NINJAM – online jamming

Community Jams is committed to helping people play music together.  We believe that there is special value to be found in sharing music live with one another. While distance and disease keep us from sharing as closely as we used to, we have ways of sharing forms of music which many have found valuable.   

Thanks to the work of Robert Steele, Community Jams has a workable distance-music option to offer.

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NINJAM is the name of an internet protocol which takes what everybody plays, waits one musical phrase, and then shares it.  Since even telephone latency precludes making music together, a decade ago a protocol was developed which adds enough latency to everybody’s internet-musical contribution to make sure all parts start together the next go around.  In essence, you’re always playing against what everybody played last round.  Everybody generates everybody else’s backing track live, using a metronome to keep us synched.


We host online NINJAM sessions where community members can play along with others, playing against what everybody played last go-around, and semi-live sharing our music. Starts and stops are ragged due to everybody being offset one phrase, but the middle-section of each song gets quite solid  

You can set short phrases or long phrases, but you’re always stuck behind a phrase. So, while NINJAM is useful for contributing to a latency-live musical piece like rounds, blues, and simple chord patterns, it has limitations and requirements.

These sessions require an audio interface to be set up on your home computer. It is suggested that your computer be hard-wired to your router via an ethernet cable.  

Once your interface is recognized by your computer, the solution we’ve found works best is to download REAPER, a digital audio workstation. After installing REAPER on your computer, you can procure a temporary license during the pandemic on their website. Follow the procedure in the video link provided to set up a REAPER with a NINJAM client in the FX channel to access the internet and our NINJAM server online during our sessions.
If you wish, you may download the standalone client app JAMTABA, but support for this is unavailable for those who are unable to get it to function.
Community Jams hosts weekly Zoom sessions to answer simple questions and simultaneously help verify NINJAM connection attempts to Bob Steele’s virtual server online. 

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It is our hope to help other musical communities find a solution to keep their music going during this time of forced distance until we may all safely share air, space, and song again. Until then, Robert’s work setting up a virtual NINJAM server online has helped us find a way to connect our musical contributions in offset-real time.

If you are interested, send an email to play@communityjams.org so you can join Community Jams during a NINJAM session online and share your music!