The first thing to do is just play around! There are a lot of features in ThumbJam, but you can ignore most of them in the beginning. To play just use your fingers or thumbs to tap or drag around in the play area, the notes go from low at the bottom to high at the top. Each instrument may have other controls such a volume or pan (moving the audio between left and right), or vibrato. Sometimes tilting the device back and forth will control volume, sometimes it might bend the pitch of the note. Shaking will usually let you perform vibrato and tremolo. Small text indicators on the screen tell you what controls are active for that instrument. You can use up to five fingers or thumbs (11 on iPads) simultaneously to really make a lot of noise.
The first thing to know is how to switch to different instruments. Just hit the Sound button in the upper left corner, then hit the first item Change Instrument. This brings up a list of the built-in instrument presets which you can scroll through and select. It also contains any saved presets that you create when you create or modify an existing instrument, but we'll get to that later. As a shortcut you can press and hold the Sound button, then drag your finger over to the menu and release it... this works on the other menus as well.
Every instrument preset has a certain properties it was saved with, such as the scale, the key, the note range, effects, etc. You can change any of these things and then save a new preset so you can get back to it quickly later.
One of the first things you might want to change are the scale and key. To change to a different scale, just hit the Sound button, then the Change Scale item. This brings up a panel with a list with the hundreds of available scales to choose from. Because there are so many, they are organized into categories which you can scroll through by sliding your finger on the right side of the list. Several of the common western scales are in the first section called Common, and other familiar ones may be found in the Modal category. Here it pays to experiment by trying out many different scales, to see what best fits your mood. This is made easy because there is always a Play Area to the right where you can always play your current instrument with whichever scale you have selected.
To save a particular scale to a list of favorites, select a scale and hit the Add as Favorite button. It will be added to the favorites list which is accessible by selecting Favorites from the choice box at the top.
You can create your own custom scale by hitting the New button. It will start with the currently selected scale and you can then choose which intervals should be included, as well as choosing equal or just temperament, or even fine-tuning individual intervals with cent resolution. You can choose or create new scale categories to help finding them easier in the main list.
Changing Keys and Range
Next you might want to change the key or the note range of the instrument. There are a few ways to do this in the latest version. First, you can use the sidebar's octave and span + and - buttons, which let you adjust the playable range by octaves. The other way is to use the pitch sidebar (enabled from the Prefs menu).
The pitch sidebar allows you to control the range of notes on screen with more precision. You can show fractional octave ranges, as well as setting the lowest note to be any note in the scale, rather than just a root note. Dragging near the middle of the bar will adjust the entire range up and down, whereas dragging at the top or bottom edge will adjust only that side of the range.
The left sidebar can be toggled on or off from the Prefs menu. The available buttons are:
- Toggle Key popup - this shows or hides the current key selector. The current key is highlighted in yellow. You can leave it shown if you plan to switch keys often while playing. On iPhone/iPod there is also a button here that splits the play area horizontally so that two separately controllable note ranges,keys, and scales can be available simultaneously. Whichever side is touched most recently is modified by the key-change buttons or the octave span controls described below, and is indicated by yellow bars at the top and bottom of the screen. On the iPad, this button is available further down the sidebar.
Additionally, a button with a number on it (1, 2, or 1 | 2) lets you load a secondary instrument that can be quickly switched to using this button. If Split-screen mode is enabled you can select the 1 | 2 option by repeatedly pressing this button, to have both instruments available for simultaneous play, one on each side of the split screen.
- On iPhone/iPod touch the next button toggles an additional section of sidebar with more buttons. These buttons are always available further down the main sidebar on the iPad. They will be described later.
- Sustain button (pedals)-- when pressed this key acts very much like a piano's sustain pedal and will allow any notes still held or played after to continue sustaining even after releasing the note. Releasing the hold button releases any held note. In addition this button can be double-tapped to bring up larger sustain bars at the bottom of the screen. Pressing the Sustain Lock area will allow any currently sustaining notes to stay that way when you release the sustain lock bar. Just press and release the lock area again to release all sustained notes when. You can add further sustained notes by using the Sustain bar. Note that some sounds will not sustain forever because their samples are not looped artificially. Double-tap the sustain button in the sidebar to hide the sustain bars again.
- Glide/Retrigger/Continuum toggle -- this is a quick way to switch between three of the options you'll find on the Edit->Sample page. The settings affect how the instrument responds when dragging a finger around. When the stair-step icon is shown it is in Step mode, which means dragging switches to a new note immediately without any pitch bending or sliding. When the step with a slanted line between is shown, it is in Glide mode, which will cause the note to smoothly transition to the next note in pitch. When it is just a slanted line, it is in Continuum mode, which presents a smooth playing area with lines demarcating the currently selected scale notes. It will still round to the notes in the scale, unless the Scale Snap is turned off in the Edit->Sample page. There are several other parameters discussed later that change how this note switch occurs exactly in the Edit->Sample page.
