Singing over the Internet - is it possible?


This initial question preoccupied not only the German barbershop association BinG! but virtually all singing groups, regardless of their size and style, after the pandemic turned our hobby into a "hazardous" activity. Many initiatives were subsequently revived or restarted around the globe with the aim of bridging the necessary physical distance. In our project, however, we were not concerned with approaches to reduce the risk of infection through greater physical distance - singing with great spacing outdoors or in empty parking decks, singing in cars, and the like - but with singers completely separated spatially who nevertheless sing at the same time. Very quickly it became clear that common video conferencing systems do not allow this because the transmission of the data over the Internet does not allow true simultaneity. However, there were and are several software products that minimize this so-called latency to such an extent that simultaneously sung chords are actually possible.

In a first part of the project, Jamulus was identified as the most suitable product for our purposes. In a second part, we tried to determine the limits of Jamulus. A test with 100 singers was successfully completed. Especially the sound quality was rated as convincing by the participants. The overall impression achieved a somewhat weaker verdict. The main reason for this is probably that the singing of untrained participants slows down noticeably in the course of a piece: waiting for the tone heard in order to sing simultaneously to it tends to cause an accumulation of the latencies of the individual singers. However, it has already been shown that this effect can be significantly reduced with practice. In any case, to get started, singing chord progressions as instructed by a conductor, such as Tags, and choosing slow pieces at a steady tempo is highly recommended, and then the question of this article can be answered "yes" with a clear conscience.

Interested parties can find a detailed description of the procedure and the findings here.

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