Project Bar-BQ 2007 Report Released

For those that aren’t familiar with the BarBQ Interactive Music conference, it is quite an event. Held in darkest Texas, away from the distractions that so often inhibit our epiphany and catharsis, BarBQ is a gathering of some of the brightest minds working in interactive audio and computer music fields. The goal of the conference is Influencing Music Hardware and Software Over the Next Five Years, and before everyone gets there that is about as far as the topic planning has gone.

Over the next three nights, everyone gets together and chooses topics, breaks into workgroups, and proceed to gather as much insight as possible on what they feel are the most pressing or timely issues related to the state and development of interactive music. The culmination of the conference is a report detailing the groups’ synopses of the problems, and some recommended solutions. A remarkable number of innovations, such as iXMF, started here.

The BarBQ 2007 Report was just finished, and I feel there are some good indications of both problems and solutions the industry as a whole should deal with moving forward.

I was apart of two groups. The Interactive Audio group looked at the current state of adaptive audio and found that we have taken some steps back. It seems that we have traded some adaptability and flexibility in our interactive scores for higher fidelity audio assets. This is coupled with problems with available tools, education, and resource allocation. Our section of the report elucidates on all of these fronts, and attempts to take some steps toward solving them.

The second group I was apart of dealt with metadata, specifically the fact that there is no standard for sharing metadata among programs; especially programs in different stages of the production pipeline. A lot of the metadata created in different programs could be used further along in the process for asset management and manipulation. Also, rich and shared metadata could be used to attribute compositional elements to their authors; a problem becoming more and more relevant in our remix culture.

We proposed a solution called Highly Distributed Metadata, or HDM. This would use an RSS like protocol to share metadata among applications, and provide a mechanism for the search of missing data. By tagging files with a unique ID, their metadata would be attached to them like a pointer, but also be free to be dealt with at will.

The full reports on these two topics, and many more interesting aspects on the state of computer music are in this report, and I encourage anyone interesting in interactive audio to peruse it.

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