A Clarinet Solo, Writ Small

“We may have found the absolute least amount of data needed to reproduce a piece of music.”
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Researchers at the University of Rochester announced they had successfully compressed a 20-second clarinet solo to a single kilobyte.

“This is essentially a human-scale system of reproducing music,” stated Mark Bocko, professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-creator of the technology. “Humans can manipulate their tongue, breath and fingers only so fast, so in theory we shouldn’t really have to measure the music many thousands of times a second like we do on a CD.

“As a result, I think we may have found the absolute least amount of data needed to reproduce a piece of music.”

To replay the music, the computer reproduces the original performance based on everything it has been taught about clarinets and clarinet playing — from backpressure in the mouthpiece for different fingerings to the way sound radiates from the instrument.

Bocko said the sound reproduction is not yet perfect, but it is very close.

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