UNCG Campus Weekly

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Marjorie Bagley duets with musician far away, in display of innovative technology

Playing a duet with someone when you’re on opposite sides of the stage is far from ideal. The delay in the sound reaching each other would pose problems.

What if you want to practice – or perform – with another musician elsewhere in the world? In telecommunications, the sound lag will be even more pronounced, right?

Dr. Marjorie Bagley (Music) was recently part of a demonstration of technology enabling such performances with low-latency audio and videoconferencing technology.

“I do find it fascinating, and I do have some background interest,” Bagley said of this new LOLA technology she demonstrated. “When I was in graduate school, I studied with Pinchas Zukerman, one of the world’s great violinists. He was on the road a lot and worked with Manhattan School of Music and a private donor to set up lessons using video-conferencing technology.”

At that time – the mid-’90s – low-speed internet connectivity was the norm.

“I was still using a dial-up modem, so I was blown away by the immediacy of the experience when Zukerman was in Germany and I was in NYC, and we could have a violin lesson in what felt like real time! In those lessons, the speakers and microphones used were very high quality, since sound was the highest priority.”

She first used this new technology at a LOLA demonstration performance last year at a Raleigh conference.

“I was perhaps less shocked than some might have been since I’d had lessons using older, but similar, technology. The remarkable thing about LOLA, of course, is the low latency. It really feels like we’re in the same room, talking to each other (or playing, in this case) just 30 or so feet apart.”

Bagley joined UNCG in 2009 as an associate professor of violin. She has been on the faculty of Ohio University, Utah State University, and the International Music Academy in Pilsen – and has also taught at the Brevard Music Center, the Perlman Music Program, the Kinhaven Music School, and the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Program.

As a performer, she really enjoys the challenge and adventure of learning new pieces.

And as a teacher? “I am fascinated by the mechanics of violin playing. In order to create a musical, artistic performance, we have to gain considerable technical control. I truly enjoy helping each student break down the parts of their technique that need work and then building them back up so that the student is able to give voice to their musical ideas.”

Will her UNCG students be using this cutting-edge telecommunications technology? She is currently working to arrange master classes for her students with a musician at another university with LOLA capability. “Matt Libera, our tech guru in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, has us set up with LOLA and ready to go.”

Libera adds, “We approached the LOLA project from a musical standpoint, as that was the reason the software was developed, but we are completely open to finding new and innovative uses for the technology, and LOLA’s founder Claudio Allocchio is as well.”

The Conservatorio G. Tartini in Trieste, Italy, and the GARR Italian Research & Education Network, GARR, developed LOLA. The LOLA technology is able to reduce the latency down to effectively 35 milliseconds. This musically translates to 35 feet, which is like being on the opposite side of the stage from the musician, according to a release. Early adopter Internet2 institutions starting to use LOLA are UNCG, the NIU School of Music, the New World Symphony in Miami, the University of Southern California and the University of Virginia.

A news report and video can be seen here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local//region/45044-high-tech-duet-illusrates-the-power-of-a-brand-new-internet

UNCG’s ITS provides the university’s funding for LOLA and is responsible for the UNCG LOLA software contract, as well as the university’s membership in Internet2. Those with questions or ideas for its use in any part of the university may contact Gloria Thornton (ITS).