- Octave Span control - these two buttons let you adjust how many octaves are shown on the play area. Hitting the + button increases the octave span, the '-' reduces it.
- Current Octave - the two buttons at the bottom of the sidebar control which octave the notes start at. This lets you shift up and down by an octave at a time.
Additional buttons are available on the extended sidebar (on iPhone/iPod touch) or further down on the iPad:
- Record - This begins an instrument loop record. It is also available from the Loop menu.
- Mic Record - This begins a loop record using the mic as the input source
- Session Record - This starts or stops a session recording. A session record simply records exactly what you are hearing to a stereo audio file until you stop it. If loops are playing, the recording will start and stop on the next bar boundary, which makes it easier to use the recorded session as a loop later, or for convenient export to other applications.
- Skip Back - this sets the loop playback transport back to the beginning. Can be used when playing or paused.
- Play/Pause - Starts or Pauses loop playback.
- Metronome Toggle - turns the metronome on or off. Metronome controls are found in the Loop menu.
- Toggle Mic Input Monitoring - this button toggles the playthrough of the mic input to headphones, with reverb processing if enabled. This is automatically disabled if the internal speaker is being used to prevent feedback.
- Input Control Mode - this toggles the pitch tracking feature that allows you to play the instruments with your voice or any other pitched audio input captured with the microphone. Additional controls are shown to adjust the performance of this feature, which are described later.
Under the Loop menu (upper right corner) there are several commands available, some of which are also available on the extended sidebar. Record Loop lets you start to record your own playing on the current instrument. When there are no loops yet created, this puts it into a pending state where it is waiting for you to start recording by touching your first note. Once you do, additional buttons appear to let you either Cancel the recording, Finish it, to Retry (cancels and immediately goes back to record), or to Finish Then Record (finishes a loop, then immediately goes back to record).
When you hit Finish it will immediately start looping, so it is important to hit Finish on your first loop at the right time with the music, unless the Metronome is enabled in which case it will round up to the next bar. It automatically determines the tempo based on the length of your loop and an estimated number of bars. You can set the number of beats per bar in the Loop Options page.
For additional loops, recording is a little different. The current setting of the Quantize Start option affects how recording begins. The Quantize start control is available from the control panel accessed with the Settings button. When Quantize Start is On it will wait until the initial loop's start point to actually start recording. With it Off, it will act similarly to how it did initially, waiting until your first touch to begin which could be anytime. In both cases the length of the final loop after you hit Finish will be rounded up to the next bar boundary. In this way the loops will always be in musical sync, always a multiple of the bar length.
To aid in recording additional loops it gives you a beat's worth of slack when you are finishing the loop record, so you won't get an extra unwanted bar of recording when you hit finish a little late. It will truncate the loop length automatically to where you meant it to be.
Your additional loops do not need to be the same length as the initial one, they may be longer or shorter, but they will always be multiples of the bar length. For instance, your initial loop could be a short 1 or 2 bar drumloop, but your bass loop could be 8 or 12 bars in length.
This gives you a lot of flexibility, and even lets you experiment with loops lengths that aren't a multiple of each other, so they may slide across each other over time but still be rhythmically musical because they are all multiples of a bar. Don't be afraid to try things!
You can also record a loop using the microphone, either built-in (for iPhone or iPad, or newer iPod touches) or using the headset mic or external mic accessory (all devices). You will see a button in the upper right corner after Record Loop is first chosen from the menu. It becomes the Finish Record button once record is started. You can also start a mic record from the extended sidebar.
Metronome and Loop Settings
The metronome is handy for keeping you in time with a tempo you select ahead of time. To change the tempo, either press and drag the tempo change button up and down to raise or lower the tempo, or tap it in time with the tempo you desire. You can only set the tempo manually when there are no active loops. The metronome makes an accented sound on the first beat of every bar.
The Loop Options button above the metronome controls brings up a panel that lets you configure other useful looping-related options.
The Beats/Bar control lets you set how many beats are contained in a single bar. For instance, the default value of 4 is equivalent to a time signature of 4/4, a value of 3 is 3/4 (waltz time), etc.
The Quantize Start option was described in the Loop recording section above, it requires loop recording of additional loops to start simultaneously with the initial loop. When the metronome is enabled, having quantize start turned on will then generate a 1 bar count-in when you hit record to make the initial loop. Otherwise it will start when you first touch a note.
The Factor of 2 Loop Lengths option forces additional loop lengths to be power of 2 multiples of the initial loop, or power of 2 factors. For instance, if the initial loop is 2 bars, additional loops can be 1 bar, or 4 bars, or 8 bars, or 16 bars.
The Fixed Loop Length lets you specify ahead of time how long of a loop you want to record (in bars). When enabled, once recording is started there is no need to finish the record manually, it will do it for you. You can change the value anytime so the next loop you record can be a different fixed length, if desired.
Currently there are three choices for the metronome sound, and a volume control to adjust to your preference.
