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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Mar-18 > BUILDING THE FUTURE OF MUSIC

BUILDING THE FUTURE OF MUSIC

A collaboration between the world-famous Nokia Bell Labs and singer-songwriter Beatie Wolfe yielded one of last year’s most-talked-about revolutions in both the music making and listening domains. Fusing audio, virtual and augmented reality, ambisonic sound and a 78-year-old anechoic chamber, Beatie’s Raw Space became not just a record, but a fully fledged immersive experience. MusicTech spoke to Beatie Wolfe and Nokia Bell Labs about this incredible achievement, and what the future has in store for how the world experiences music…

MT INTERVIEW

Home to the architects of many of the technological innovations in audio, film and television, Nokia Bell Labs, first established in 1925, has been responsible for, among other things, the first-ever long-distance TV signal, high-definition television standards and, perhaps most relevant for MusicTech readers, playing a key role in determining the technology behind the audio standard of MP3 as well as the video standard of MPEG. The company was also responsible for some of the earliest experiments with high-fidelity stereo recording and reproduction way back in the early 1930s, as well as spearheading many early innovations in computing.

Put simply, the goal of Bell Labs is to build the future and today, this mission is as pivotal as ever. The president is Marcus Weldon and he spoke to us about the philosophy of Bell Labs and its remarkable recently revived) E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) programme.

“We like the impossible here,” Marcus says, “…and we focus on achieving concepts and ideas that might be perceived as being out of our reach. We’re also invested in creating new technologies – our parent company, Nokia, commercialises some of those technologies, we license patents for some of this technology as well. But, in a nutshell, our mission is to invent the future of human

communication and do it in a way that’s disruptive and transformative.”

E.A.T. TO THE BEATIE

So how did the project with Beatie come about, and why is the Bell Labs so interested in music makers? “E.A.T. actually started 50 years ago,” Marcus says. “It was a collaboration between Bell Labs scientists and creatives like Andy Warhol, John Cage and Robert Whitman. Basically, artists and scientists came to the same realisation that technology was going to have a massive impact on art and wider culture, in particular digital technology, and that what was possible in a creative sense – whether that’s video production, music production and immersive technology – was expanding, making some things that previously were impossible, possible. Back in the day, we produced a series of performances that have become quite well known – called 9 Evenings – and this was over 50 years ago. Many artists we work with say to us: ‘Wow, I learned about E.A.T. and 9 Evenings at art school’, and what an amazing art-tech initiative it was. That’s always massively rewarding to hear. “

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About MusicTech

Now settled into 2018 we look ahead to the future of music. With NAMM 2018 behind us we had a chance to ponder on the many new and exciting pieces of tech we saw and their impact on music creation. In this issue, we bring you our annual show report, containing info on all the latest tech that you can expect to get your hands on in 2018. In keeping with the ‘future’ theme, our lead interview highlights the work of the legendary technological pioneers at the Bell Labs and their collaboration with artist Beatie Wolfe. Their augmented reality, 3D work Raw Space reimagines the album as a multi-sensory, immersive experience. We also speak to Aki Mäkivirta from Genelec about the advanced tech at the heart of the award-winning The Ones monitors. Elsewhere this issue, we have a guide to taking your mixes to the stage, our usual tips and tutorials and an expanded reviews section. We hope you enjoy the issue…