Latency tops technology challenges for online Arabic Music Ensemble

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By Farah Salameh

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Latency, the lag time in audio during online classes, is the biggest challenge to running the American University of Sharjah’s Arabic Music Ensemble during the COVID-19 pandemic, its director noted in a Feb. 28 email.

Assistant Professor Dr. Albert Agha added that other drawbacks for the choir include a lack of audience feedback and their own group physical presence. However, he noted that in multi-track recordings of their work, they do take their time to perfect and produce every song. 

In choir sessions, Agha said, students layer their voices on top of one another individually using a type of software called a DAW (digital audio workstation) which has many types of platforms such as Garageband and Audacity. 

Choir groups haven’t been active on campus since COVID 19 closed AUS in March, 2020, Agha said, adding the program was also affected by a faculty member leaving last semester. Arabic Music Ensemble is the only available choir group this semester; its members are preparing to perform during the Engineering Honor Society event this month. 

Agha added that there is a high interest in the Performing Arts Program among students, and hopes it will be able to expand in the future.