Loading and Saving Loops
The Load button allows you to load previously saved loops or loop sets to start off with. Because ThumbJam provides a way to upload audio files from your computer or other applications (discussed later) these could be anything, from drum loops to entire songs. They may also be a set of loops previously saved from within the app that you wish to restore and continue working on. In addition you may also load audio session recordings that you have previously made (sessions discussed later).
The chooser window that comes up allows you to browse each of these categories and choose which to load. If there are loops currently loaded a popup will let you choose to replace them with the selected item, or to add to the current loops. However, if you enable the Add to current set option at the bottom of the browse window it will always add them as additional loops to the current set. Pressing the Edit button will allow you to delete any loops, loop sets, or session audio files from your device.
The Save button brings up a text entry popup to name and store the currently running loops as a new (or existing) loop set. If you are saving for a second time and use the same name it will save over the existing.
Pressing the Mixer button brings up the loop mixer. From here you can change the volume, mute, adjust the reverb send levels, or delete individual loops. The X button will delete a loop. The Volume slider adjusts a loop's volume, and the [speaker] toggles whether the loop is heard.
The Master Loop Level slider control at the top will adjust all loops' volume in a relative fashion. If the master loop level is lowered 4dB, then all the loops will be lowered 4dB from wherever they were currently. This feature allows you to lower the total level without disturbing the relative levels between loops.
There are also buttons to pause/play, skip back, load, save, mixdown and clear all loops here.
The mixdown feature deserves additional description, as it will take the currently audible (non-muted) loops and mix them down to a single new loop that is the length of the longest loop in the set. It then mutes the originals leaving only the new one playing which should sound identical. You can then choose to delete the originals to reduce clutter and system resource load.
Other Looping Features
The Play/Pause button pauses or resume playback of all existing loops.
The Clear Loops button clears all existing loops. It confirms your intentions with a popup before actually clearing them. Note that you can delete individual loops from the Mixer.
The Delete Last button removes the most recently recorded loop. It does not ask for confirmation, so be careful!
In ThumbJam you can make a recording of everything you hear by using the Session Record feature. By turning on the switch it begins recording to a new stereo WAV file. Everything you play, including active loops, is recorded for as long as the Session Record switch is on. You can get to these via WiFi Transfer, or other exporting options (discussed later) or for auditioning from the loop load feature.
Customizing an Instrument
You aren't limited to the settings defined in the factory default instruments. You can tweak many parameters that affect how an instrument sounds, the interactive expression controls, and the effects. All of these things, plus the key and scale chosen may be stored as new user presets for loading the same way the factory instruments are. It all starts from the Edit button. The Save Preset button lets you save all the current parameters to a new or existing preset that will be selectable in the Change Instrument window.
The Sample edit page has controls for changing the actual instrument sample set to use if you want to start a preset from scratch. Normally you will want to start from one of the factory defaults and then change the other items. Below is a description of all the parameters found on the Sample page:
- Sample Set Button
- This button displays the current sample set used in this instrument. Pressing it brings up a list window of all the available sample sets to choose from. These include the built-in sounds plus any that you have downloaded or created from scratch. For those that you have downloaded or created, you can edit the individual sample parameters by hitting the disclosure button on the right side of each item. More details about that are described later.
- Attack Time
- This adjusts the fade-in time applied to every note played. Increasing this gives a soft feel to the start of the note.
- Release Time
- The release time adjusts the fade-out time for a playing note after a finger is lifted or dragged to a new note. This is important to maintain a realistic sound for many instruments, but you can experiment with it to obtain either a chopped sound if reduced, or a sustained effect if increased.
- Release Stops Note
- When this is on, a note is stopped when a finger is released or dragged away. This is the normal setting for most melodic instruments. If turned off, the entire duration of the note's audio sample will be played irregardless of when the finger is released. This is useful for drum or percussion samples, and other times you always want the full sustain of an instrument. This option is not available for instrument samples that are looped.
- The default for most instruments is On, this control determines whether multiple notes can be played at once (with multiple fingers). When turned off, it is in monophonic mode where only note is played at a time, and any new touches will stop the previous note first. However, this can be useful for lead sounds, because when Glide mode is on (see below) the sound will transition between the notes that can play with multiple fingers. The most recent touch gets priority, but if your other fingers stay down and the most recent touch is released, the previous recent touched note will then be played.
- Drag Changes Pitch
- There are four different modes for how the instrument responds to fingers being dragged around in the play area. Retrigger simply releases the currently played note and starts a new note wherever the touch is next. Glide transitions the note smoothly in pitch to the next note, the notes are transitioned to smoothly using a fixed time specified in the Glide Interval slider. It always glides directly to/from notes in the current scale. However, with Continuum mode enabled, you can control the glide with your finger and the time interval is ignored. If you stop moving your finger the note will snap to the nearest note in the scale. This way you can have that continuous glide feel, but still always end up in tune. Off does nothing when a finger is dragged, the initially touched note is played until the touch is lifted. There are several options that affect how both retrigger and glide work that are discussed below.
