From the Share Skype site comes an interesting application of voice conferencing: getting your band together.

As a background, our band Liquid Playground is reuniting and performing for our 10 year college reunion at Princeton in May, but the problem is we haven’t seen or played with each other for 7 years. time heals most wounds and we are all happy to get back together for a reunion gig. Here is how we set it up: Three of us were in my garage in Redwood City, CA (drums, vocals, keyboards), the bass player was in Colorado, and the guitar player was in Boston. Each remote player had an amp in their room near their computer and a mic. I had a wireless laptop and mic in the garage and ran my audio out into an amp in the garage. I set up the Skype conference and when the remote users would talk or play, they’d be coming through the amp just as if they were in the garage.There was an issue of slight delay in that we couldn’t all sync up real-time while we were playing. However, we quickly learned to ignore some sounds as we were playing if they were behind the beat. But 50% of this rehearsal was trying to remember what the heck we played and how we played it, and Skype was perfect for this: Pete in MA would ask how a chord progression went. It’s amazing we pulled it off, but Skype is a huge reason why we won’t suck as much when we finally get on stage again!

Skype sounds like a great solution to me, particularly with cross-platform support (I’m running Skype on my Macs, PC, and PocketPC). It’s not the only solution: I saw a percussion teacher do a remote class with a group of marimbists across the country via iChat AV.

Have you tried any of this tech for distance learning or music practice?

  • adonijah

    I am in a band myself and have a bit of a dilemma. I am planning to move 1300 miles away from the rest of the members in about a year or so, yet we have SO much left to do. have you been able to practice anymore with Skype? How well do you think it would work for writing new music? Let me know if you have any more info on it or any advice. Thanks! 8)

  • Adonijah,

    I post on the Skype blog and was actually the person who took the user story for Liquid Playground. From my own personal experience, Skype is ideal for writing music–especially if you work one on one with each band member (such as drums with guitar, and so on). You can hook up external speakers and play in real-time. It might take a few tries to work out the kinks, and it might never be as "perfect" as playing together in a garage…but I think it could definately keep any band connected when they are seperated geographically. Good luck!

  • Maybe if all of the strings and vox were at one location, and the drummer played a midi drumset, that would eliminate latency issues as the midi bandwidth is much smaller than audio. Problem would be to get a signal back to the drummer for monitoring. Perhaps all instruments would be need to be midified. How could one transmit midi via skype?


  • bw

    I tried to do this and when I would play guitar, I couldn't hear my partner on the other skype end. It was like a CB where you have to hold down the button and only one person could play, or could be heard playing. When I'd play, he couldn't hear me, when he'd play, I couldn't hear him.

    Is there a way around this? I'd love for this to work.