Live music collaboration and Covid19

bcarwell

Senior Member
I am trying to help a friend who teaches voice at a small university here in Texas. Because of the social distancing she is having to conduct her voice classes over the internet. She has tried Zoom, Skype, etc., but the problem is she accompanies the voice student from her piano at home sent to the student's home, who sings along with her accompaniment and sends back the results over the internet. But the lag in the loop and lack of sync makes the learning situation really pathetic. Apparently the school's I.T. department is asleep at the switch or whatever, as I would have expected they were on top of it. But perhaps the issues are less critical for simple lecture-student question applications.

I just saw a Youtube just today of Ringo et al doing a collaboration thingie cutting to various locations where other musicians were adding to the mix in real time, and the end product mix and videos were in perfect sync.

Could somebody tell me the most inexpensive and effective vehicle for accomplishing such collaboration with no or little annoying lag. In this case a voice teacher playing piano in her home sent to her student who sings with the received accompaniment and sends back live to her the combination of teacher piano and student voice with piano and voice in sync and little or no lag at the teacher's home.

I'm sure there are many musicians hunkered down now trying to do just that.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

All the best, Bob
 

David Kudell

Active Member
I was just about to post this same question. Was wondering if anyone knows the best way to jam with others, I'd love to do a jam session with my uncles who are in another state.
 
OP
B

bcarwell

Senior Member
Glad I've got at least one bite to keep the thread alive. I would think it would be a real hot topic right now for musicians ! Funny (err... maybe NOT) I never payed attention to the live collaboration stuff that was going on before and thought it was just a novelty/curiosity until we actual need it now..

Anybody, anybody ???

Bob
 

David Kudell

Active Member
True, and a Google search doesn't reveal any big players, making me wonder if it's even possible...maybe the lag is too bad. I tried using Zoom and it was no good.
 

Stringtree

Active Member
Speed of light, but there’s too much cumulative system latency for live jamming. What’s acceptable in a DAW, what, 10 ms?

cmd.exe
ping www.example.com Try all sorts of websites, it’s fun.

There will be a value returned in ms. 1000 milliseconds is one second.

Ever try talking into a stadium sound system? Quickly get (quickly) out(get out) of (of) sync with (sync) your (with) self (your. self).

😀
 

Virtual Virgin

Active Member
Just remember that for tight performances you will need to limit your range. Live playing from coast to coast is pretty much impossible due to the RTL (round trip latency). You are (theoretically) limited by the speed of light running though perfectly straight fiber optics. NY to California will net you about 400ms round trip so that's a no go. Most music will get choppy after only 15-20ms delay.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
I’ve done quite a lot of research on sound routing with Zoom. I haven’t had to deal with latency.

In terms of sound you send the best if you have original sound on and you use the zoomaudiodevice as an output from a DAW. The second best solution is to share computer sound. But it seems whatever routing you use in your computer, latency would still be a major issue since it won’t arrive close to instantaneously at the destination. This latency is acceptable in conversation but likely not for this kind of accompanying.
 

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
I have a friend who is particularly enthusiastic about online jamming, and is always bouncing ideas off me as to how to make it work.

The best idea we've been able to come up with would involve some form of controlled rhythm-based latency. In other words, making use of latency in a musical way. This would require artificially imposing latency based on tempo. So for example, player A would start playing, and player B's computer would buffer one measure's worth of music before making it audible to player B, who would then start adding adding his/her contribution, which would get fed back to player A at a musical time interval. Something like this would probably only work with repeating cyclical chord progressions.

But I'm no engineer, and this is pure theoretical daydreaming...
 

Jazzaria

New Member
I have a friend who is particularly enthusiastic about online jamming, and is always bouncing ideas off me as to how to make it work.

The best idea we've been able to come up with would involve some form of controlled rhythm-based latency. In other words, making use of latency in a musical way. This would require artificially imposing latency based on tempo. So for example, player A would start playing, and player B's computer would buffer one measure's worth of music before making it audible to player B, who would then start adding adding his/her contribution, which would get fed back to player A at a musical time interval. Something like this would probably only work with repeating cyclical chord progressions.

