JAM with Chrome lets even the untalented join a band

Steven Loeb · November 8, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2b89

Users can pick from 19 instruments, and invite three friends to jam with them

When I was a kid I took piano lessons. Then I played trumpet in band in junior high and some of high school. I was never all that good at either of them, probably because I never practiced, so I wound up quitting. I've always kind of envied my friend who were really good musicians, though, because what's cooler than being able to play the guitar? 

JAM with Chrome, an interactive web application that enables friends in different locations to play music together in the Chrome browser on their computers, was launched by Google on Thursday. Now even I can join a band!

Kind of.

Here is how it works:

Users can choose from a selection of 19 different instruments, including nine different guitars, five types of drums and five different keyboards. Choices include acoustic bass guitar, distorted electric guitar, brushes drums, techno drum machine, string synth keyboard and electric piano keyboard.

Each instrument has two modes: easy and pro, with the easy mode letting users play the instrument with their mouse by clicking individual strings, drum pads or keys, while the pro mode assigning each aspect of the instrument with letters on the keyboard. The example below is the pro version of the standard drums:

Users can play around and create their own tunes, or can accompany one of four different autoplay tunes that are only available in easy mode. They can also change the tempo and the key of the instrument.

They can also invite up to three friends to join their JAM.

"No matter what your level of talent—from daydreaming air guitarist to music pro—you can JAM together in real time over the web," Google says.

Think of it like Rock Band, except now you need to actually know a little something about the instruments to play them. You can try it out at JamwithChrome.com.

Technology behind JAM with Chrome

JAM with Chrome uses serveral web technologies and Google products, including HTML5 features such as the Web Audio API, Websockets, Canvas and CSS3.

Web Audio API allowed the developers to create more precise sound combinations, without  needing to process individual audio streams from each person in the JAM, while Canvas lets Chrome control what the user sees, including each vibrating string on their guitar, which is modeled after the user's individual strumming technique and the harmonics of the band.

Websockets is what allows for real time collaboration, so the JAM session can be synchronized.

You can read more about the technology here.

Watch a fun demo version of how to use Jam with Chrome, featuring everyone's favorite YouTube sensation from 2009: Keyboard Cat!

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