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Grid computer recreates ancient Greek lute

Geeks go Greek

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Researchers have harnessed the awesome power of grid computing to answer one of the great mysteries facing mankind: what exactly does an epigonion sound like?

At the risk of stating the obvious, an epigonion is a stringed instrument plucked by the ancient Greeks, and there aren't many around these days. To recreate the sound, a model of the instrument was built up from pictures and archaeological evidence, and this data was fed into ASTRA - Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application - which creates the sound.

Obviously modelling the sound requires a massive amount of computing power - about four hours of processing using both GILDA and EUMEDGRID grid computing infrastructures is needed to produce 30 seconds of music.

Dr La Rocca, co-ordinator of ASTRA, said in a statement: "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."

Hopefully ASTRA will be able to model other instruments, otherwise one can't help wondering if it might have been quicker to just knock up a real epigonion and have a strum, though that wouldn't have been nearly so much fun.

The resulting sound is depressingly similar to that played at the end of Four Winds Mah Jong, but an mp3 is available to those interested. It's probably safe to say the tune is beyond copyright by now. ®

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