Quintet.Net: an interactive performance environment for the Internet

Publication Type  Conference Paper
Year of Publication  2004
Authors  Hajdu, Georg
Conference Name  OSC Conference 2004
Conference Start Date  30/07/2004
Abstract  Quintet.net is an interactive network performance environment invented and developed by composer and computer musician Georg Hajdu. It enables performers at up to five locations to play music over the Internet under the control of a "conductor." The environment, which was programmed with the graphical programming language Max/MSP, consists of five components: a Server, a Client, a Conductor, a Listener and a Viewer. These components exchange data using Matt Wright’s OpenSoundControl (OSC) and otudp Max external objects. Quintet.net was conceived in 1999, soon after CNMAT made these objects publicly available.

The players interact over the Internet by sending control streams to the Server containing data that comes from a pitch tracker, MIDI, or simply the computer keyboard. On the Server, the streams are copied, processed, and sent back to the Clients as well as to the Listeners. In addition, a conductor can log onto the server and control the musical outcome by changing settings remotely and sending streams of parameter values as well as short instructions to the players.

Quintet.net uses a sampler or MIDI for instrumental playback. It also features granular synthesis as well as VST plug-ins for sound processing and playback, and has additional video and graphical properties, which permit better interaction and control on a symbolic level: The performers along with the audience see the music which the participants produce on screen in "space" notation on five grand staves. In addition, video clips and/or live video can be displayed by the Viewer add-on and mixed with real-time music notation for an enhanced viewing experience. The Conductor can also read musical scores and send parts to the performers, which will be displayed along with the notes produced by the musicians.

The music performed with Quintet.net is a combination of composed and improvised elements. The lack of real synchronicity (because of network latency) necessitates the adaptation of a genuine "Internet" performance style for which John Cage's number pieces could be considered a model: These pieces require certain notes or phrases to be played within "time brackets."

Recently, a composition development kit, including several visual editors, was added in order to facilitate the creation of pieces for the environment. Several pieces have specifically been written for the Quintet.net and successfully performed in high-profile venues.
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