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AndrewCollins

Playing together across an internet connection

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Hello,

 

Just wondering whether anyone has any successful experiences of playing tunes with others across an internet link ( eg as per a skype chat ) ?

 

I suspect it's not possible ( or not cheap enough ) due to latency .... but as I'm busy removing sessions and playing groups from my diary I thought I'd ask ....

 

Andrew

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We tried something like it years ago with a group of bluegrass people and there was too much delay.. but keep in mind that this was in 2004 and internet connections are much better now. Maybe give it a try with a few people?

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Posted (edited)
Quote

keep in mind that this was in 2004 and internet connections are much better now.

 

Not in West Clare. Or at least in part, the fibre lines end about 3/4 of a mile up the road and won't be coming our way any time soon. Which, obviously, is infuriating, frustrating and all sort of other  things (hence the venting, sorry).

Edited by Peter Laban

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Posted (edited)

Good question. I'm pretty sure that tunes are impossible to play together on the web even with fibre lines attached. Latency is at about 1/2 second in my experience. That's about your average quarter note. In conversation, you hardly notice it, but for music, it makes playing tunes impossible. You run up against the speed of light limit, which is insurmountable given our current technology or any tech fix in the foreseeable future.

 

However, if you were to step outside the world of tunes, you could certainly play together as long as you take the latency delay into account for what it is. Spacey textural non-rhythmic music could work. Grooves could work too but bear in mind that if two people play together over the net, they will each hear the result differently. Interesting prospect. I've got to give it a try.

 

I give lessons over Skype. For the most part, I can hear what my students are playing, but the quality is pretty bad. Intelligible, but distorted. I wonder if there is a higher bandwidth platform that would sound better? Any ideas?

 

As for grooves and rhythmic playing... if multiple musicians were web playing together at the right tempo, something could be achieved I'm sure.  If the latency were 1/2 second that would mean a tempo of 120 bps. That's a nice speed to play at.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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Thanks for the thoughts.  Think I’ll do some experimenting .... will let you know what happens

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I'm really surprised at this, I'd have thought once the delay had been taken into account i.e. the call has started, it would be consistent?  I'm going to have to have a go...see if it works.

How did you get on Andrew?  Any joy?  What software were you using?

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2 hours ago, Mudchutney said:

I'm really surprised at this, I'd have thought once the delay had been taken into account i.e. the call has started, it would be consistent?  I'm going to have to have a go...see if it works.

 

It doesn't really work like that. You could have person A playing a beat and person B playing along in time with what they hear at their end, but if person A tries to listen to the sound coming back from person B it will seem like they are playing out of time due to the round trip delay. Add in more players and things get even more confused because each person's lag will be different.

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What you could possibly do is record a track, send it to a collaborator, have them record themselves playing along with it (in headphones), then mix the two together afterwards.

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I've had a little experiment with this - http://llcon.sourceforge.net ; but there is ( as pretty much expected ) too much latency on my internet connection here.  I have two computers here - and tested with one running the server and a client ; and the second computer running just a client ..... but bouncing the traffic out to my ISP and back in. 

 

I'll just stick to swapping sound file recordings with friends 

 

Thanks for the thoughts ....

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I'm investigating Zoom.us videoconferencing software. Still too much latency to make session-style playing work but should be good for singarounds (my particular interest here) or "playarounds". However there is a setting in its configuration that increases sound quality markedly. This video covers the topic:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50NoWIiYECA

 

Chris

 

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Oops! I forgot to post here that there is a similar thread active at the moment on melodeon.net.

It is here. Maybe you folks can swap ideas...

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/19/2020 at 11:32 AM, alex_holden said:

What you could possibly do is record a track, send it to a collaborator, have them record themselves playing along with it (in headphones), then mix the two together afterwards.

Harps North West are running a project (which they started before this latest little trouble sprang up, but has become more timely) in which people are invited to record themselves playing a few bars of Pachelbel's Canon, which will then be mixed together into a whole. That sounds like fun, but also quite a lot of work for someone, so I'm afraid I'm not going to volunteer tp do a concertina version.

Edited by Moll Peatly

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Chris Timson said:

I'm investigating Zoom.us videoconferencing software. Still too much latency to make session-style playing work but should be good for singarounds (my particular interest here) or "playarounds". However there is a setting in its configuration that increases sound quality markedly. This video covers the topic:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50NoWIiYECA

 

Chris

 

Thanks Chris! That is just the info I was looking for.

 

Sure, crisp playing and session tunes would be impossible, but there is lots of other music that could be accomplished by musically working with the latency delay to make some interesting things happen. I like complex poly-rhythmic music with a swirly echo thing going on. I think it might be interesting for multiple musicians to play that sort of thing. They would all hear it differently in their own local time but still be interactive. That could work well on Zoom.

