Hello Jesse and fellow thumbjamers,
I am new to the world of iOS apps having just bought an ipad2 a couple of weeks ago, due in large part after watching the demo videos for Thumbjam. My congratulations to Jesse for creating such an inspiring and enjoyable instrument - I have only had little time to explore it but I am verily impressed by the obvious genius responsible for creating such a clearly organized and intuitive interface. My background in music has been as a freelance bassist and guitarist for the past 20 years and although I had to develop a (very) rudimentary level of competence on the keyboard when I was at music school I have never been able to really take advantage of the wide array of sampled instruments that are ubiquitous now via standard keyboard controllers. I am excited to finally have all these instruments at my fingertips and appreciate how well conceived this instrument is for both novice and pro alike. I look forward to what additions will be made to the instrument list and how the app will continue to evolve and be refined. After reading a few posts in the forum I am glad to see how responsive Jesse is to this community and hope that a few suggestions for further evolution/refinement might be welcomed:
After exploring the instrument list, and being generally impressed with the quality of the samples, I can't help but wish that their velocity could be controlled via the pressure on the glass as in Garageband, for instance. Some of the more expressive instruments would really benefit from a few layers of velocity switching.
An obvious case for the need for pressure/velocity but also it would be nice to be able to rearrange the order of the individual components of a drum kit to suit the individual - with the ability to drag/displace via the screen and also cut, copy and paste to duplicate or delete particular components.
This is one of my main concerns with Thumbjam and hope that Jesse can further refine this part of the interface, soon. In comparison to the two other instrument apps I have, Garageband and Animoog, I much prefer the Thumbjam layout in general. Playing a tiny keyboard (GB) on an ipad is frustrating at best and while Animoog has come up with an interesting way of incorporating accidentals into their scale layout by using black keys it still is nonetheless not quite as easy to visualize the chosen scale as I would like. Thumbjam has incorporated three colors to represent the root, P4, and P5 of the scale - which is very helpful in visualizing the layout and repetition of the scale. I would like to suggest expanding this central element of the interface to further define and visualize the scale that we are looking at. The root note is obviously the most defining note of the scale and perhaps could be represented a bit more boldly in its color saturation as compared to the other pitches. I would argue that the 3rd and 7th degrees of the scale are as important as the 4th and 5th and should be color-coded as well. Perhaps the 2nd, 4th and 6th could be displayed in lighter shade than those primary chord tones. Another idea is to borrow from the Animoog paradigm and represent the accidentals in a black outline as opposed to white. Having a clear representation of where intervals and chords are is probably something we all would like to see and the potential for TJ to lay it out in a logical color pattern seems to be central to the philosophy. I realize the simplicity of the interface needs to be maintained and it will be a challenge to come up with a color scheme that clearly shows what the pitches are without being too distracting. One thing I would like to mention here is that it would be less distracting to have the note(s) being played light up with their own color rather than changing colors as is the current behavior.
Please consider having the volume extend the full length of the x axis, preferably from right to left.
Please also consider retaining the bars in continuum mode instead of the target lines currently employed while retaining the black finger line defining the current pitch.
Change Instrument Behavior
This is a simple request but would save some time when changing instruments. It would be very helpful if the scale/key/and span could all be retained when switching between instruments and also when adding a second instrument.
A few suggestions here:
It would be convenient to access some of the more commonly used functions here by expanding on what's already present or condensing similar function buttons into a slide out grouping as in the bottom button (audio>midi control), preferably incorporating the much appreciated finger hold/glide functionality of the corner menus, i.e. the fewer taps the better. So, perhaps the metronome button could be tapped to start/stop or alternately held to reveal related settings such as bpm and volume. Btw, the metronome does not seem to start at the accent when started after being stopped, which would be helpful. Perhaps the recording buttons could likewise be grouped and accessed to free up room for more buttons/functions.... record undo/erase loop? Another button that might get some attention is the sustain pedal. I would rather it be lower down in the list to be more accessible; also, I find that sustain lock does not work for me for some reason - which might be better positioned or dispensed with as it blocks the lowest note on the scale. The functionality might be easily employed by a double-tap on the icon and tapped again to disable? Finally, pitch bend and mod wheels would be wonderful to have and might be incorporated by having a "performance" layout in which the sidebars are replaced with these useful tools, maybe two to a side and freely assignable. It seems that effects like tremolo (depth and/or speed) would be a likely candidate especially as vibrato likes to have its wiggle on the x axis to itself. I don't know about other ipad users but I am envious of the control parameters that are more suited to the iphone/ipod as the ipad is too big to be wiggling fore and aft.
Well, that's enough for now - I look forward to seeing how this instrument develops, it is already quite mature at 2.0 and I am quite happy to be exploring all on offer currently. Thanks Jesse!