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Old 11-27-2022, 10:26 AM   #1
BobertPlaysDrums
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Default Tips for having the best Ninjam experience

Hi all. BobertPlaysDrums here! I've been enjoying and playing on Ninjam since the pandemic started 3 years ago.

I don't know how active this forum is but I thought I'd compile a short list of tips for musicians who want to improve the quality of their Ninjams. These are things that work for me, a drummer playing with strangers in a virtual setting.

Please note that these tips are related to musicianship, not technical setup.


1. LEAVE SPACE

Ninjam is essentially a large rehearsal room with up to 8 people. This could be 3 guitars, 2 keyboards, 2 drummers, a bass player, or any combination in between. This has the recipe to get overwhelming quickly.

Sonically your ideas will punctuate better if they are clear, contain space and repeat often. Strive to 'add to the conversation' but not 'talk over everyone'.

Musically this could translate to leaving every 4th bar empty, playing a bass line with lots of room in it, etc. This is especially important at the start of the jam where the communal goal should be to establish chordal structure and rhythm.


2. REPEAT OFTEN AND CONSISTENTLY

Ninjam is naturally a cyclical program and because of this repetition is key. You may think playing the same beat or riff over and over is boring but it's actually valuable to establishing the foundation of the jam. This is good advice in real life jamming but even more so in Ninjam - because whatever you play is being heard 16 (or whatever BPI) bars later to everyone else.

Consider also that people are joining and leaving mid-jam - the more repetition the better for helping new players find their way in.


3. START ON THE 1

This may seem obvious but you'd be surprised how many jams have the downbeat in weird places. You can also get shifted off the 1 over time during long jams. I'm guilty of this myself.

Ninjam has a clearly defined 1. Periodically check the screen/listen to make sure your ideas are starting on it, and if they aren't you may want to do a reset to get everyone onboard. It makes everything easier.


4. LISTEN TO THE ROOM, PLAY TO THE CLICK

This may be the biggest challenge for most musicians on Ninjam. As a drummer I naturally want everyone to play to 'me', not the metronome. But in a virtual setting like Ninjam it's almost always more beneficial for the group if everyone is playing to the click. This is again because of BPI and the way sound is heard on a delay. It might've made musical sense in the moment to play a certain way, but that moment will be different for everyone else when they hear it next cycle.

To be clear I'm not saying you shouldn't lay back, play off the rhythm or have fun responding creatively. You can and should absolutely still do those things - but do so keeping the metronome in mind. This will improve time for everyone and with luck you'll eventually fall into a groove where ideas are flowing freely without getting off the time.


5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO MIX OR MUTE

Ninjam gives you tools to have some control over the mix of your jam. Use them! I'll frequently adjust click volume or increase the sound of a specifically strong player because they're helping me anchor the time. And although it may feel rude at first - don't be afraid to mute people completely if you find what they're doing doesn't add to the room. They have all the same controls on their end.

If you're in the middle of a jam but something doesn't feel right in your mix stop and take a moment to adjust. The music will still be there when you're ready to jump back in.


6. COMMUNICATE

A lot of people join rooms, say nothing, try to jump in, then get frustrated and leave when they can't get the chords right or the music isn't going the way they prefer.

While you absolutely don't have to communicate if you don't want, Ninjam has a perfectly functioning chat feature which I think more people should utilize. There's nothing wrong with saying 'Can someone share the chords?' or 'Can we try a different tempo?'. Leaving words of encouragement for others is especially nice and improves the mood of the whole room.


7. BE COURTEOUS TO EVERYONE

It goes without saying but be nice to everyone you play with, even if you don't like what they play. While the Ninjam community is generally very respectful, I've seen a few comments made about people's playing that is unhelpful or antagonistic. Saying "Hey ____, I think you might be out of tune" is perfectly fine, but saying "Hey ____, you are really bad and need to listen more" doesn't help anyone and only makes that person feel bad.

Be excellent to everyone always. We want to grow the community and attract more musicians.


I hope these tips help people to have the best jams they can. If you have more tips add them below. See you on Ninjam!
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Old 11-27-2022, 07:01 PM   #2
Rock Tribe
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There was a time when the forum was maybe more active, but I have been following it intermittently for 2-3 years, I have looked a little bit towards the past messages, unfortunately it is not very active anymore, but there may be those who still read it or those who will read it years later, so you have done a very useful thing, thank you on my behalf.

I agree with the tips you wrote to a great extent. In fact, I always apply them when we play together, this always makes the jams we do together very relaxing for me, so I can say that the tips work very well.

I just disagree on one important point. I mean, technically it is sometimes necessary to "mute" the people we play with, I can't object to that, but I think if everyone who plays in harmony says "what are you doing?" to the person who needs to be "mute", maybe the problem can be solved without the need for a mute.

The muting option is very wrong in this respect (I mean "if you don't like it, mute it"). The Ninjam system gives you the chance to broadcast your jams as radio at the same time. The ninbot site does this properly, and there are working stream links in other rooms. You can broadcast these links as live jamming streams. Or they can be listened to on ninbot. In both cases, the person we mute continues to be heard by outside listeners and becomes unlistenable after a while.

In other words, it is best to be able to convince that person when a mute is needed, but at the same time, using this option easily can leave us lacking in the search for a common sound. Sometimes even incompatible sounds can come to a certain harmony after a while. I think the mute option should be used for trolls or for those who persistently playing after explaining the situation.

Besides that, I think the biggest problem in ninjam is the sound balance. It is very important for everyone to keep the volume at -12db and check it (most easy way, a limitter in master channel). It would even be nice if this setting was done automatically by the reaninjam or jamtaba.

In other words, it is not useful to mix the sounds for ourselves, again because it is not heard that way from the outside. If it was possible I would like to have a person to adjust the mixes for each jam, or someone who is interested in this job to listen and say your volume is high, your volume is low, please adjust it, that would be great. That way we can also download and listen to automatic recordings without having to adjust them channel by channel again.

I describe ninjam as "music with mind sync". For that to happen, you have to enjoy playing with a metronome, with exceptions, please don't turn it off.

Another issue that is as important as being synchronized in rhythm is listening to other sounds, jamming is not possible without listening, but I think the more carefully we listen, the better it will be. When we try to integrate the sounds in our mind by listening, we reach the ideal stage. Playing only for the sounds in our own minds leads to solos that don't go anywhere and eventually to music that doesn't make any sense. Of course all this is imho and my tips

edit: I'm not sure if I should add this, but I wanted to. When we're playing in Ninjam, we have to say something, especially when there's a detune or something that's constantly out of tune. One day I said to someone "I wonder if your guitar is out of tune" and ... was very offended. Whereas if everyone had said that all this time, might have thought that there might be a problem. Our ears get used to discordant sounds after a while, but there has to be a limit. I have no intention of interfering with anyone's playing, but let's not be silent about distorted sounds
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Last edited by Rock Tribe; 11-27-2022 at 07:11 PM.
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