- This option is available only in Retrigger mode. When Off, new notes are triggered and the old note is released when dragging. When On it attempts to transition to the next note by maintaining the same sample and position within the playback of that note, only changing the pitch. If the new note is too far out of range, it might switch to a new sample. In other words, this allows for more natural transitions in some instruments.
- Sample Lock
- This option is available only in Glide mode. When Off (the default) new samples are switched to as you glide out of the note range of the current one. When On, the same sample that was used on the initial touch is used no matter how far you drag it. This can be an interesting effect for some instruments, or just unpleasant in others.
- Scale Snap
- This is only active in Continuum mode, when disabled it will not snap the played note to any scale or standard pitch, for those times when you need it.
- Retrigger/Glide Time Interval
- Both Retrigger and Glide mode note transitions can be limited in how fast it switches to the next note. Similar to the way that humans can only play an instrument so fast physically, this control enforces a limit to make playing the instruments more realistic when dragging a finger around the play area. This is also useful with drum sounds. The factory defaults were carefully chosen for each instrument to make them sound realistic, but you are free to change it, to obtain super-human speed or slow things down. The lower the time interval, the faster notes will be allowed to transition when dragging quickly.
In Glide mode, this controls how quickly each note glides into the next one as well.
- Humanize Amount
- This adds a certain amount of random variation in the retrigger time to reduce the machine-gun effect. It is a subtle touch, but can be more pleasing.
The Control tab can be accessed by hitting the Edit, then Controls item. Here you can change how the instrument responds to shaking, tilting, or dragging horizontally in the play area. There are five different controls:
- The volume of all the currently playing notes can be adjusted on the fly either by so-called Vertical Tilt, or the X-axis. Vertical Tilt is the motion of tilting the device toward you and away from you, as you would do when picking it up off a table. When horizontal (screen facing the ceiling) the volume will be the lowest, and when facing you at roughly 45 degree angle it will be the loudest. The inverted vertical tilt flips the direction, so it is loudest when holding it flat. Choosing X-Axis instead lets you control volume of a certain note by how close it is to center of the screen. It will get quieter towards each left or right edge. The Min slider lets you adjust how quiet it will be allowed to get.
- Pan control is how the sound is mixed between the left and right speaker or headphone. It can be set as X-axis, Y-axis, or Horizontal Tilt. X-axis control is defined by where a finger is from left to right on the screen, as you would expect, left pans the sound to the left, etc. Y-axis changes panning as the finger goes up/down (with pitch) where up pans to the right and down pans to the left. H. Tilt (horizontal tilt) pans as you tilt the the device left and right.
- The vibrato control can be enabled for shake, and modulates the pitch of the instrument up and down along with the shaking. The harder you shake the more the pitch will be bent in either direction as you move. A Finger setting is also available (the default on iPad patches) which lets you perform vibrato by wiggling your finger on the screen while your finger is down. The Max Depth control adjusts the sensitivity of pitch bending relative to the shaking/wiggling. A higher depth will increase the range of the bend given the same shaking force (or wiggle extent).
- Similar to vibrato in options, tremolo modulates the volume of the instrument up and down along with shaking. In order to get the most realistic sounding response from instruments, both vibrato and tremolo are usually used together.
- Pitch Bend
- Pitch bending in a fixed manner can be done with either vertical or horizontal tilting. V. Tilt is he motion of tilting toward or away from you, along with the inverted form. H. Tilt is tilting left and right. In both cases the pitch bend is applied relative to how the device was held when the note was started. Any further tilt from that position will begin the pitch bend up or down. The bend is reset whenever note is retriggered to make it easier to use. Also, only the most recently hit note is bent using this control. The Bend Limit control affects the maximum number of notes that the tilt motion will bend the note.
ThumbJam includes Reverb, Delay, and resonant low-pass filter effects to make the sound more engaging. The reverb effect is global, it can be applied to everything that is played, including loops, which have their own reverb send levels. The delay effect is only applied to the currently loaded instrument and the delay-affected sound is recorded into loops.
When Reverb is enabled there are two controls that affect it, Room Size and Level. Room Size adjusts the apparent largeness of the reverberation, from small and subtle to large and cavernous. The Level control is actually a reverb send level for the current playing instrument. When you record a loop, this level is saved with the loop and used during playback. It can later be adjusted from the loop mixer.
Delay gives the sound a repeating echo that fades away over time. The Delay Time control affects how quickly the sound repeats and is represented in milliseconds. However, this delay also supports a Tempo Sync feature so the delay can also be specified in terms of the current loop tempo to increase musical usefulness. When there is an active loop and the tempo is set, and Tempo Sync is enabled, the delay time is adjusted with the secondary slider in terms of 16th notes.
The Feedback control affects how the quickly the repeated echo fades away, the lower the value the quicker the echo will fade. In fact, 0% will not repeat at all beyond the initial echo, and 99% will almost repeat forever. The Level control affects the overall volume of the echo. When thhe Ping-Pong switch is enabled, the echo will bounce back and forth between the left and right speaker to give the sound more motion.
