MalLo: A Distributed Synchronized Musical Instrument Designed For Internet Performance

Jin, Zeyu and Oda, Reid and Finkelstein, Adam and Fiebrink, Rebecca

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

The Internet holds a lot of potential as a music listening, collaboration, and performance space. It has become commonplace to stream music and video of musical performance over the web. However, the goal of playing rhythmically synchronized music over long distances has remained elusive due to the latency inherent in networked communication. The farther apart two artists are from one another, the greater the delay. Furthermore, latency times can change abruptly with no warning. In this paper, we demonstrate that it is possible to create a distributed, synchronized musical instrument that allows performers to play together over long distances, despite latency. We describe one such instrument, MalLo, which combats latency by predicting a musician’s action before it is completed. MalLo sends information about a predicted musical note over the Internet before it is played, and synthesizes this note at a collaborator’s location at nearly the same moment it is played by the performer. MalLo also protects against latency spikes by sending the prediction data across multiple network paths, with the intention of routing around latency.