There used to be an old comic book advertisement that said, "They laughed when I sat down to play the piano." The new GrooveMaker iPhone app brings that phrase into the 21st century… Its ad might say, "They laughed when I said I would DJ the whole party with just my iPhone." But it's true: With GrooveMaker, from IK Multimedia, anyone can be a mixmaster and it's a lot easier than you think.
To wet the public's whistle for this cleverly fine tuned app IK has released "GrooveMaker Free" which includes one free song. A single song may not sound like much but when you discover the hundreds of ways you can change the song's track, tempo, mix, melody, and more, it becomes apparent that "one song" gives you a lot of raw material to work with. And by the way, you'll receive an additional free song when you register the app.
Downloading the app and bundled song "Juice" takes a little while and the first time you use the app it takes a minute or two to unpack the included song. But after that everything moves quickly and easily. The opening screen, at first glance, can be a bit intimidating with its mess of buttons and meters as shown here:
However, IK Multimedia has done an admirable job of utilizing the limited space of the iPhone screen so within minutes it should begin to make sense to you.
I found that one of the easiest ways to get started is to follow along with GrooveMaker's video demos on their website www.GrooveMaker.com.
Each numbered button (1-8) represents a track in the song. To change a track you can tap one of the four mix buttons on the right to have GrooveMaker choose them for you. I was surprised at the variety each time I clicked on a mix button.
Each of the four buttons is labeled for the "flavor" of the mixes it generates -- random, inst, perc, and mild.
You can also edit a track by tapping it and then tapping the "Loops" button to choose from the 125 loops, which include bass parts, lead lines, sound effects, and synthesized pads. You can see some of the loops and bass parts you can choose from on the right side of this screen:
When you're happy with the tracks you've selected (or that GrooveMaker has selected for you), tap the "Track" button to adjust the volume and pan of each individual track as I'm doing in the image below for track 3.
You can use up to eight tracks in each song so the possibilities are practically endless. And you can easily change the tempo, mute, or solo a track while you mix the song just like you can in GarageBand.
When you finish a segment (known as a "groove" in GrooveMaker parlance), tap the Groove Snap button and that groove is saved as groove 1. After you have saved the grooves that will make up your finished song, tap the Sequence button where you can drag the grooves you've saved into the sequential order you desire. That's all there is to it. To save your masterpiece select "Mix Browser" and push "Save".
Finally, you can export your song to your computer as a full quality 44Khz/16 bit WAV file and then convert it to an MP3 or AAC file (in iTunes) which you can easily share over networks, iPods, Facebook, etc.
The Bottom Line
GrooveMaker won't necessarily turn you into a hip hop artist but its intuitive controls and wonderfully dynamic loops will certainly keep you entertained and bring out your creative side. Plus it's a lot of fun to play with even if nobody else ever hears what you create.