Welcome to another installment of Musician’s Corner. This column is for musicians and fans of music in general. Here you can discover amazing apps for creating, sharing, and listening to music. We’ll also bring you product announcements and hands-on reviews of all things music related. If you have any suggestions for ideas, or want to know about any music-related topics, let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, this week’s subject is Drums XD by Squeegees ($4.99).
Drumming on the iPad is either a creative and fun way to pass the time, or a complicated endeavor that ultimately leads to sprained fingers, depending on the level of expertise of the user involved. Drums XD is an app that offers both a way to goof off and a way to create serious beats. You don’t have to be a professional drummer, but if you are, you will be able to produce top-quality drum tracks.
The app comes with ten pre-designed drum kits, including Acoustic, Jazz, Studio, Classic Rock and more. Each drum kit can be reconfigured to the user’s playing style. To edit a kit, slide the “unlock” bar at the top-left corner of the screen. Once in edit mode, you can drag the snare, toms, cymbals, and other drum pieces around. You can also use pinch-to-zoom gestures to make something smaller or larger or drag a piece to the trash if you want to delete it from the kit.
Once you’ve laid out the design of the kit, you can also alter the sound of each piece by double tapping to bring up the editing tool. Here, you can adjust the pitch, volume and left-right pan. You can also set up the paradiddle rolls to be single, double or triple rolls (It’s OK if you don’t know what that means, just experiment). You can also edit the metronome tempo, volume mixers, and effects like Reverb, Echo, and Flanger by tapping the mixing board icon at the top-right of the screen.
OK, so now you’ve got your drum kit laid out just right and the toms are tuned to your desired pitch, now it’s time to add the visual effects. There are 23 different backgrounds that you can use by dragging and dropping to the drum kit from the background window. There are also four different lighting effects that will flash every time you tap a drum piece. You can create a mellow mood with a couple of world percussion drums and a classic background, or go wild with the Epic kit and fiery background.
Most of the drum kit pieces make different sounds, depending on how you tap them. For example, the hi-hats can be played open or closed depending on which side of the cymbal you tap. Many of the toms will change in pitch when you tap the center or outer edge of the skin. To simulate a drum rolls while playing, drag your finger in a circular motion across the tom or snare instead of tapping it.
I’m not done yet, folks. Even though all of these amazing features are included, the real beauty is in its ability to interact with other apps. You can record an entire song’s drum track and then send it to yourself in an email simply by dragging the audio file to the sharing clipboard. You can also upload the song directly to SoundCloud to be shared on the music-based website. My favorite feature, however, is the ability to copy the track and paste it directly into GarageBand. That’s right, you can use this feature-rich drumming app to record an amazing drum track and then use that track in GarageBand to create the perfect song.
The app also includes MIDI in and out support and can be used with apps like BeatMaker and others. According to the developer, users can even add their own sounds via Wi-Fi and use DRUM XD as the brain for certain types of electronic drum kits. I tried it with my Roland TD7 electronic kit and it didn’t work, so I’m not sure which units it works with.
I almost forgot to mention that you can play along with songs from your iPad’s music library. Simply tap the headphone icon in edit mode and then tap the musical note. Your device’s music library will show up and you can select any song to play along with. You can even adjust the volume of the music if you want to practice your finger drumming technique.
As you can see, this app is both a fancy entertainment app and a full-featured musician’s app. There is almost nothing you can’t do with Drum XD. The app is only $4.99, which is about half of what it is worth. If you are a digital drummer, you won’t want to pass this up. If you just want an app that will keep little Johnny entertained for a few hours, the price makes it a reasonable download for that, too.
Check out the video below to see details on the app’s features. If you can’t see the clip, click here for a direct link to it on YouTube.
Thanks for reading another installment of Musician’s Corner. You can also read my review of IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube Slash app from our first column. Remember, I want to write about what you want to know about. Are there any musical instruction apps that you want to know whether they really work? Have you had your eye on a music accessory and you wonder whether it is compatible with your iPhone and iPad? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll find out for you.