 

I remember a few years back at the Clifftop Old-Time festival, I met two nice young folks on the road by my camp site. I asked if they would like to play. I was interested in what instrument would come out of the funny looking case... it was a baritone horn. That's like a little tuba. So we had a trio session with horn, fiddle and concertina. We sat down at my place and I asked what kind of tunes they liked to play. Surprisingly, they didn't want to play tunes at all, they wanted to blow free. OK with me, so that's what we did. A few snatches of tunes crept in anyway and there were some fun rhythm grooves. We played for 45 min. straight and had a lot of fun.

 

I have long been interested in trying this sort of thing on-line, but being short on time, I always chose to play music face to face. The current crisis with its demand for social isolation might be a good excuse to give this idea a go. This would be an opportunity for improvising musicians on any instrument who know and appreciate traditional music to experiment with employing that knowledge to create something new.

 

Who would like to join me for a free jam on Zoom?

 

I think that my first session should only have five players or less. If you want to join us it's best if you have a decent mic/audio interface, but an onboard computer mic and camera could work too. How about Sunday afternoon at 3 pm US EST, that's 7 in the UK?

 

 

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Posted (edited)

It's been an interesting experiment. What I found out... Zoom does not work for music, but there are a few sites that might do. I've been having lots of fun on JamKazam. Perhaps later I'll try also SoundJack. or also Jamulous.

 

I spent the past three hours on JamKazam tonight playing live music with a random bunch of folks from all over the world and had fun. It was sort of like a festival where new musicians would join unexpectedly and new influences would occur. Very cool!

 

To do this, I downloaded the JamKazam software and struggled to make it work with finally some success. First off is the hardware, you need headphones, a fast internet connection, a mic on a stand plugged into an audio interface and then on to your computer. These are all off the shelf items that are generally available where you buy your music supplies.

 

Then also, the best way  to make this work is to be plugged directly with an ethernet cable from your router into your computer. I was not, and relied on wifi to make the connection. Wifi worked ok, but was glitchy. My new JamKazam friends assured me that a cable connection was superior, was the way to go and would solve my problems. So I'll get that hooked up for my next session.

 

Until I do, my take on internet playing was that it holds great promise for enjoyment. My friend Cindy and I set up our JamKazam session to test this thing out. We encountered and overcame many difficulties as we figured out how to get good sound quality with both of our various set ups. Our session progressed. Along the way, various random folks joined us to jam because I had set it up as an open jam. Perhaps I should have kept it private, but who knew? In the end, Cindy and I got a good sound and met a number of folks from all over the globe who were eager to join us to play. The social networking bit was very interesting, folks joined and left the session continuously and this was a big part of the JamKazam pleasure of this, our first JamKazam experience.

 

For example: Oh yeah, here comes Jake on bass... "Hi Jake, where are you from?" ... like that.

 

Along the way, I actually played the blues in A with a few folks for a bit... and it sounded almost plausible. Not quite, but almost. Exactly where the beat sits is open to interpretation but if you think of that as a feature then it stops being annoying. Perhaps using that cable instead of wifi will help me with the inevitable time delay inherent in this platform. Until my 50 foot eathernet cable comes in the mail, I'm still enthused and have enjoyed many JamKazam sessions and keep coming back for more... because it's so much fun!

 

Stay well,

Jody

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Jody Kruskal said:

 

To do this, I downloaded the JamKazam software and struggled to make it work with finally some success. First off is the hardware, you need headphones, a fast internet connection, a mic on a stand plugged into an audio interface and then on to your computer. These are all off the shelf items that are generally available where you buy your music supplies.

 

Jody

 

Thanks for smoothing the path for all of us, Jody!

 

How fast exactly is your broadband line? I couldn't find exact numbers for JamKazam's requirements. In our rural area of the planet, we need to make do with 6M/s. Sufficient enough for most videos, but will real time jamming work with it?

 

Thanks!

 

Edit: I believe I found the answer on https://www.jamkazam.com/landing/jamclass/teachers .

 

There is a list of system requirements as well as a link to Ookla's speed measurement utility which reports 1,7M upload speed (500k are required), so in theory it should work. Now all I need is an OS that supports both JamKazam and my external sound card...

Edited by RAc

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Something you could do is to have a session of the type "play for each other" one person at a time. You share your tune when the others listen. We did something like it years ago, on Yahoo groups with a bunch of bluegrass lovers. It was good fun and very inspiring. Not like a normal session but could still be fun, to share tunes and songs with each other. 

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I’ve also been trying to find a way of musicians playing together from home, and have written up a two-page essay on the subject, particularly concerning latency, Zoom, and avoiding concertinas being interpreted as background noise and suppressed.  –  you can read it at https://pghardy.net/greenshoots/virtual/virtual_music_sessions.html.

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