Peter Jeffery

Real Audio

Secure Digital Music Initiative

Paul Lansky

Digital Copyrights?

Corrections or additions?

These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 14,

1999. All rights reserved. U.S. 1 had two cover stories for this issue.

For the story SHARKS OF SUMMER go to

Digital Audio on the Net — Truth & Consequences

by Douglas Dixon

The growth of the Internet has created both wonderful

new opportunities for people to share their work with a much wider

audience around the world, and frightening changes that threaten to

destroy existing businesses. Both of these forces are at work with

the distribution of music over the Internet: powerful audio compression

technology makes it easy to publish and download music anywhere in

the world, and at the same time widespread distribution of "free"

music threatens to put the record companies out of business.

"Like everything else on the Internet," says Paul Lansky,

chairman of the Department of Music and professor of music composition

at Princeton University, "it’s totally chaotic, and very exciting."

Lansky has been teaching at Princeton for 30 years. As a composer

of digital music, he has seen the development of digital audio technology

from a lone pursuit that required huge expensive machines to a commonplace

activity that today’s kids take for granted when they play a music

CD on their PC. As a published artist, Lansky also uses the Internet

to post information about the solo CDs of his work, and even to provide

sample clips for downloading. The Internet greatly increases the community

of people interested in his work. "I have contact with more people,"

he says, "significantly more." A recent work, "Dancetracks,"

with Steve Mackey, is downloaded around 300 times a week.

The Department of Music at Princeton also has been moving rapidly

to take advantage of Internet audio technologies to share information

and distribute faculty and student work to a much wider audience.

The department’s Web page not only provides the expected information

about the department, its staff, courses, and activities, but also

provides links to special collections of music information hosted

at Princeton.

Princeton’s Gregorian Chant Home Page, for example, was developed

to support advanced research on Gregorian chant, particularly for

the graduate seminar "Problems in Early Christian Music" taught

at Princeton.

Top Of Page
Peter Jeffery

Developed by Peter Jeffery, professor of musicology, it contains links

to Princeton course materials, as well as other chant research and

related sites. This popular site has won several "Web site of

the week" and "way cool site" awards, and was selected

as a resource for Discovery Channel School’s Great Books Program.

It attracts researchers interested in post-doctoral fellowships in

this area, and receives around 10,000 visitors a month.

For the more technically inclined, the Princeton music Web site contains

"lots of materials for students looking to study music," says

Lansky, "as well as links to on-line applications." The site

includes extensive material from current and recent Princeton courses,

and the Princeton Sound Kitchen, a collection of "home-made"

music software developed at Princeton that has been made publicly

available at no cost.

Beyond providing information, the Web also provides

the opportunity to distribute recorded music directly to users around

the world. In 1995-’96, Princeton published two CDs of music by Princeton

composers, which were made available for $5 to cover shipping and

handling. In December, 1998, Princeton held its first Princeton Sound

Kitchen Internet Radio Show, which broadcast music performances directly

over the Internet. No fuss, no muss, no shipping and handling, just

your music distributed directly to anywhere in the world. Princeton

has since held two more Radio Shows, in February and May.

Top Of Page
Real Audio

The power of Internet distribution permits you to both broadcast live

performances, and to archive them so other visitors can listen to

them later. Princeton uses the RealAudio format from RealNetworks

Inc. for compressing and transmitting audio sequences. Using the RealPlayer

software at your computer, you can receive "streaming" audio

or video material over the Internet, and hear (or see) it in real

time as it is received, instead of waiting to download a file before

you can play it. "RealAudio has been very encouraging for

us," says Lansky, "they keep our audio files on their site."

The Web pages for each Radio Show also provides links to each of the

five or six pieces that were performed during each hour-long show.

These are stored in RealAudio format, and also in the new MP3

format. MP3 is an abbreviation for MPEG audio, level 3, developed

by the Motion Picture Experts Group as part of a series of international

standards for video and audio compression, which are used on PCs (sometimes),

and in consumer products such as high-definition TV (HDTV).

The magic of the MP3 audio compression format is that it cuts down

the amount of data by a factor of 10, and yet still sounds quite good.

