Tiga Trio plays live from a long distance

Tiga Trio is multi-instrumentalist Jay Afrisando (Indonesia), theremin player and electronic musician Ng Chor Guan (Malaysia) and bassist Daniel de Mendoza (Colombia). We talk to Jay Afrisando about the group’s continued collaborations after OneBeat.

Where did your group, TIGAtrio, get the idea to start rehearsing using Skype? What does a music rehearsal over video chat sound like?

On the last day of OneBeat at Islandwood (Bainbridge Island, Washington), we decided we wanted to have more live collaborations remotely. Skype appeared in our mind suddenly. We did it eventually in mid-January this year; it was about Saturday 9 PM at Daniel’s place (Bogota), Sunday 10 AM at Guan’s place (Kuala Lumpur), and Sunday 9 AM at my place (Yogyakarta).

At the first trial, we found that Skype only is not enough to use as a platform due to the intolerant audio latency and bad audio quality. In order to have a smooth and better audio connection, we also utilized an application called Source-Connect Now to obtain a better audio quality supporting the video communication of Skype.

TIGAtrio finally had our first live long-distance performance on this past April. It was held during “Mode[a]rn” performance in Yogyakarta (8 PM). Following up, Guan also had the performance  publicly open at his studio (Space Toccata) at the same time in Kuala Lumpur (9 PM). Daniel performed it in Bogota but it was 8 AM there so he did it at home. It was an incredibly impressive performance; the sound output was extremely smooth although the video connection was stagnating at some points.

Considering that our music is free improvisation, we think that latency will not be that problem. Instead, we consider that tolerant latency will become a unique part in our works.

Is this the first time you’ve considered using software to perform remotely?

I have thought of using that kind of technology starting eight years ago when I was a drop-out computer science student and just starting to compose music. My computer knowledge let me dream of having a remote performance.

A lot of musicians collaborate overseas on recording — but for rehearsals and performances, it seems rare. How come?

Executing an overseas performance is not that easy. If musicians want to get no latency in their audio output, the audio connection should be good. I’ve heard about some ways of arranging this kind of connection, ranging from establishing a new dedicated server to using satellite communication. However, requires a lot of effort. If musicians can tolerate the latency, as long as it’s not a problem, it’s good. Yet, it depends on what aesthetics the musicians want to achieve.

If you had access to a ‘dream coder’ who could design any technology for TIGAtrio to use, what would you have them make?

I would have them make a special website for TIGAtrio to do a long distance collaboration. It would contain applications to allow us to have smooth audio-visual connection as well as a dedicated server to support our crazy acts and ideas. The website would also give a chance for worldwide audiences (even extraterrestrials) to watch our live collaborations.