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Justin Frankel (the creator of Winamp) has a new project called Ninjam. He announced it here today and it’s extremely cool.

Ninjam allows two or more people to jam through the net with real audio (no MIDI goofiness like past internet jamming software). It’s like Skype for musicians, though the music is delayed a few measures to keep everything in sync. You plug your instruments in, the software provides a beat. Then you find out what a crappy guitar player you are.

I had a chance to play around on Ninjam with Justin last night and it worked great. No masterpieces were made — though I got to lay down my brand new crappy guitar tapping skills — but the potential is amazing. And while we we were messing around with guitar and bass, I assume there’s no reason you can’t feed any audio source into there. So it could be keyboards, could be vocals, or it could be copies of Ableton Live jamming together.

I’m told a GUI is being worked on and a release is coming soon. I can’t wait.

Posted on - June 7, 2005 [at] 9:43 am by Brad
Tagged in - ,

27 Comments on this post

Heuristics Inc. on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 7, 2005 at 11:19 am

fantastic!
definitely post again when it’s available, ok, brad?
-bill

Justin on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 7, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Actually the software itself only provides a metronome, the drums can be provided by any client (drum machine or live player :).. And unlike Skype, Ninjam requires a central server with some bandwidth.. :)

CharlieH on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 7, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Embracing the net latencies and syncing to measures makes total sense … this is going to be fun. Isn’t it curious though how every participant’s experience of the resulting jam will sound different because of the different delays? Even the central server will “hear” a different version of the jam than any of the participants.

Hey, how about sending out a MIDI clock to sync Ableton and other gear to along with an audio metronome? (Or are you already doing that?)

thecat on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 8, 2005 at 4:18 am

I imagined this working like this:

Low bitrate stream goes out, broadcast amung those in the jam

High bitrate gets saved locally to by synced up later.

Guess he was going for something different…

hibiscusroto on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 8, 2005 at 7:19 am

very cool…how about [insert idea here]?

jacen jungle on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 8, 2005 at 10:15 am

this is insane, i ef wanna hear more,,,,,,,

mike b on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 8, 2005 at 12:10 pm

This absolutely rocks.

Another outlet uniting garage-based, aspiring rock star, songwriting, music geeks. Who needs human contact? :) Thanks, Brad.

-mike b
GarageSpin.com

Trey Harrison on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 8, 2005 at 10:06 pm

This technology is inherently flawed. If you can’t react to what your friends are playing when they play it, you’re not playing “together”, you’re playing at the same time and the computer is trying to make it seem like you’re playing “together” when you really arent. Justin Frankel should quit messing around and announce his new software that “writes music for you!” – it would generate much more web traffic.

BloggerRuggles on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 9, 2005 at 10:53 am

I guess I don’t quite understand how this works. A bunch of people conference together on Skype, along with a central server to coordinate their inputs. There’s network latency as noted in other comments, which the server accomodates. So a piece of software at each site sits on the user-side of Skype injecting a time signal into that person’s data stream to the server, which matches all the time signals together. I get that.

What I don’t understand is how you make the mind-jump from what you’re hearing – possibly including your own input – to the next note/chord/bash you need to sing/play/pound.

Assuming everyone’s on broadband, you’d still have a worst-case round trip of about a quarter of a second or so. So you either turn off the speaker and sing/play/pound on faith, or keep the speakers on and be aware that (1) everything you’re hearing happened quarter of a second ago, and (2) everything you sing/play/pound will not be heard for another quarter of a second.

But like I say, maybe I’m missing something.

Alan Glueckman on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 9, 2005 at 5:03 pm

Here at eJamming, Inc, we’ve created real time multi-musician jamming over the Internet, in sync, even over 3000 miles (or eastern US to Europe). We’re about to launch our Early Adopter Testing the end of June and people are signing up to test. You can catch our demo at http://www.ejamming.com/ejammingmovie.html,
and get an explanation of what we do at
http://www.ejamming.com/whatsejamming.html
Hope you’ll try eJamming(TM) and see what real time music collaboration over the Internet can really be like.

Heuristics Inc. on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 10, 2005 at 11:14 am

ejamming looks like it’s only general midi sounds. that’s totally different from the software described above.
-bill

Justin on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 10, 2005 at 12:37 pm

NINJAM web site is up, http://www.ninjam.com . Software will be up next week (some server setup, though no subscription required)

dj slap on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 11, 2005 at 8:39 pm

Midi ‘goofiness’? I guess these guys want to downplay the importance of midi by calling the prior arts on which their technology lies as ‘goofy’. Very good, now go produce a CD without using any midi anywhere and let’s see how far you get.

Too bad the average computer user thinks of nintendo music when they think midi, and not as a protocol for carrying bits. It allows for morons like the author to capitalize on misunderstanding.

