All who were signing in appeared to be there and ready at 19.00.
There were eight people ‘in the room’ but one was there as a listener (me) and one had disabling technical issues. So there were six participating players.
There were sound checks going participant by participant.
The problem is that players do not know how loud they are to the other players. The only way to tell this is to get each player to play and the others to say if too loud or too soft. This was done at fair speed and good humour and took about 20 mins. This included some discussion as how to do this and might be faster once people know this is going to happen.
There had been an idea to try and get people to match volume to a sound (a saw-tooth wave or some such) to speed things up. This was a technological stage too far at this juncture.
The plan was for firstly four sessions eight minutes, 4 play and 4 tacet.
Each of these sessions would have one player listening and not playing. This fell into disarray because there were two play lists and no simple way was found to settle on how to sort this. It seemed to work out well enough in the end.
There was a final session with everyone playing and in the end a change to the clock settings was not made as time was running on. So again 50:50 and divided 4+4.
The first track started at 19.24. I listened looking at the audacity screen. It was good.
The second track started at 19.35. I watched the screen with all the players. I found this easier to process as one could relate sound to the person, instrument and mode of playing, and I was less conscious of the sounds being squeezed into a stereo mix.
The third track began at 19.44 One participant played but with the sound turned down to zero, as if practising. Very odd to see and hear all the players bar one.
The fourth track started at 19.55 The piece was made with all screens turned off. It might be that the players listened harder not having visual cues as there seemed to be a greater degree of intensity in this. Oddly, the piece finished early, which should not happen with the clocks. I managed to delete rather than save a recording.
Track five began after 20.00. Maybe because people knew this was the last track of the evening the piece gained a more energetic and upbeat aspect as it progressed.
There was some discussion after this with players grateful to have the chance to play and participate. There was enthusiasm for the project to continue next week.
I found I had managed to lose the recording of track four. However, tracks 1,2,3,5 are available if anyone wants to listen back. It might be interesting to check the balances. My general impression was that quiet sounds drop out and lose clarity very quickly, but my recording here was crude. (There is sound coming out of tiny computer speakers and into the computer via the computer mic.)
There was a plan to try and record using the Zoom record button, but as far as I know this did not happen. On the other hand, Martin Hackett said he had recorded the session and I would be astounded if his set up was not vastly superior to mine.
I find it very odd that there is no feedback or echo. If only one person had the sound made by the others coming out of their speakers back into their mic then there would be considerable distortion. This (pleasingly) is not happening. It seems improbable that all the set-ups have just been lucky in avoiding this.
Before the first session it seemed logical that headphones would be the answer, as then the sound is contained and cannot get re-broadcast. The rumour was that this, in reality, led to problems. However, those using headphones do not seem to have problems. Is this right?
The other option, that people have the sound from the other players coming out of loudspeakers, looks like asking for problems, as this sound has to be shielded from the microphone they play into, which in many environments will be hard to do. In actuality there did not seem to be any problems here either. Is this right?
If Zoom is really sophisticated then it could have some sort of noise cancelling (they would not want echoes in business meetings, for sure). If Zoom were filtering out that problem then this takes one whole hassle out of participation and technological requirements.
I suggest a questionnaire to find out what set up people used and how they found that to use.