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Drum Space - A New Kind of Percussion Instrument for iOS Devices

Drum Space is a totally new kind of percussion app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod/Touch. Most drum apps simply map drum sounds (samples) to pads that look like drums. Few take advantage of the full touch sensitive surface of the iPad and other iOS devices. Drum Space maps drum and percussion sounds to a 16x10 array of control pads placed in a 2-D "sound space" - left, right, foreground, and background. The sound space is a rendered as a colored "palette" of sound that can be played either by tapping the pad on the device or by MIDI control.

Over 170 high quality drum and percussion samples are included along with a number of sample drum setups to get you started. There are almost literally an infinite number of ways to arrange and play the instrument. Sliding your finger across the top scroll view reveals three sets of controls - from left to right: play, edit, and control. In play mode you can select a setup to play or edit, copy and paste one setup into another, and save all setups. The movie below demonstrates a sample setup.

(N.B. Some of the following video demos show a slight delay between the picture and sound. This is an artifact of the recording process. The app's latency - delay between pad down and a sound - is about 20 milliseconds.)

In edit mode you can create and edit a drum setup. ADD creates a new sound in the center of the screen. You can change the sound and move it anywhere you like. (N.B. Don't use this mode for playing as tapping the screen also moves sounds.) DELETE removes the selected sound. BANK cycles through the drum bank: bass drums, congas, cymbals, djembe, hand drums, snare drums, street sounds, tabla, toms, and traps. ITEM selects items with a bank; e.g., for Djembe you can select: hi-bass, hi-slap, hi-tone, lo-bass, lo-slap, and lo-tone. BLENDING controls the mixing of drums sounds to pads. The following shows how easy it is to create a new setup.

DIMENSION changes the mapping of drum/percussion sounds to pads. There are six choices:

  1. Linear drum space maps drums to pads based on 1-D left/right distance
  2. A different linear drum space maps drums to pads based on 1-D top/bottom distance
  3. 2-D drum space maps drums to pads based on 2-D drum-pad distance
  4. Annular drum space maps drums to pads depending on their distance from the center of the screen
  5. Radial drum space maps drums to pads depending on their angle relative to the center of the screen
  6. Lexographic ordering of pads, which is used for external MIDI control of individual drum sounds.
We used the 2-D setting in the above example. Examples of several other dimensional settings are shown later on.

Sliding your finger on the top control bar all the way to the left reveals a number of rotary control knobs. Volume, attack, release, and pitch change the currently selected sound. Although most percussion sounds have fast attack and release times, the character of some sounds like cymbals can be changed by varying the attack and release. Pitch changes the playback rate of the sample. The example below illustrates how this works.

Reverb (delay, decay, and low-pass filter) affect pads on the top half of the screen, which simulate drums that are farther away. You can turn reverb off by turning the delay knob all the way to the left. Double tap a rotary knob to return to its default value.

The 2-D drum space is perhaps the most intuitive; however the annular space is most useful particularly for hand drums as shown in the following demo (examples 1 and 3). The tuned aluminum cans (example 2) are arranged in a radial space in the following CW order (from the top): C, E, G, C, B, A, F, and D. This setup resembles a "hang drum".

The last video shows two linear setups (example 1 and 2) and a lexographic mapping (example 3).

Example 1 is a Latin setup with a vertical mapping function where the reverb increases from bottom to top. Example 2 is a set of tom toms arranged assigned a horizontal mapping function where toms at the top have more reverb than those at the bottom. Example 3 is a lexographic arrangement of drum sounds in MIDI locations 35-59. Although this mapping is the most direct, any mapping can be played with an external MIDI device.

If you use this with other Midi apps, Midi Bridge or a similar app is required to route Midi signals between apps.

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