But I'm no engineer, and this is pure theoretical daydreaming...
So, this actually exists almost exactly - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninjam

Included w/Reaper by default - https://www.cockos.com/ninjam/

And with an alternate client/plugin with some newer development - http://jamtaba.com

You'll see me on in random rooms, as Jazzaria, usually playing fiddly synthesizers :)
 
OP
B

bcarwell

Senior Member
For those interested, for fun Google "jamkazam". I have just discovered there is much on the subject of virtual jamming including threads on Gearslutz, etc. Lots of talk, including whether it is possible to keep latency below 25ms, but have not yet found the silver bullet. Was even a live jam at SXSW here in Austin with 6 bands- search YouTube. Apparently Jamkazam even had a crowd funded piece of hardware addressing the subject (https://www.jamkazam.com/) but I cannot find any more information on it. To quote my kids in the backseat, "Are we THERE YET" ????
 

Jazzaria

New Member
I've tried JamKazam, and will keep an eye on Endlesss, but I'd emphasize what some of the earlier posts said - the speed of light is the limit here. The fine print for JamKazam is their successful use cases are all people who live in the same geographic locale - as in, within maybe a few hundred miles of each other at most (and ideally a lot less - like, same city/metro).

If that describes your use case, plus you're willing to tune your audio system and local network latency (buying their gadget is a quick but not inherently necessary way to do this), then yes it can work reasonably well it seems. If your goal is more world-wide (or even country-wide, for most countries) jamming, then there is no technical solution - the speed of light is what it is, and you *need* to use an offset-sync style solution (e.g. Ninjam/Jamtaba).

And re: those offset-sync solutions, since I do use them - the end result highly varies. You can check out an example here (I'm the flamboyant fiddly synthesizer soloing over things) -

Code:
https://archive.org/details/ninjam_autosongs_20200322/20200322_0541_2342-SlyRy-Jazzaria-kark-xxdiiikk.mp3

(Sharing as code because it's actually a website not really an MP3, and the forum embedding is breaking the link.)
You vote/agree on the length of the phrase and the BPM (e.g. 16, 100bpm). Then it just loops (with optional metronome - but please use it, unless there's a reliable drummer/drum machine), and you always hear whatever everybody else did last phrase - so it's on the musicianship of those involved to actually sync up.

Typically this means it gets settled on a simple 1-2 chord modal jam - which I can get into :2thumbs: but isn't everyone's cup of tea. *Rarely* you'll end up with long enough phrases and coordinated enough musicians to do longer form things (e.g. 64 beats, enough to do a "song"), but even then what needs to happen is all the "accompaniment" needs to play through completely before it gets really set for melody/solos. The best jams usually happen when there's at least one person savvy to set up a drum machine and/or looped phrase, to keep it going reliably (as in the example linked above), or a good live drummer and/or bass player.

And as in most places, there's one too many guitarists :) and occasionally aspiring vocalists and the like. You can of course switch virtual rooms, coordinate to be in the same room as your buddies, and people are generally nice and considerate. There's text chat to plan/just chat, and if somebody really is disruptive you can mute them (though each person in the room makes that decision individually, there is no single moderator).

I've found it to be an acceptable way to blow off some steam, not entirely unlike late night jams from earlier days. Don't go in expecting a hip jazz club or a bunch of rock covers (though sometimes the guitarists go for that, with mixed results...) - but if mostly modal jams are your thing, and you can tolerate some noise, oddities, and experimentation, then give it a shot!

:emoji_metal:

(PS - guitarists play in E too much ;) so go in prepared for that too.)
 
Last edited:

MartinH.

Senior Member
Afaik everything that applies to gaming latency also applies here. Meaning you should use a wired connection instead of wifi, if possible. And the latency grows with the distance between the two computers. Getting below 25ms seems not very likely to me. The encoding/decoding probably also adds some latency because of how the data is chunked up into packages. Definitely try someting tailor made for online jamming over the common VOIP solutions.