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Stories from the grid, Episode 2: the Epigonion

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Today’s demanding academic research
needs sophisticated computing power. What if there was a way to put spare
computing power at a university to good use by making it available to others.
If we can pool this computing power together we will be able to speed up research work. That’s exactly what the European Grid Infrastructure does, with the grid. This network of computer servers at universities across Europe supports a wide range of cutting edge research. Welcome to Stories from the Grid. In this episode, the Epigonion. This greek string instrument hasn’t
been heard for centuries. Ancient information of the Epigonion has
been combined with the power of the grid to recreate its sound. Now it can be played once again, in this orchestra, using just a keyboard and a laptop. Got a keyboard of your own? Then you might just as well download the
sounds of the Epigonion and play it yourself. This all started with one man, who
believes that harmony in nature and in physics are not that far apart. I’m a scientist, researcher and a music composer The Epigonion is an extremely interesting instrument, it
exists from five to six centuries before
Christ. It has forty eight strings. The Epigonion if you like, is the first instrument in history that allowed the players to play harmonies together, so to pluck more than one string at the same time. Creating sound libraries and making them available for everybody, we thought it was much more attractive
than just having a beautifully crafted wooden made sample of the Epigonion to be put in a museum and just a few lucky people could touch it. But how do you digitally recreate the
sound of an instrument that hasn’t been around for thousands of
years? There are quite a lot of descriptions about the history of this instrument. We analysed
pictures from pottery, frescoes, from Greek vases. This is the kind of information we normally work with. All this information was then combined
in reconstruction software to calculate what the Epigonion
sounded like this technique is called physical
modelling The reconstruction of of each string of the Epigonion and can be considered as a separate problem. So we have forty eight strings for example you can have forty-eight different reconstruction jobs that you can run on the grid. On a standard laptop or on a standard computer reconstructing all the sounds that we use to play an Epigonion would take something like a month worth of computation and calculation. On the grid it just takes two to four hours. The results that are coming back from the grid are a .ZIP file, let’s say a file containing forty eight audio files, each of them is the
reproduction of the of the sound of that particular string, in this way any musician can play, can play the Epigonion just using a, just using a keyboard Once calculated the sounds of the Epigonion can be used for a number of interesting musical experiments, one of them is the Lost Sounds
Orchestra, which features reconstructed instruments
like the Epigonion. We are recording a series of pieces for a CD for example with real musicians and an Epigonion and this is just a way to show, show people that we can actually use the Epigonion as a modern instrument, as a guitar, as any other instrument. So to wrap it all up. To recreate the sound of the Greek Epigonion information from ancient sources has been
collected to find out what the instrument looked like, what materials it was made of, how the strings were constructed and how it was played. This knowledge was combined with a technique called physical
modeling. Calculation were then needed to find out
how all the properties would work together to create the sound for each of the forty
eight strings. For each string these calculations were
sent to the grid. The results that came back were used to
create a sound library, so musicians anywhere can now freely play the Epigonion. Now we know how the grid has help to
find out what an Epigonion sounds like, what more could be possible in the
future? I work for DANTE the organization building and operating GÉANT, the European backbone for research and education. Thanks to this project, thanks to the role of advanced networking and grid computing we expect that musicians can eventually be able to play together with really low latency and probably having
a concert or jam session sitting in their homes or in their
institutions that can be thousands of kilometres away. The vast computing power of the grid has turned out to be an excellent tool for musical science, want to see how the
grid is useful in other fields of research? Then join us next time for another episode of Stories from the Grid

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3 thoughts on “Stories from the grid, Episode 2: the Epigonion”

  1. Simon Leinen says:

    In this case, the generic music is especially annoying, but I guess there's a law that says all videos of this kind HAVE to be covered in it.

  2. JWarsoffMusic says:

    where could one download the virtual instrument to be played on a midi keyboard?

  3. Petros Vouris says:

    This might as well be as exclusive as being "in a museum" as you say as It seems impossible to find any links to the Epigonion program/sounds. I have looked everywhere! Can you please prove me wrong, share this with the world as this video suggests, and share with us a link to this program. Thank you.

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