagogy Interface

Prof. Mark Adam, Electronic Drum Interface

Lucas Porter, Pianist

Dave Sheehan, Video

Terry Aulenbach, Video

Jerry George, IT assistance

Songyuan Hu, Lead, Electronic Drum Interface

Alec Bloch, Electronic Drum Assistance

Jeremy Wheaton, iPhone Interface Developer

Tim Cooper, iPhone Interface Developer

Yixin Yang, iPhone Interface Developer

Bailin He, iPhone App Support


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