The Official/Unofficial Ninbot/Ninjam FAQ
What is Ninbot
What is Ninbot
Ninbot is a server which allows musicians to play together, record, and broadcast live on the internet. Using a program called Ninjam, users are immersed in a high fidelity sychronized music session where they can interact and jam with other musicians in real time.
What is Ninjam
NINJAM is a program to allow people to make real music together via the Internet. Every participant can hear every other participant. Each user can also tweak their personal mix to his or her liking. NINJAM is cross-platform, with clients available for Mac OS X and Windows.
NINJAM uses compressed audio which allows it to work with any instrument or combination of instruments. You can sing, play a real piano, play a real saxophone, play a real guitar with whatever effects and guitar amplifier you want, anything. If your computer can record it, then you can jam with it (as opposed to MIDI-only systems that automatically preclude any kind of natural audio collaboration1).
How does NINJAM work?
NINJAM uses OGG Vorbis audio compression to compress audio, then streams it to a NINJAM server, which can then stream it to the other people in your jam. This architecture requires a server with adequate bandwidth, but has no firewall or NAT issues. OGG Vorbis is utilized for its great low bitrate characteristics and performance. Each user receives a copy of other users audio streams, allowing for each user to adjust the mix to their liking, as well as remix later. This uses more bandwidth than having a server encode a single stream, but has numerous benefits (including lower server CPU use and the client having the full multichannel data for later use).
NINJAM can also save all of the original uncompressed source material, for doing full quality remixes after the jam.
Since the inherent latency of the Internet prevents true realtime synchronization of the jam2, and playing with latency is weird (and often uncomfortable), NINJAM provides a solution by making latency (and the weirdness) much longer.
Latency in NINJAM is measured in measures, and that's what makes it interesting.
The NINJAM client records and streams synchronized intervals of music between participants. Just as the interval finishes recording, it begins playing on everyone else's client. So when you play through an interval, you're playing along with the previous interval of everybody else, and they're playing along with your previous interval. If this sounds pretty bizarre, it sort of is, until you get used to it, then it becomes pretty natural. In many ways, it can be more forgiving than a normal jam, because mistakes propagate differently.
Part tool, part toy, NINJAM is designed with an emphasis on musical experimentation and expression.
How to Listen
Checkout Live Streams
The ninbot server currently broadcasts 3 streams.
You can listen to these using mp3 players on most computers.
There are also web pages where you can chat and see levels for the current players.
Browse the recordings
There are a few different play lists you can check out on ninbot. (For the best experience make sure you use firefox with the latest flashplayer)
How to get on and Jam
1. Get The Software
Linux Client Source .01a
2. Plugging in
The simplest setup involves having your gear go into your pc via a mic or line input and then having a pair of headphones to monitor the output. You will hear yourself in the mix which is a real important thing to realize. If you hear a delay when you play so will everyone else. A big delay can make a real good player sound like mic night at the Brat Stop in Kenoshak Wi, so pay attention and check out the section on minimizing delay.
3. Connecting to a server
Here are some server addresses you can enter when connecting:
The Ninbot Servers
The Ninjam Test Servers
4. Choosing a username
When connecting you will want to also check the box for
Anonymous login. This just means you dont have a password.
The program should also let you enter a nick name. On Windows and Macintosh clients
there is a text field for your name. On linux you can enter anon:yournickname
1. Cant hear anything when I join.
Check your audio settings (you will have to disconnect first to open the option panel).
2. No one hears me when I play
Make sure you have Trasmit turned on. Mute btw only mutes you locally.
You still transmit. On rare occasions ninjam will mess up a channel.
THis has happened on windows and mac both. To get around it just create a
3. My wife wont talk to me
You just cant hear her, Remove the headphones.
Here are tips for jamming that might be useful.
1. Quietly join servers
Before you join for the first time Turn off Trasmit. God knows what your system
will do. Remember we are all using headphones. When you are sure your levels are correct and you know what key people are playing in, join quietly.
2. Read the Chat
Read the chat, someone may be telling you something like "You are too loud".
3. Tune your guitar
Find your guitar tuner. Okay enough said.
4. Minimize distrortion
The amount of spectrum your instrument uses is a big deal. If you are playing
guitar with others try to keep it less thick than when playing alone. For example
pay attention to how many octaves you are using at once.
Leave room for others.
5. Mind the Metronome
The Metronome is bloody important. If you go off it you will hear some very bad recordings later. Remember, what you hear and what others hear on Ninjam is very different.
6. Mind the Interval
Because of the way Ninjam works, key changes must all happen within one interval.
Meaning if you want to do the blues you will need to set the BPI to 48.
This is why we play a lot of Jazz and Funk improv. A single key is often the best
7. Mind your levels
Your levels on ninjam should be around -10DB.
This gives the necessary head room for people to play together.
Do not set your levels like you are recording.
8. Playing in Key
Playing in key isnt as hard as it sounds. If you are a real beginner you might look up online how to play in E minor using a Pentatonic scale. Also try to find a a server with some more experiamental jams going on. If it sounds real good, you might just listen with transmit off and try to play along till you are sure you are harmonizing with the others.
9. Please don't play as "Anon"
Jamming as 'anon' does not help social interaction.
Its good to know who you are playing with and
when you login as 'anon' everyone is in the dark.
Also most jammers think 'anon' is a very very good
Japanese guitarist, so by using the name, you are
only going to let people down with your
meager skills and inability to read Kanji
requests to tune your guitar.
Using a consistent name is about
taking responsibility for your actions.
10. Respect others
Be respectful of others.
A little patience is always best for both the beginner and you angry old bastards.
(you know who you are)
Server Voting and Commands
!vote bpm value
Vote for a particular Beats per minute. The limit is 255 btw
!vote bpi value
Vote for a particular Beats per interval 8 and 16 are most common. 48 will get you the blues.
/msg email@example.com Your private messatge
Send a private message to a nother jammer
Get a list of server commands
Get server status such as how many people are listening in
Display everyones levels
nb mp3 mp3file
Play an MP3 file
nb midi midifile
Play a Midi file
nb drums midifile
Play only track 10 of a Midi file