A resonant low-pass filter is also available to provide some interesting modulation of the instruments. You can control the cutoff frequency of the filter using the horizontal position of your finger on the screen, or by vertical or horizontal tilt. The Cutoff Limit control sets the maximum frequency of the cutoff for control purposes. When X-axis cutoff control is selected, the right edge of the screen sets to the lowest cutoff frequency, and the left side the cutoff limit. The Resonance and Q controls affect the tonal shaping of the filter, but can make the sound unstable if set too high. Watch out for your ears! Currently the filter applies to the instrument as a whole and not to individual touches.
Volume / iPod
Here you will find a master system volume control (same as the hardware volume) which controls the level of all audio on the device. Also available is an App Vol Boost slider which applies extra gain to the ThumbJam generated audio only, however it can lead to distortion and clipping, so it is only recommended if you need to increase the level relative to any iPod music you might be playing.
The Instrument Mute switch, if enabled, will prevent any played instruments from sounding. This is useful primarily when using ThumbJam as a MIDI controller, playing an external instrument.
The Force to Mono switch, if enabled, prevents any left-right panning to occur even if the preset has a panning control set to X-axis. This is useful when plugging your device into a single channel in an amplifier or PA system.
The button with an image of a CD and musical note brings up a playlist selection window allowing you to build a custom playlist from your iPod music library to play along with in the app. Play, pause, skip forward and skip back buttons are along the bottom to control the playback of music you select. If you are playing music in the iPod application before you start ThumbJam, it will continue playing while inside the app.
The Silence All button will stop any playing loops and silence any sustained notes in case things get a little out of hand.
ThumbJam lets you record new samples and build an instrument with them directly inside the app! Just go to Sound->Create Instrument to get started. First, choose whether this will be a melodic instrument (pitched) or percussive with independent samples (One-shot). If you choose Pitched, each sample will have a properly set base note matching the pitch that it represents. When playing, the app chooses the closest sample in pitch to start with and then adjusts the playback rate to get the actual played pitch. In this way you get realistic sounding instruments across a wide pitch range.
To record a sample from the built-in microphone (on iPhone or iPad) or with a plugged in external headset microphone or attached mic device, just hit the Record button. With the Auto option enabled it will not start recording until you make a noise, and it will automatically stop recording when you become quiet again. This feature works best when you are in a quiet environment. If you want full control over the starting and stopping, just switch Auto off and each press of Record will start and stop the recording.
As you record samples they will show up in the list below. ThumbJam attempts to guess what the pitch of your sample is but is not always accurate. To adjust the pitch and the samples start, stop and looping parameters select the sample in the list and the sample editing pane will appear. The controls are as follows:
- Looped switch defines whether the sample should
automatically repeat when the note is held. Otherwise, playback of the note will end with the length of the sample.
You can also import audio files using the WiFi Transfer interface or AudioPaste to use as samples in a new instrument. Instead of Record, press the Import New button to bring up a file browser of all available samples. There are two categories, Uploaded and Recorded. The Uploaded section contains any samples transferred via WiFi or pasted in using AudioPaste. The Recorded section lets you grab samples from other instruments you have previously created.
You can audition the samples to choose which you would like to choose, and you can select multiple simultaneous samples to import together. When you upload a ZIP file of samples from the WiFi interface it will create a folder with those samples and these are represented in the file browse interface with [ ] and indentation. If you select one of the folder names it will select (or deselect) all files beneath it.
If the files are named using a specific convention, the appropriate note they represent will be set automatically. For instance, if the last portion of the filename before the file extension is _C2 the sample will be set as a C note in octave 2. Accordingly, a _FS4 represents an F# in the 4th octave. An example of a full filename would be piano_E3.wav.
Additionally, if your audio file is in the AIFF format and encoded with the pitch and looping information (the SMPL chunk) those values will be automatically used to fill in the appropriate fields in sample editor.
Samples may also be deleted from the device in the browsing interface, by pressing the Edit button then tapping the red delete icon on the entry and confirming.
Downloading Free Instruments and Loops
The Download Samples item in the Sound menu brings up the list of currently available Instruments and Loops that can be freely downloaded from Sonosaurus. There are many additional instruments available, as well as several drumloops. Keep a watch out for new items in there, usually announced via the in-app news feed.
Preferences and Miscellaneous Settings
The Prefs button brings up a menu with the following miscellaneous items:
This is where you enable the local web server that gives you access to the web interface allowing you to upload and download loops, instruments and sessions. You must be on a WiFi network for this feature to operate, it will not function on a 3G cellular network. Just switch the Enable Server switch to ON, and type the web address displayed on the page into your web browser on a computer on the same network.
The web interface is split into different sections for each type of content that can be transferred.
- Instruments (SampleSets)
Here is where SampleSets may be uploaded or downloaded. Information about each are shown, along with links to download or delete them from the device. To upload an instrument that was obtained from the forums or created externally by a user, just choose the file, and press the Upload button. This should be a ZIP archive containing the proper instrument description files and audio files. For more information about the format see the online Forums at http://thumbjam.com .
