Wow!! How fast is this year flying by? April already, and so much has happened in the drum industry: NAMM introduced loads of new goodies; Premier are making drums in the UK again, Mapex have stunned us with the RetroSonic and MyDentity range, Ludwig coming back strong and just signing Vinnive Coliuta this week, Buddy Rich’s 25th anniversary on Monday, Roland’s new TD30-KV electronic drum kit and our Wez has brought another drummer into the world! Congratulations to the Westgate family!
One of the big things that has really taken off and was really being pushed at this year’s musik messes’ were Apps for the musician. There are so many out there from recording apps, apps to help your theory and reading, composition apps, and tuners for guitars. I’m going to look at a couple that I have found useful for myself and as teaching aids.
Firstly, a must for any drummer, 'Tempo
’ a metronome app which is easy to use and offers some great features. You can have 35 different time signatures 1-13/2, 1-13/4, 3/8, 5/8 (2 variations of count), 6/8, 7/8 (3 variations of count), 9/8, and 12/8. However, another feature which creates subdivisions from the main beat (triplet, 16th note etc..) can be used to make a few more if you work it right by changing the accents, but the subdivision feature alone is fantastic. I use this feature a lot when teaching. For example it helps when practicing rudiments with students. You can use the subdivisions to aid them when playing, say, paradiddles in 16th note form at, say 120 BPM. The subdivisions enable them to hear exactly how fast they need to play, and supports them when trying higher tempos that they are aiming for. Also, you can create 'setlists’ of your band’s individual song tempos in order of your setlist so your tempos on every song, on every gig will be spot on. I use this app for teaching and gigging, in my eyes its the best metronome app out there. It’s priced at £1.49 (although i got it while it was a free app) which I think is reasonable and much cheaper than the big bulky old school pendulum metronomes which cost the price of a moon! I know there is an advanced version which as even more great features although i find this one more than enough and easy to use.
One of the newest and coolest apps that I think is out at the moment is 'Jammit
’. This app has been in the making for a long time but it has finally been give the go ahead!! Basically this app has the actual recordings of many great songs with the option to isolate or remove an instrument from the mix and play along with the original artist (no cover versions!!). There are some great features on this app which make is stand out. You get a full scrolling score of each song, you can loop any section of the song and slow it down. The app itself is free; however, each song that you download costs, ranging from $0.99 – $5.99 (£0.60 – £3.70), which you may think is a little steep, but just think how much work actually goes into this app and each song! The licencing alone will be costly, and it has taken them years to sort out, and that is ongoing with every new artist they release tracks for. Also the software design that allows the app to do what it does, and the notation that has to be scored out for each song and each instrument, including voice, note for note, is very time consuming. This app is very nicely put together easy to navigate no matter which format you use it on (iPod, iPad, iPhone, Mac). It has been a long time coming and although the song selection is still very limited, it is growing all the time. This app is the future of backing tracks for musicians and a way of learning songs. Fantastic!!
Have a look at the demo of Jammit here:
There are many other apps out there for musicians from 'iRig
’ where you can plug your guitar or bass into your iPod, iPad, or iPhone and have a range of amps and fx at your fingertips to play, practice or record with, to things like 'Gig Baby
’ Multi-track recorders, 'Ear For Life
’ perfect pitch, interval and chord ear training. The list really is endless and I’m sure many of you have come across ones which I haven’t so feel free to share them.
Checks these apps out they really are fantastic, I hope they help.
Hopefully I have a few great things coming up to blog about which will cover your requests. Thanks for reading and spread the word.