The compression algorithm takes into account knowledge about how the

human auditory system actually works, and removes sound information

that is less audible to the human ear. Music is stored on an audio

CD in uncompressed format, and can be copied to your PC in Microsoft

Windows Wave format. In uncompressed form, a stereo music clip requires

10 megabytes of data per minute, or 40 MB for a four-minute song,

which means you can fit a maximum of 16 songs on a 650 MB audio CD

disc. But with MP3 compression, songs only require 1 MB per minute,

or around 4 MB for a typical song (or even less if you give up a little

more quality by applying more compression).

At these sizes, it’s not difficult to copy and store music as digital

files. You can extract your favorite songs from CDs and burn a single

CD-ROM with 160 songs. Or you can download them to the new Diamond

Multimedia Rio MP3 Player, a small portable personal music player

which is like a Walkman, but with no moving parts, just computer memory

to store and play back your song collection. For around $200, you

can store 64 MB of songs, or up to 60 minutes of digital-quality music

and up to 12 hours of voice quality audio.

But, worst of all for the record companies, at these sizes it’s also

quite reasonable to post and download songs right over the Internet.

You can download a high quality four-minute song in around 20 minutes

over a good 50K modem connection, for just the cost of the phone call.

As a result, MP3 has taken the Internet by storm in the past year,

and kicked up a lot of fuss from the record companies as artists started

posting their own clips, and others posted bootleg copies of popular

tracks from new CDs. New sites like have sprung up to offer

independent musicians the opportunity to bring their music before

a broad audience, and even established artists have begun posting

samples. claims to have tens of thousands of clips available,

and has 200,000 visits a day.

Top Of Page
Secure Digital Music Initiative

The recording industry’s initial response to this threat has been

to go to court, but with mixed success. The Recording Industry Association

of America (RIAA) sued Diamond Multimedia over the Rio MP3 Player,

but lost the decision in federal court last month. has also

been threatened with legal action, but the recording industry is now

turning to industry groups such as the Secure Digital Music Initiative

to work out joint standards for selling and transmitting digital audio.

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers,

also recently announced a licensing agreement with, providing

royalties for downloaded music.

Even with all this turmoil, Lansky is "not pessimistic" about

the recording industry. "People will want their own music,"

he argues. "They like to have the CD box." Lansky has chosen

not to distribute his work through these mega Web sites. "I want

them all in one place, so I have control over them and can change

them." He was disappointed in an earlier experience with one of

the sites, which posted some "terrible" CD sound samples in

mono, giving an experience "like listening with one ear to AM

radio." At his own site, he can provide the larger context of

his work, so "people can know what I do," and he can provide

links to "CD liner notes, articles, and software".

Top Of Page
Paul Lansky

Lansky’s interest in music began at an early age. He

attended the High School of Music and Art and Queens College in New

York. He was headed towards a career as a French horn player, but

in his early 20s he decided that "I was as good as I was going

to get." Luckily, he had broader interests; his father was in

the recording industry, as manager for Capital Records in New York

City, so Lansky was able to visit and famous musicians like Count

Basie. As a result, he became interested in "the whole process

of recording," and particularly composition, which brought him

to Princeton as a graduate student in 1966.

Lansky became interested in digital music almost as soon as he came

to Princeton. The late 1960s were pioneering days, when they used

the one computer on the Princeton campus to generate digital music,

and then had to drive up to Bell Labs to hear the results, which were

"usually awful." By 1973 they had their own equipment, but

the process was still a struggle as they had to write tapes and carry

them over to a separate machine. By the early 1980s, he was working

full time on digital music, and has devoted most of his time to it.

Digital music is interesting to Lansky because you can "look inside"

music, you can "take microscopes to sound." His interest is

in "using sounds in musical ways," and "finding ways to

get computers to help tell us musically interesting things about the

world around us." His recent compositions have involved exploring

music derived from recorded sounds, finding music in the ebb and flow

of the sounds around us.

Lansky’s "Conversation Pieces" (Bridge Records, 1998) contains

"musical journeys in the company of familiar friends," building

on the sounds of a casual conversation or even the resonance of a

single piano note. In "Folk Images" (Bridge Records, 1995),

he works from familiar folk songs to develop his own personal perspective

about what he loves best about folk music. Earlier, in "Homebrew"

(Bridge Records, 1992), he works with the "mundane, everyday noises

of daily life," to make "the ordinary seem extraordinary,

the unmusical, musical." He found "implicit music in the `worldnoise’

around us," including night traffic, reading to children, and

Quakerbridge Mall.

