NINJAM network jam session

Last Friday night the inaugural lines/Disquiet Junto Ninjam occurred. @pirxthepilot hosted myself, @mzero, @bellyfullofstars, and @ikjoyce. An amazing time was had by all. Sincerely, it works far better than I ever could have imagined. Two west coasters, one east coaster, someone from London, and someone from Indonesia. There were moments when it felt like we were all in the same room. One of the best parts was the wild variety of instrumentation the five of us brought to the experience. I can’t think of any other network music technology that would allow for all that diversity.

We learned some things.

Levels

Set your NINJAM client channel level to 0db, and then make sure the mix you’re sending into the channel is peaking at -12db. We all tried to intuitively mix by ear (mainly using the dynamics of our instruments) and while it sounded incredibly good to each of us, when we played back the recordings we were all unpleasantly surprised at how uneven our levels were. So, until we’re all doing this by heart, we need to keep an eye (not an ear) on the levels. As we gain experience I imagine we’ll learn more about how different setups can mislead you on how you’re mixing in.

Timing

The way NINJAM works, everybody shares a BPM and a BPI. We had the defaults set, which are 120BPM and 8BPI. What each person hears is the prior interval from everyone else. So, in our case, what we were hearing from everyone else was always 8 beats behind what we were playing. While it’s incredibly confusing to think about, in practice it turned out to be no big deal at all. We electronic musicians are already pretty used to thinking in 2-4 bar loops, and everything just sort of naturally synced up without anybody really having to try to make it so. It just works.

Listening

I think one of the reasons it worked so incredibly well is because we all brought with us an attitude of focused listening as well as care and concern for the ensemble. Nobody tried to grandstand. We were in it for each other.

Clients

There are a lot of different NINJAM clients. The official NINJAM client won’t compile for Intel Macs. Expert Sleepers has a 32-bit plugin that may work (not really sure about that one). Ninjam JS appeared to work at first, but turned out to not be very reliable and also a complete CPU hog. Reaper has a native plugin that works very well. That’s what we all ended up using last Firday. But since then we’ve all been experimenting with a plugin called JamTaba and it works great (except it is 64-bit only). I recommend JamTaba if you use a 64-bit DAW already. Otherwise, try Reaper.

http://jamtaba-music-web-site.appspot.com

Servers

@pirxthepilot hosted us on his desktop computer. Since then @mzero and I have set up more permanent servers. You can connect to mine at beepboop.fm, port 2049. Use a username, but no need for a password. In JamTaba, that looks like this:

The public servers can also be amazing. Today (Sunday) there was a nice ambient/noise jam from 11-1 Pacific time. There have been incredible jazz jams off an on every time I’ve checked. All of the NINJAM clients list the public servers, and JamTaba will even let you listen in on channels before you join. You can also listen in on public servers at http://ninbot.com

Events

I’d love to schedule a regular lines/Disquiet Junto NINJAM session. Or maybe two or three. It makes sense to set them at times that are agreeable to participants’ time zones, so it might be necessary to have more than one regular session to achieve that. Please leave comments with your general availability for such a thing, so that we can gauge the best times for scheduled jams.

That’s all for now, can’t wait to jam with you!

14 Likes

Sweet,
Waiting to get a new account up and running. Fun fun!

Just FYI, the ninbot account is for the ninbot forums. You don’t actually need to “create” an account to join a ninjam. You just give it a user name when you join.

I’ll also mention that ninbot emails were going straight into Spam for me, so you might look there if things are taking too long.

hmmmm i had a screen name and i entered a room. I couldn’t route live into JamTaba though. The only inputs that dropped down where my internal mic? My steinberg interface showed up under the midi drop down but not the audio input dropdown?

Edit: Think I figured it out.

Just got the ninjam server on beepboop.fm:2049 daemonized, so it should stay up from now on.

I just stick JamTaba on my Master track in Live. I can help you troubleshoot if you want to tell me when.

We’ve been using the Disquiet Slack as a chat space to sort a lot of this stuff out in. You can contact @disquiet if you’re interested in joining the Slack.

1 Like

great! Yeah I wasn’t using JamTaba as a plugin correctly before. Got it going right I think. I’ll be joining some jams for sure. Gotta go out at the moment though. Thanks!

1 Like

This is so great. And email me, folks, at marc@disquiet.com for Junto Slack invite.

Are there any alternatives for mac osx 32 bit?
Thank you

Use the Expert Sleepers plugin or Reaper with 32-bit OS X.

1 Like

Looking a the score for Riley’s “In C” - and I think this was MADE for Ninjam… it requires a regular pulse throughout for strict timing, is made of repeating segments, and it doesn’t matter that we each hear something slightly different during the performance, as it was designed to work that way. Anyone up for trying this out at some point? http://www.mtrs.co.uk/subscriptions/Downloads/minimalism_OK/in_C.pdf

5 Likes

We’re going to do this! 10am pacific time this Sunday at beepboop.fm port 2049!

Terry Riley calls for 35 performers (it will work with fewer as well) so please join us! And holler if you want to rehearse a bit ahead of time with someone, we will make it happen.

2 Likes

Here’s another score, as well as an Ableton Live set that simulates a performance.

We are thinking about rehearsing this Friday night.

Something of note not referenced in the score - apparently for patterns 22 to 26, the dotted crotchets (quarter notes) are often played as three quavers (8th notes) instead. Possibly as an aid to keeping time with the 8th note pulse (or enhancing it), I guess.

1 Like

^ Thank you for this.

1 Like

You are very welcome. I can’t describe how excited I am about trying it out!

2 Likes

Pretty sure I’m in, although Sunday is Mother’s day and we’ve got some hikes planned so it’s possible I’m out. However, even if I don’t make it - really happy to have a copy of the In C score, have listened to it for years in various forms but never read the actual instructions. They’re very warm and encouraging. If I can’t make it Sunday, I’m for sure going to do something with the score on my own.

2 Likes

We’re also going to rehearse Friday night and you are more than welcome to join then, either to play or just to listen (and maybe laugh, heh, we’ll see).

1 Like

I really wish I was musically trained so I could take part. Not a music reader though. Maybe someday.

@jasper_ryder perhaps you would find some inspiration in this Live set version of the piece?

I did read this. I’ll have to listen to it!