- Recorded Instruments
This section allows you to download or delete any instruments that were created or recorded in the application. They are listed separately from the downloaded/uploaded samplesets.
If you have individual audio files you would like to use as samples when creating a new instrument in the app, upload them here. You can upload a ZIP file of multiple audio files or a single audio file that may be later imported into a new instrument. If you name these files so that they end with an _ followed by the note name and octave like example_A4.wav or example_DS2.wav (D sharp), they will be automatically configured when imported into a new instrument.
- User Scales
You can create your own custom scales in either the Scala format [.scl] or ThumbJam native format [.sxml]. The Scala file format is described at http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/.
- Loops and Loop Sets
- Here you can upload and download or delete any loops or loop sets. A LoopSet should be a ZIP file containing a previously exported loop set from ThumbJam which contains some metadata files along with the audio files.
A session is a stereo WAV file recorded in the app using the Record Session feature. They are named with a date and timestamp and may be downloaded or deleted from this interface.
For uploading audio loops, you can either upload a ZIP file containing one or more audio files, or a single audio file. These loops are then available to load and play along with from within the Loop menu in ThumbJam.
Import / Export
ThumbJam supports many ways of getting media in and out of the application, in addition to the WiFi Transfer described earlier.
Copying and pasting audio files between other applications on the device that support it. It uses Sonoma Wireworks AudioCopy and AudioPaste as well as Intua's convention for using the general pasteboard.
To mixdown the currently playing loops for export as a 16bit stereo WAV file, choose one of the items under Export Current Loop Mixdown: Copy Loop Mixdown puts the 16bit stereo mixdown audio file on the AudioCopy and generic pasteboard for later pasting in other apps that support it. Email Loop Mixdown lets you send an email with the audio attached. Finally, you can upload the audio to your SoundCloud account with the Share to SoundCloud item. This allows you to login (persistently until you logout), or even sign up for soundcloud, right in the app. The SoundCloud share interface also supports sending notifications via FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Foursquare, when configured appropriately. Open Mixdown in Other App will let you share the mixdown with any another application on your device that are registered to handle WAV audio files
If the Save MIDI Files option is enabled in the MIDI Control preferences, then you have the option to directly share the multi-track MIDI representation of your active recorded loops. Choose either email or Open MIDI in Other App, which will let you share the midi file with any installed application that is registered to handle MIDI files.
In the Export Other section, the Browse Audio to Export item will bring up an interface to browse all the audio files available for copy within ThumbJam. You can browse the loops inside any saved Loop Sets, individual loop files that were uploaded into the app, recorded sessions, or any samples that were created or uploaded previously. If you have an active loop recorded and playing, you need to make sure to save it as a loopset before trying to copy individual loops from it. Selecting an item will audition the audio so you can verify it is the correct choice. Pressing the play/pause button in the lower right will stop or restart playback, as will selecting the item again. Once you find the file you want to copy, press the Copy Selected button in the lower left. The audio file will be copied to both the Sonoma Wireworks pasteboard as well Intua's general pasteboard. Sonoma's pasteboard will hold up to 12 items, so you can copy multiple items before switching to another app to paste. You can also export these items to SoundCloud, via email, or to the iTunes Document Sharing area with the corresponding buttons at the bottom.
The Export Instruments lets you package up one of the recorded instruments you created in the application and send them via email, or copy them to the iTunes Document Sharing area. You can access those from iTunes when your device is plugged in, and you go to the Applications tab of your device.
The Export Loop Sets lets you package up one of the saved loop sets you created in the application and send them via email, or copy them to the iTunes Document Sharing area. You can access those from iTunes when your device is plugged in, and you go to the Applications tab of your device. Note that mixed-down loops or sessions are automatically available in the shared document area with no additional step necessary.
To import audio from one of the pasteboards, select either the Paste Sample or Paste Loop items. An interface will come up allowing you to choose the source, which can be any one of the entries on Sonoma's Pasteboard or the general pasteboard. The file can be pasted into ThumbJam as either a new loop or a new sample. The interface also lets you specify a number of loops, but there is generally no reason to use more than 1 in ThumbJam because it has built-in looping support. Press Paste and the file will be imported into the app, showing up with an appropriate timestamped name in either the Loops area or the Samples area for later use. If the Load Pasted Loop switch is enabled, it will immediately load the pasted audio for loop playback.
To import any media from the iTune Document sharing area, select the Import from Shared Docs item. It brings up a listing of the available files for importing, where already imported (or already existing in the app) files are grayed out. You should choose the appropriate import operation from the buttons on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, import as Loop (or LoopSet ZIP), Sample, Instrument (ZIP file), or scale (.scl or .sxml).
Note that user created scales in ThumbJam are automatically available in the document sharing area for exporting, with no action needed.
MIDI General Options
These features allow you to use ThumbJam as a live musical controller on a WiFi network, or with various hardware adapters to play software instruments, sequence MIDI events, etc on your computer.
