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Toward Professional Distributed Performances: Effects of a Global Metronome on Networked Musical Ensemble Interactions

Modern communication networks enable audiovisual interaction between geographically distant locations in near real time, leading to an increasing interest in networked music performance (NMP) and growing availability of related tools and applications. An important point of such distributed performances is the nature of interaction between the performers, which poses challenges toward, e.g., the network latency in the communication chain. Extensive research in the field of NMPs has shown that it is possible to achieve stabilization of synchrony and tempo deviation by providing a global time reference signal at each location of an NMP. In this study, for the first time, both an auditory and visual global metronome were integrated into the ecosystem of a physical NMP to evaluate the objective musical outcome and perceived benefit of the metronome with a professional music ensemble of five musicians between Munich and Hanover. The objective analysis shows that the metronome has a positive effect in terms of tempo stability at high latency levels, whereas synchrony strongly depends on the individual coping strategy of each musician. The subjective analysis suggests that a perceivable positive effect of the metronome is discernible for the musicians at all latency levels.


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