I’ve got a better idea, since your sync is going to be off you might as well have your guys sit down with metronomes of their own, record to a higher quality than this garbage, and post their resulting WAV files to a repository for the guy in charge of mixing to handle. Otherwise, you aren’t getting anything accomplished that you couldn’t have before with voip and some speaker phones.

Justin on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 14, 2005 at 5:24 pm

Dear DJ Slap,

Your distinction between the article’s author’s comments and that of the developers is lacking.

Ultimately I think the author was trying to compare the idea of jamming with actual sound vs. control signals.

Finally, NINJAM supports saving the full quality samples, so if you have a good time, you can remix a jam (editing as necessary) from the original PCM source, for a full quality mix. Though the OGG Vorbis compressed material sounds pretty decent as well (definitely NOT garbage).

Just quit bitching about stuff you haven’t seen/tried, since obviously you don’t get it.

-J

Insomniak on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
June 15, 2005 at 7:19 pm

Cool idea, Im going to have to try this out.

Won’t be the same as having the people in the same room but could be interesting.

Unique limitations (such as the time delay) can also provide creativity and inspiration not normally found when working in more predictable ways.

Colin Laird on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
July 14, 2005 at 10:03 am

I agree. This thing looks interesting and could be just as important as midi was for isolated synths n drum machines. Think how much music changed as a result of sound generating devices being synced up to a sequencer via the midi standard. Here we have sound generating humans linked together and (hopefully) a resurgence of improvisation and originality in music.

Alan Glueckman on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
August 20, 2005 at 2:25 pm

If you want to try out real time jamming over the Internet, now you can. We put the Early Adopter test version of the eJamming Station for the Mac up yesterday (the PC version is coming in mid-September). Ypu can sign up, download the software for a free trial and start eJamming now! Just want to let everybody know that this is still in beta, so expect some bugs and not all functions are fully enabled today, but we’ll be releasing new builds each week.
Hope to see you in the eJamming Venues!

David Ø - UniGTR+ Center on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
September 6, 2005 at 5:15 pm

… hey sounds “interesting” .. look 4ward and keep an ear on it

David Ø - UniGTR+ Center on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
September 6, 2005 at 5:23 pm

re: 1st post and demo from Brad …

… cool flangy fade-out …

D

Another Justin on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
February 27, 2006 at 1:45 pm

Ive been using ninjam for some weeks now, and i must say its a god send, my playing has improved, and its great to be able to play with people from all over the globe. as for the latency, well its wierd at first but when you get used to it you dont think about it.

Latency an issue on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
November 13, 2006 at 4:30 am

Surely it’s technically possible to transmit and listen in real-time? Especially on fast internet connections??

Perhaps it has something to do with compressing the audio?? I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect good musicians to have to put up with a delay between when they hit the string and when they hear the sound…

If they could get it in real time it would be really great..

Heuristics Inc. on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
November 14, 2006 at 2:27 pm

You hear your own music in real time (as long as your soundcard doesn’t have too much latency) but your compatriots jamming in other places will be delayed to your ears. They on the other hand will hear themselves in real time and you will be delayed.
And no, it’s not really possible to do real-time over the internet. Still. Even small delays are noticeable in sound.
-bill

The Chairman on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
December 30, 2007 at 1:57 am

Ninjam seems fun in principle, with the following caveats:

1. After listening to about twenty of the “archived” jams, I’ve come to the conlcusion that it all sounds pretty much like “porno film” music — one chord for forty-five minutes, with a lot of clunky not-quite-on aspects. This could definitely be fun — if kept in proper perspective.
No, you’re not going to be able to create very detailed or structurally-complex stuff as far as chord changes or actual melody-lines or suchlike, but it does have a fun, order-from-chaos kind of vibe to it.

2. If you DO want to do some sort of more “serious” type of collaboration, there’s already a lot of people putting stuff like that together using sites like soundclick, for example. There’s a bunch of people on there calling themselves “the collaborators” who upload tracks, and then have other people send in their additional tracks, etc. — up to the point of creating a final mixdown — a “virtual group” where nobody has actually ever been in physical proximity. So no, I don’t think it’s “either/or” here.

Ninjam sounds like fun — hafta grab me a copy. :)

AndyMc on Ninjam – Skype for musicians
August 21, 2008 at 9:44 am

Another thing NINJAM has become great for is a training tool, the amount my abilities have improved since using it is hundreds of pecent more.

I’m a Keys player and I’ve always worked on trying to make synth instrument’s sound like a real instrument. This learns you real instruments from others playing them as well as where they should fit in the music.

Thats 2 Massive Programs Justin has made, Wimamp and now NINJAM. :D

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