I’ve covered a whole bunch of different drum, percussion and groove-based apps here on the Music App Blog over the last couple of years or so. However, if you are after a straightforward take on drums where the results are pretty much instant and song construction requires no pattern programming, then you would be hard pressed to find something better than the various genre-themed drum apps from Luis Martinez.
One of these is the excellent Brazilian Drum Machine. This is a universal app and priced at UK£10.99/US$14.99. It’s a 140MB download and requires iOS8 and has both Audiobus and IAA support. In essence, what you are getting here is a sample-based drum machine with a grid-based sequencing environment. The samples are all based on classic Brazilian drum and percussion sounds and the six lanes will play different instruments based upon the specific sound set selected.
A collection of preset patterns (grooves) are provided organised into banks based around Samba, Bossa Nova, Marcha, Bateria and a few others, and a user bank (where you can put your own grooves). The Edit page (selectable via the tabs located bottom-left of the main display) allows you to pick a groove bank, then a particular groove (rhythm) from within that bank and finally a set of sounds from the very impressive set of ‘kit’ presets. This is all done via three ‘spin’ selection menus.
However, as with all of Luis’ drum apps, the really clever stuff is (a) just how easy it is to build a song structure and (b) the various options for adding some subtle randomisation into the patterns to give the end result a more human feel. If you don’t have drum programming skills (and I don’t; I’m a very incompetent drummer), then these apps really do help with that heavy lifting.
Back in February Luis added MIDI sync, 4 new effects options and a number of other new features in v.2.0. However, in line with the feature set of more recent releases in the series such as Funk Drummer and Soft Drummer, Luis has now released v.3.0 of the app and has added a number of further new features to this already impressive app.
Perhaps the two most significant changes are that Brazilian Drum Machine now includes the Live Pads option originally introduced in Soft Drummer and Ableton Link support. The Live Pads feature is very cool. It allows you to identify eight patterns and then trigger then ‘live’ from the pads (or MIDI) as well as adding fills or endings. Live Pad sets can also be saved and re-loaded while the New button allows you to clear the current selections. These pads are great for creating a complete performance on the fly.
The Ableton Link support is also great to see. While many iOS musicians are keeping everything crossed that Apple AU format is going to gain more traction, Ableton Link – another new-ish iOS music making technology – has already proved a very popular introduction. For drum/percussion apps in particular, this has rapidly become a ‘must have’ feature so it’s great to see Luis upgrading all the apps in his drum series with support. Having given this a bit of a workout this morning via AUM, I’m happy to report that Brazilian Drum Machine seemed to be up tight and in sync with both Soft Drummer and Patterning.
Even used just a a jam-along tool, Brazilian Drum Machine is good fun but, for creating a groovetastic Brazilian rhythm while putting together a song idea demo, it is just a joy to use. And while I can’t claim to be an expert in Brazilian/Latin American music styles, to my ears at least, the rhythms and sounds seem to capture the style very well indeed… and the quality of the samples would certainly be good enough for many applications (including commercial ones). This is good stuff… No, Brazilian Drum Machine doesn’t have the same finesse or feature set of a top-of-the-line desktop virtual drum/percussion instrument, but it is most certainly excellent value for money.
Fingers crossed Luis Martinez can keep the development work going on all of these ‘Drum Machine’ apps. The concept is brilliant and, for some instant drum/groove inspiration, whether that’s rock, funk, Brazilian or a ‘softer’ approach, these apps are pretty hard to beat. Highly recommended…