The MIDI events it sends by default are note on/off messages (with velocity), damper pedal CC when the sustain button is used, and optionally pitch bend, channel volume, channel pan, and key pressure if enabled by the switches at the bottom. Also, an all-notes-off message is sent when the all-off button is pressed from the main play area. Press this anytime you get stuck notes.
Enable Network Session switch enables the CoreMIDI output over WiFi.
Hide Own Ports when enabled will disable our virtual MIDI ports so other apps cannot auto-connect to us.
Use DSMI Turns on the legacy feature to use DSMI standard to broadcast MIDI messages over the local network to any listening computers. Visit http://dsmi.tobw.net to read about how you can use it on Mac, Windows or Linux, and download the DSMIDIWifi server for your platform at http://code.google.com/p/dsmi/ (look for the DSMI Server). You just run the server on your computer, and it will create virtual midi device which your apps can listen to.
Save MIDI Loops enables the saving of a multi-track MIDI (Type 1) file containing the MIDI representation of the set of recorded loops. Note on/off along with any of the events enabled below are stored into the file. You can export this directly using the new MIDI export features in the Import/Export area of the preferences. You can also find it stored with any archived loopsets as loops.mid.
Pitchbend Range specifies the range of notes in +/- semitones that the MIDI pitchbend messages apply to. The default and the MIDI standard is 2, but you can adjust if the source or destination MIDI device or software instrument uses a different range. ThumbJam will also respond to the RPN 0,0 that sets the pitchbend range and change this value appropriately.
Send Pitchbend enables the sending of pitchbend messages. This is recommended if you want the most expressive use of ThumbJam as a controller, however it can produce a lot of events which might affect the performance if you are using the wifi midi session.
Send Pitchbend Range This causes ThumbJam to send out the pitchbend range RPN (0,0) whenever it is changed in the app. This defaults to off, because not all devices/software behave appropriately when it is sent.
Send Pan Enables sending of the channel pan CC whenever panning is adjusted in the app.
Send Volume Enables sending of the channel volume CC whenever main volume is adjusted in the app (eg, with tilt).
Send Key Pressure Enables sending of the the key pressure events (polyphonic aftertouch) when the volume is changed per-touch when set to x-axis control.
Send Chan Pressure Enables sending of the the channel pressure events (aftertouch) when the volume is changed per-touch when set to x-axis control.
Send Continuation NRPN A special convention used among certain iOS apps (including those from Wizdom Music, such as Geo Synth, Morphwiz and SampleWiz) allows for smooth continuous bending even across note on/off boundaries using this message. ThumbJam supports it, and you should enable it if using ThumbJam with one of those apps.
Channel Start This sets what MIDI channel should be used for output. If channel per touch is enabled it represents the channel number range to start with.
Channel Per Touch This enables a special mode that allows for per-touch pitch bending by cycling through new midi channels for each note played. Some synthesizers support this kind of Omni behavior by allowing the synth to respond to multiple channels simultaneously.
Channel Range This sets how many midi channels to cycle through, starting from the Channel Start, when Channel Per Touch is enabled.
Output Transpose Sets a note transpose amount for all outgoing note events
Input Scale Lock This activates a special feature where incoming MIDI note events are forced to play only notes in the currently selected scale in the app. Adjacent white keys will play adjacent notes in the scale, so the normal rules don't apply. This becomes kind of the keyboard equivalent to the ThumbJam touch interface, for instance if the Minor Blues scale is selected you can play that scale just by dragging your fingers up and down the white keys of a MIDI keyboard controller.
Omni Mode When enabled ThumbJam will respond to all MIDI channels (starting from Channel Start specified below), supporting the equivalent functionality on receive as described above in the Channel Per Touch option. Enable this when being played with a controller that supports per-note pitch bend in this way.
Use Key Pressure When enabled, ThumbJam will adjust the volume of an individual note if key pressure (polyphonic aftertouch) messages are received.
Use Channel Pressure When enabled, ThumbJam will adjust the volume of an individual note if channel pressure (aftertouch) messages are received.
Use Program Change Accept Bank Select and Program Change messages to load instruments or scales. The following conventions are followed, and apply to the instrument based on the channel number of the event:
Bank 00 - Program changes after receiving a bank select of 0 will load the Default preset instrument with the given index, as displayed in the Instrument Preset list's Default section.
Bank 01 - Program changes after receiving a bank select of 1 will load the User presets instruments with the given index, as displayed in the Instrument Preset list's User section.
Bank 02 - Program changes after receiving a bank select of 2 will change the selected slot in the Quick Key/Scale set (as shown when pressing the #/b button in the sidebar).
Thru Mode Passes any MIDI input received on enabled inputs out all enabled outputs, while translating any note events with the Scale Lock feature if enabled.
Channel Start This sets what MIDI channel ThumbJam responds to for input. If Omni Mode is enabled it represents the channel number to start with.
