Online singing

Jamulus singing

My work schedule finally allowed me to join the regular twice-monthly Bay Area Sacred Harp Jamulus singing.

There were about 15 log-ins, and three of those log-ins had more than one person singing. So we may have had twenty total humans singing together. We had one singer log in from Kansas, and his total latency as reported in Jamulus was about 74 ms; I did not notice that he slowed us down. Another singer logged in from San Diego, and I’m not sure what his latency was. But most of us had latencies in the range of 30-50 ms. This tended to keep tempos slower than usual.

Singing using Jamulus is getting easier. I’ve gotten used to the lack of visual cues; it’s still annoying, but it’s no longer disconcerting. I’m better able to judge how to stay on tempo: it’s a fine line to walk because on the one hand you need to have rock-solid time and stick with that time no matter what, but you also have to listen carefully in case the overall group is slowing down, in which case you have to adjust your internal metronome.

However, I still get tripped up by things. For example, this time I thought I was watching my volume level on the Jamulus controls, but at one point when I had to look down at the music, I unconsciously raised my volume enough to push my audio feed into the red zone. Jamulus has no room for error — you go into the red zone, your audio feed sounds horrible, and all the other singers have to mute you. I adjusted my mic volume down, and that solved the problem. And it wasn’t just me — another singer had the same problem.

I also wonder what will happen when we try music we don’t know well. So far, we’ve been sticking to tunes that all of us know well. When we start learning new tunes, for example some of the new music in the Shenandoah Harmony, will it just turn into chaos?

Nevertheless, singing with other people in real time — even in not in person — was enormously uplifting. The pandemic can really get you down, and this singing was a good antidote to that.