The exciting aspect of digital music for Lansky is the control he

has over the whole process: "It can be manipulated without degree,

transferred, copied, edited." Digital music composition is "more

powerful and interesting," with the equivalent of "lots of

small wheels and buttons" for controlling the process in fine

detail. In addition, with digital audio, there is no inherent loss

as happens when transferring an analog tape to an LP record, in which

every step introduces noise and more degradation. Instead, "everyone

gets my original sound."

Lansky enjoys the feedback from maintaining his Web page. He "got

in very early, five or six years ago." He admits his pages are

"sloppy," done by hand, but he likes the sloppy look: "It’s

the feeling of a workshop, not a lawyer’s waiting room." He includes

links to CD stores selling his work, and posts clips of his pieces

and "teasers" of his new work to solicit responses. He also

checks the access logs to find out from where the pages are being


Links to the Princeton pages show up in unlikely places, particularly

when the links are generated by automated Internet search robots.

Recently, the search engines found the "Princeton" name and

indexed their pages under the artist formerly known as Prince. Lansky’s

"Fantasies and Tableaux" (CRI, 1994), based on a poem by Thomas

Campion, was indexed under "erotic fantasies."

"It’s a zoo," says Lansky, with "lots of activity."

The Internet provides a "good way for students to get their work

out there." With digital audio, the "spirit of the Internet"

is alive and well.

Princeton University Department of Music, Woolworth Center

of Musical Studies, 609-258-4241, fax 609-258-6793. Http://

The Gregorian Chant Home Page. Http://

Princeton Sound Kitchen. Http://

Paul Lansky, composition. Http://

RealNetworks Inc. Http:// Http://

Does your business have technology that is transforming our

lives? Send suggestions for this column to U.S. 1 Newspaper, 12 Roszel

Road, Princeton 08540, fax 609-452-0033, or E-mail

Top Of Page
Digital Copyrights?

Even as a composer at Princeton University tries to

leverage technology to make his music available to the widest possible

audience, a programmer for a Japanese firm is laboring on the opposite

side of the fence — to protect music from being digitally copied.

Walter J. Boyles used to belong to a wholly owned startup of Mitsubishi

Electronic America. Now that company has spun back into the Japanese

firm, is headquartered in Cypress, California, and is known as the

Mitsubishi Electronics America-Electronics Devices Group (MELA-EDG).

"We have a large group in Japan with some well-known people working

there," says Boyles, naming Mitsuru Matsui, the inventor of linear

cryptoanalysis and major techniques for breaking cryptomatic codes,

known as public key cryptography. He has a one-person office on Princeton-Hightstown


A native of Long Island, where his father was an attorney, Boyles

majored in electrical engineering at State University of New York

at Stony Brook, Class of 1981. He was brought on board to work with

security and encryption, then did a stint selling chips, but now works

on electronic copy protection on the Internet and elsewhere. "That’s

video and music, and we’re moving to electronic books. Anything that

is electronic is easy to copy — that’s the problem," says

Boyles, whose R&D efforts have resulted in some patent filings.

"Artists are trying to bypass the record companies and sell music

directly over the Internet. The new world of digital content will

be tough on existing industries if steps aren’t taken," says Boyles.

He names the CD player as "one of the great coups of all times.

You can put your CD in a player, rip tracks off of it, and post them

on the web. You have a channel of music distribution that is not paid

for. There is no way to secure something already out there in digital

form that has the decoder; the decoder is the CD player."

The "Secure Digital Music Initiative" was a cross company

effort funded by the record industry to combat such copying, he explains.

"When they formed SDMI in fall ’98, the statistic was that 90

percent of the MP3 files on the Internet were downloaded without royalties.

Whether it’s movies or print, people are concerned about royalty-free

copy. At SDMI ( they are striving diligently

to develop an alternative to mp3 that has a level of security to it."

Opposing the record companies, he notes, is the Electronic Frontier

Foundation, which does not want restrictions imposed on new content,

which it equates to free speech and free expression. "The music

and film industry would like to see royalties protected, but the appliance

industry would like to sell more players," summarizes Boyles.

"I don’t know what is going to happen."

— Barbara Fox

Mitsubishi Electronics America-Electronics Devices

Group (MELA-EDG), 379 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Building 3, Suite

11, Cranbury 08512. Walter J. Boyles, business development manager.

609-426-0095; fax, 609-426-0183.

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments