Astra project website

Computer-modelling project recreates sounds of ancient Greek harp

New Kerala

Washington, September 4 : A new computer-modelling project has been successful in recreating the sound of the harp-like Epigonion musical instrument from Ancient Greece.

Researchers associated with the project named ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) say that they have even performed one of the oldest known musical scores dating back to the Middle Ages.

The experts say that they achieved this fate by using the advanced GEANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT research networks to link high capacity computers together, and thereby sharing information to enable the computer-intensive modelling of musical sounds.

According to them, the knowledge of the Epigonion musical instrument, dating back from the Ancient Greek era, is based on archaeological findings, historical pictures and literature.

The researchers say that they transformed this archaeological data by a complex digital audio rendering technique to model the actual sound of the instrument, which created a virtual model of the instrument and reproduced the sound that the instrument might have made by simulating its behaviour as a mechanical system.

The Epigonion is a wooden string instrument that musicians have likened the sound to something similar to a modern harp or a harpsichord.

The ASTRA team say that they have thus far been successful in compiling the sounds of four Epigonion instruments to recreate a medieval musical piece.

They claim that it was all due to their efforts that these instruments have been heard performing together.

“This is an exciting project for us and for musicians and historians around the world. For the first time we can actually hear the musical sounds of the past, using modelling techniques rather than guesswork. Recreating the sound of the Epigonion instrument and the compilation of this musical piece is a great achievement and is the first step towards our goal of constructing a full orchestra in the future,” says Professor De Mattia, Director of the Conservatory of Music of Salerno and Co-ordinator of the ASTRA project.

“The combination of the high speed GeANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT networks and grid computing infrastructures provide the immense computing power vital for this exciting project. Previously the amount of computing power needed to recreate ancient music was unobtainable, but the use of high capacity research networks provides us with the ability to turn our research into reality,” says Dr La Rocca, Co-ordinator of ASTRA gridification.The physical modelling process needs extreme amounts of computing power, and it takes about four hours for a high-powered computer to correctly reproduce a sound lasting only 30 seconds.

To bring together sufficient power and to share information the ASTRA project is using the GILDA and EUMEDGRID grid computing infrastructures, which link computing resources across the Mediterranean at high speed (up to 2.5 Gbps) through the GeANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT research networks.

“The success of the ASTRA project demonstrates how high speed networking technology can underpin research collaboration across a wide range of subjects and allow the academic world to work together across multiple locations. This unique project is delivering a fascinating glimpse into the music of the past for the benefit of the students and researchers of today – we look forward to hearing more music as ASTRA develops,” said Dai Davies, General Manager, DANTE.

As regards the benefits of the collaborative approach used in this project, the researchers say that ASTRA not only makes it possible to recreate instruments that previously would have been either too expensive or too difficult to manufacture by hand, but it also allows any model and its associated data to be accessed by the collaborators.

They say that the research data can thus be shared around the world, making it a truly international project of immense value to working archaeologists and historians.

Introductory 3-hour Latin class in Phillipsburg

Warren Reporter

PHILLIPSBURG — Students at Saints Philip and James School geared up for the new school year by studying the classic language of Latin. Instead of enjoying the last hot and hazy days of summer right before the official start of school, students entered the classroom to participate in a three-hour Latin class.

“As Catholic educators, it is our mission to help each child reach his or her greatest potential both spiritually and academically. Offering Latin introduces our children to the connectivity of the romance languages,” said Principal Judy Francisco. “Hopefully this will inspire them to continue the study of foreign languages. Also, as they study the history of the Church, it will be exciting for them to recognize the Latin parts of the Mass.”

With only one week left of summer vacation, students opted to attend the class to jump-start the learning process. During the class, students were introduced to Latin spelling, vocabulary, and explored the similarities between English and Latin.

They also practiced numbers and played math games, all while speaking Latin.  “Latin helps students to increase their English vocabulary and develop grammar skills necessary for conversation and creative writing skills.  The language mechanics learned through Latin enable students to pick up foreign languages easily, as Latin is the basis for 5 foreign languages – French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish,” said their teacher, Donna Butler, the Latin teacher at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, and former Latin and Spanish teacher at All Saints Regional School (now Saints Philip and James School). Butler returned to her roots to teach the introductory three-hour class.

Besides the traditional Latin grammar and vocabulary lessons, students were also treated to stories of the Roman Empire and ancient Roman civilization.  “The culture of the Romans is exciting and interesting. Much of the architecture in the United States, and even our form of government, derives directly from the Roman Empire”, said Butler. “Latin has become increasingly popular due to the increased emphasis on grammar study in the U.S. I applaud Saints Philip and James School for their genuine interest in increasing the academic abilities of their students.”

Saints Philip and James School is a Catholic private co-educational school for students grades pre-K through 8. For more information about the school, call (908) 859-1244.

Arbeia children’s day

The Shields Gazette

CHILDREN from South Tyneside have been bobbing and weaving at a Roman fort.

The youngsters were shown how the Romans used to do their weaving by staff at Arbeia in South Shields.

The children made friendship bracelets, as well as being taught about this part of Roman life.

About 50 children attended the free event, organised by Tyne and Wear museums. Alexandra Vent, gallery interpreter at Arbeia, said: “It was hugely successful.

“The children enjoyed it, along with the parents and grandparents.”