BeatPad is another iOS drum machine, but one that is quite different from DM1, being perhaps more like a variant of the Akai MPC series (though I’ve never used one of those, so I can’t say for certain). Like DM1, BeatPad has a wide variety of drum and other instrument samples (from gongs and brass ensembles to choirs and hip-hop sounds), but BeatPad allows you to use one ‘kit’ for each track, making it easy to combine many different samples in total. This makes it much more flexible in certain aspects, though it does lack some of DM1’s more advanced features, so it comes down to a matter of taste, really.
The harmonica is not an instrument I have used often – I think the last time was on one of my first rounds of Song Fu – and it’s certainly not something I find easy to play. However, after a while jamming around on it I can usually find my way around it well enough to get a tune out without it sounding too wretched.
The first track uses a few different built-in pad and percussion sample kits on BeatPad, with three different harmonica lines, one of which is unprocessed, one is fed through a rotary speaker simulator and the other through a complex echo modulator to build up a thick, ambient backdrop.
This was a real test of BeatPad, using all eight available tracks and eight different sample sets, including a custom set constructed from the harmonica. Each layer is added progressively, then they are gradually stripped away, first to last, exposing the later layers towards the end. As the harmonica samples drop out of the track they are replaced with a live overdubbed harmonica melody at the end.
A simple repeated motif on percussion, harmonica and piano sample sets starts off, then it drops away, leaving the piano and a live harmonica overdub to lead out.
For some of these tracks I decided to use the sampling feature of BeatPad to create my own samples based on the mouth organ. This process is really straightforward: record using the built-in microphone or edit any existing music on the iPhone/iPad, tidy the sample using an on-screen, touch-controlled waveform editor that also allows fades and cuts and then move onto the next sample. The application allows you to save and share these custom sample sets, so here is the one I put together for these tracks – just click on the image to download it.