ANU_Autonomous Noise Unit. Noise Orchestra

News from Noise Orchestra 2020, we’ve been working on ANU, a new project to develop technology to help musicians play together online. ANU is a hardware unit that runs Jacktrip software on a Raspberry Pi microcontroller, musicians who have an ANU unit can easily patch in with their instrument or mic, find other ANU users and improvise live over the internet via our NOISE SERVER. Think of it like a rehearsal room online.

The project was borne out of the pandemic situation, Dave and Sam were testing out available online tools for networked jamming and finding a mix of latency issues and not so great audio quality through the well known videochat services. The best open source software out there Jacktrip (developed at Stanford) whilst providing the best audio solution was proving to be a difficult interface and setup for beginners to get started. The research and development was therefore to explore how Jacktrip software could be used on a small hardware module with an easy interface for beginners, where musicians could simply plug in and play music together online. We were pleased to be supported by Innovate UK’s Covid 19 emergency response fund to build a hardware prototype, develop a web platform and get musicians involved for testing!

I worked on the visual design for the project, ANU – god of the skies! We wanted to communicate ideas of transmission, summoning up ancient ritual noise fragments and communing with others across the network, Dave created a fantastic narrative for the piece (*remember to click on the ANU logo) and read the scroll.

ANU god of the skies narrative

The website platform provides an introduction to the project, a technical ‘how to’ guide and signal flow approach plus frequently asked questions. Importantly musicians can create their own login profile and the server automatically saves the audio file of the recorded sessions for archive and playback. The platform represents the first phase in development, Dave and Sam are continuing live jam tests across the UK, Europe and further afield, it’s been fascinating to test these geographical potentials. The internet as a space for improvisation is fertile ground for experimentation, bringing into question how we collaborate, perceive and communicate within this dimension and what that means for the players and the listeners within networked time based media. We intend to progress the project with more groups and testing and further technical developments including hosting a listen back page on the website, where previous jams can be livestreamed and played back.

Visit the ANU website to learn more about the project, or our Noise Orchestra Blog to read about the technical development stages. It was a brilliant collaborative project bringing wonderful Sam Andreae into the Noise Orchestra fold who did an amazing job coding the hardware and website. We also worked with Tom Ward on the Noise Server and as ever legend Chris Ball who made the dashing laser cut boxes for the test modules.

signal flow diagram

We’re enjoying the feedback from musicians and groups who have been using the ANU units, we’ll keep you posted on next stages.


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