Thumbjam App Review

Jamming is a series business for a musician. Bob Marley knew it, Technotronic knew it, and pretty much any serious musician knows it as well; a light afternoon jam can really loosen up your playing and kick out some truly great ideas with your band. It can also improve your improvisational skills and general feel for timings, key changes, rhythmical flourishes, and impromptu modification of songs on the fly.

Most importantly of all, it keeps musicians fresh and allows them to take a break from playing the same pre-prescribed song over and over again. What if you could how the power of the jam in the palm of your hand, however? Most would snap up the opportunity immediately since it is a fantastic piece of music creation software, and it’s as simple as choosing to let ThumbJam grace your mobile device. A unique and music-friendly interface combines with a huge range of sampled instrument sounds to produce an extremely fun, highly creative, and hugely portable musical experience for both pro and amateur musicians.

It’s best to delve into what makes this app unique, and this is the interface itself. This isn’t a basic drum pad or step sequencer as you know it, and you can forget the colourful highway-based mechanic of games like Lego Rock Band, but is a music performance tool that uses samples to bring you high-quality sounds through a line-based interface where you simply click on each line (each one representing a note in a user-selected key) to produce a sound; parts can then be looped and tinkered with until perfection is reached.

As well as the innovative user interface that allows you to reach all the necessary notes very easily, Thumbjam also allows you to record your very own performances to supplement the sampled sounds, so you can lay live vocals or some sweet-sounding acoustic guitar to your existing loops, mixing them down and making them sit perfectly in the mix, though in fairness to other apps such as Garageband, this feature isn’t exactly unique to this app. Samples sounds include standards like guitar, drums, various pianos and keys, some basic synths, and even some more outlandish instruments like the theramin.

The interface of the app does allow the nuances of musical performance to be realised in a spectacular way, with the position of your tap on each of the note lines affecting note volume and its pan (depending on how you have set up the instrument of course), and flares like vibrato on strings can be applied by wiggling your finger. This is extremely important because musicians will know that adding a few techniques like tremolo and vibrato here and there can transform a piece from a lifeless, mechanical tune to a performance with feeling and skilful use of basic musical techniques.

In addition to its local performance, recording, and looping capabilities, developer Sonosphere has been innovative enough to allow us to use the app as an input device that can connect to Mac or PC via WiFi. The app becomes an instrument that be used in conjunction with your desktop music production programs, letting you use its brilliant interface to lay down midi data in programs like FL Studio or Cubase. For PC you’ll need some midi software to use this function and for Mac it works through Mac’s CoreMidi interface, but it is extremely useful nonetheless and demonstrates the power of this seemingly modest app.

ThumbJam’s main strength is of course the unique input interface and selection of touch- dependent musical techniques like vibrato and the ability to control volume of each note played. Recording wise, the app is capable but needs a bit of improvement, and the general graphics/design could do with a bit of brightening up as well. Overall, this app deserves the attention of musicians wishing to jam out and record some ideas in a professional and convenient way. 

Download Thumbjam for iOS

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