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17 Players in Five States, Composing Over the Internet

Last month, I did something I used to do often before the pandemic: I watched a rehearsal. But this time it wasn’t a matter of sitting in a concert hall and watching a group work onstage.Sixteen instrumentalists from the contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound were scattered across several states and four makeshift home offices and professional studios, working with Tyshawn Sorey on his “Autoschediasms.” To synchronize everyone’s efforts, each “pod” of musicians was simultaneously logged into two different internet conferencing applications.One web browser tool, LiveLab, used the rectangular, talking-head format familiar from months of Zoom. But since video conferencing is rife with delays in sound signals, not to mention less than stellar quality, the musicians’ microphones were s...

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