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December 8, 2009

Just Add Water

So, I had Jam #2 with my new "Blues Band" last night. I don't want to blog specifically about the band, other than to say i think session number 2 went really well.

The line-up this time around was two guitars, bass, blues harp and... and... well, that was it. Our drummer was poorly, so the skins just sat there, unbashed.

Now, in my old age I've become something of a technophobe and I don't like to over-complicate things with kit. I'm not terribly keen on computers and I hate mobile phones, social networking and reality TV. On the music front, I don't even like pedals, though after struggling to get a decent sound out of the studio amp last night, I think I might have to consider investing in one. Any suggestions for a (reasonable) blues tone? Anyone? Anyone???

Last night, much to my surprise, technology came to the rescue. Not only that, but it was technology that I've been carrying around in my pocket.

Those initiated into the not-so-secret society of iPhone users will doubtless already be sporting a knowing smile. Drummer not able to turn up? There's an app for that.

More accurately, there were two apps for that. The first one, iDrum, I've mentioned before. iDrum's strength is that in real time you can quickly build up a beat and modify hits whilst it's playing. Last night, iDrum was the app of choice when practicing specific songs.

The second app, which I've not mentioned before, was "Instant Drummer, Heartbreaker" which is a set of acoustic drum samples that you can play back, varying such things as intensity, number of fills etc.

The beauty of Instant Drummer is that, when jamming in 4/4, you can just hit play, set the tempo and you immediately have a 'realistic' sounding drummer. Okay, so the drummer's never going to react to the band and speed up or slow down, but for a practice session, it's good enough.

The downside of both apps is that they don't swing. I'm hoping that the 'blues' edition of Instant Drummer will be more flexible, but for now you're stuck with regular time.

Neither of these apps are any substitute for the real thing, obviously, but for the first time since getting it, I really saw the potential of the iPhone as a usable tool and not just a flashy toy.


Furtheron said...

I've had an old Marshall Guvnor pedal (a mark 1) that I've used straight into a PA and got a usable tone in the past.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning InstantDrummer. We'll release a Blues edition some day soon :) and they will swing as recorded in high end studios


Kenski said...

I want a Porsche... They're great... Anyone? Anyone???

Oh well, worth a shot, eh?


Axe said...

Bloody iPhones...

Furtheron said...

I was thinking... Blackstar pedals that is the answer to your portable sound dilema... basically the guts of your amp in a pedal... genius... no?

Kenski said...

I had the same thought about the Blackstar Pedal in a similar 'Eureka' moment... then I saw the price :-)

They're not all 'super-expensive' but I think for now I just need a cheap yet decent overdrive that I can chuck in my gig bag...