sBASSdrum goes free – super-simple drum and groove machine from Amy Lee

Download from iTunes App Storesbassdrum logoIt’s not very often that you find a music app developer claiming that their new app is also a spaceship but that’s exactly what Amy Lee of Sequence Mediaworks is suggesting about her new music app sBASSdrum. Thankfully, Amy has her tongue firmly in her cheek but, graphically, as sBASSdrum is ‘set’ on the flight deck of a space-themed computer game – all very retro and rather cute at the same time – the claim isn’t without some substance :-)

sBASSdrum is described as a drum and groove machine but, given that the app is also described as ‘super easy’, Amy’s target audience is probably not so much the dedicated iOS musician but the young kids of the dedicated iOS musician. Essentially, the app provides a basic looper recording environment where you can create a single loop from a set of drum and synth samples and add to that loop by overdubbing. There is no Audiobus or IAA (at least not yet), nor can you trigger the drums or synths from an external controller, but background audio is supported if you want to play along using other apps over the top of your sBASSdrum creation.

Included in the app are four different sets of drum samples and a series of different synth presets and these can be loaded into the virtual pads located right and left of the lower half of the screen. Rather nicely, some of the synth patches provide a combination of four chords and an associated bass sound that plays the root of those chords. With these patches, it’s actually very easy to then knock out a simple synth-based chord progression and the only obvious comment to make here is ‘more please’; some additional sets of chords/synth sound combination would be a nice to see as they are fun to use. Other synth presets have the pads configured for playing melodies. In addition to the sounds there is also an X-Y control pad that allows you to low pass/high pass filter the overall sound in a basic DJ style.

sBASSdrum in action - it really is a spaceship!

sBASSdrum in action – it really is a spaceship!

The looping feature is very much ‘freeform’; hit record and start playing. There is no count in or metronome to follow; you just play until you want to stop and can then loop that performance and overdub onto it, switching sounds if you wish between different overdub layers. However, once you quit sBASSdrum, your loop is gone forever; there is not, as yet, a save facility included.

I can’t claim to be an expert ‘looper’ but I do love using apps like LoopyHD and Loopr, both of which I think are very creative tools (although also different in their feature sets). I’m sure Amy would not claim that sBASSdrum is in the same class as these other two apps but, what it lacks in features it tries to make up for in ease of use; frankly, give this app to a 5 year old and they will find their way around it within a few minutes – and will, I except, have a good deal of fun in doing so. It might be nice (and useful) to have a count-in/tempo setting/metronome option  for those new to the whole looping experience as this can make getting that first loop down a little easier and ensure that things then stay in time. Otherwise, this is about as easy as looper-based sound-on-sound gets.

If you are an experienced iOS musician looking for an ultra-simple way of getting some small folk interested in your passion, sBASSdrum is an excellent choice. It’s easier to grasp than Garageband, or even something like Figure, but also quite capable of knocking out a little loop-based composition with a minimum of fuss. I don’t imagine anyone will perhaps use it for anything too serious in terms of music production (although it might be a fun challenge to give it a shot) and, without Audiobus, IAA or the ability to save your loop creations, your new iOS music inductees might soon move on to something more fully featured, but it is a very child-friendly place to start.

And, until Valentine’s Day on the 14th on Feb, the app is free. I’m not suggesting you grab a copy instead of chocolates or a bunch of flowers for a significant other, but it might serve as a musical distraction for your younger children while you and said significant other grab a romantic drink and a bite to eat on Friday evening :-)

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If you want to see sBASSdrum in action, then check out Amy’s video demo embedded below.

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    1. Cool Beans, looks like a really neat app.

    2. Steve Lockett says:

      “… I’m not suggesting you grab a copy instead of chocolates or a bunch of flowers for a significant other,..”

      Damn… that WAS my idea…


    3. It is fun, forces you to play without taking things too seriously, and yet I found the way it was set up very conducive to creative looping. Outputting, or exporting would be a bonus, but for now, I find myself totally charmed by it…First time out, who knows how it could evolve?

      PLAY is the operative words, so for now, check your seriousness at the door, and have some fun with it. I pushed the layers so hard, I made the ship crash, and that was the first good laugh I had all day!

      • Hi Chris… agreed…. take it for what it is and it is a lot of fun…. especially when handed to a younger child and seeing what these computer-savvy small folk can do with it within a few minutes….

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