In an attempt to beat the lockdown blues, the YCC has been experimenting with music software which allows musicians to jam together.
We have struggled to meet to play since lockdown, a situation faced by many musicians all over the country, and while we have managed to chat over Zoom (pictured above), this particular meeting platform isn't great if you want to play live as a band, there are delays in the transfer of the sound information (latency) which means that any attempt at group playing results in a dreadful cacophony.
At our October meeting one of our members suggested taking a look at JamKazam, free software which he had heard was designed for band playing and dealt with the latency issue. Over the last month, a small group of us have been meeting to work out how to use JamKazam and evaluate its usefulness to us at the YCC.
It is fair to say we have had mixed success. After a couple of weeks investigating how to use JamKazam, three of us have managed to jam together in our test sessions, and played a recognisable rendition, in three parts, of a popular folk tune The Plane Tree. However, when we gathered in a larger group at our meeting on 15th November, things started to fall apart a bit as some of our members struggled to access the JamKazam platform fully - the audio feed was a bit glitchy. JamKazam is really designed for people who work with music technology on a regular basis, so we are all doing a bit of upskilling at the moment in trying to get it to work for our concertina band.
We intend to take a look at each individual set up to work out the techno-kinks and have another go next month, but thought it worth sharing our findings so far.
To use JamKazam successfully we have found:
1. You need to download the JamKazam app to your computer
2. It doesn't work particularly well over a wi-fi connection, you need to be connected directly to the ethernet
3. You need to take some time to set up your audio correctly, and this requires a bit of technical know how
4. Headphones are an essential if you don't want a lot of feedback when playing
5. Planning ahead is important as you need to make each other your "friend" within JamKazam so that you can accept an invitation to a YCC session.
6......patience is helpful!
JamKazam does have potential, and it has been useful to investigate whether it could work for our group. We continue to explore technical solutions to playing as a band while socially distancing, and also to meet via Zoom until we are able to get back into the band room at the Cornerhouse Club.