Input Transpose Sets a note transpose amount for all incoming note events
MIDI Output Connections
This section will list all the available destinations that ThumbJam can currently send MIDI events to. If the Network session is enabled, it will show up as Network Session. You can specify exactly what destinations you want to send MIDI output to. These preferences are remembered for next time the destination is available. Voice output (note events, CC, etc) is independently selectable from MIDI clock output.
MIDI Input Connections
This section will list all the available sources of MIDI that ThumbJam can currently receieve events from. If the Network session is enabled, it will show up as Network Session. You can specify which sources you want to receive MIDI events from here. These preferences are remembered for next time the source is available. Note that in some cases with virtual MIDI ports, another application may send events directly to us, and in that case you will not want to enable a connection from their virtual input or you might get double events. Voice input (note events, CC, etc) is independently selectable from MIDI clock input listening.
Also note that MIDI clock tempo information is ignored when there are loops already loaded. No timestretching is done. MIDI clock input is primarily useful for the Stop and Start events, as well as defining the tempo when all loops are cleared, before recording new loops.
The Send Enabled switch enables broadcasting of different OSC messages for note events, volume, panning, pitch bend to the host and port specified. You can adjust the ID # to use as well. By default the OSC messages are broadcast on your local area network to the specified port, but you can also set a specific host by IP address to send the messages to.
The # below in the OSC paths represent the OSC ID set above. The messages it sends right now are:
- /tj/#/note notenum velocity on/off
- Where notenum is the midi note number of the pitch, velocity is from 0 to 1 and on/off is either 0 for note-off and 1 for note-on.
- /tj/#/pan pos
- Where pos is between -1.0 for full left and 1.0 for full right.
- /tj/#/bend amount
- Bend amount is -1.0 to 1.0
- /tj/#/vol level
- Where level is 0.0 to 1.0
- /tj/#/damper [0/1]
- Where 1 is pedal down (active) and 0 is up.
Sent when the panic/alloff button is pressed in the GUI
You'll notice that latency and performance might not be ideal if you are using a regular WiFi router. To get it the best performance and lowest-latency you'll want to setup a direct wifi network from your computer. Sometimes called Ad-Hoc, it is usually easy to set up.
- On a Mac
Click on the Wifi menubar (the bars) and choose Create Network... make up a name and hit OK. Then on your device, go to the main Preferences app and choose Networking, and pick that wifi network you just created. Now you have a direct wifi connection between the device your laptop and it is much more playable. The downside is that your laptop and device now have no internet if it was using wifi for that before.
- On Windows
- On Linux
This feature allows multiple nearby devices to share a common tempo, scale and key which can be especially useful if jamming together when using speakers or plugged into a PA system.
To connect devices, one should be designated the Leader. When a device is selected as a follower it will search the local area for any leaders and allow you to connect to it.
Once the Follower is joined with a Leader any changes to the currently active loop tempo, scale or key on the Leader should be reflected in any of the Followers that have enabled it.
This is a miscellaneous set of parameters that control various aspects of the software.
Background Audio enables the audio engine to stay active when the app is put in the background so that loops will continue playing, and so you can control it via MIDI with other apps using virtual ports.
Power Saver When background audio is enabled, this feature will automatically put the audio engine to sleep (saving battery) when there is no activity for 10 minutes.
Active in Background option is available when running on iOS4 or later, and controls whether you want ThumbJam to continue running in the background when you close or switch to another app. This is primarily useful when loops are playing, so you can accompany yourself with another app, or when you have virtual MIDI input playing the instruments.
Power Saver when enabled will automatically put the backgrounded app to sleep if there is no activity for 10 minutes. This allows you to keep the active in background option enabled but not have to worry about the app consuming resources when you aren't using it. The app will stay active if there is any loop playing, or if there is any incoming MIDI activity, or outgoing MIDI clock activity.
Mixdown Reverb controls whether or not reverb is rendered with the loop mixdown operation into the final audio file. If you intend to apply reverb effects later after exporting it, then turn this option off.
Count-in Bars How many bars to count-in before a quantized start record operation begins.
Reference Tuning (Hz) adjusts the global tuning of the instruments by specifying the frequency in Hz used for the A above middle C on a piano, commonly called A440 for the standard frequency of that note.
Buffer Size this is an advance control that lets you specify the internal buffer size used for audio processing. A lower value will result in less latency when playing the instrument, but also increasing CPU processing load. The Auto setting chooses an appropriate value based on the capabilities of the device. If you experience crackling audio, then try setting the buffersize to the next highest value than what is displayed. Note that when you are playing iPod music in the background, this setting may not have any effect, it will be forced to the value Apple requires (often 1024). Note that the Total Output Latency gives you an idea of the minimum latency you will experience with the current setup. This number may vary based on what output route is used, for instance bluetooth headsets or AirPlay video mirroring will have have higher latencies than when using regular headphones, or line out, even with the same buffer size set.
Max Polyphony Sets the maximum number of notes that may be sounding at one time for an instrument. Decreasing this may also decrease processing load if you run into problems on older devices. On faster devices you should be able to increase it if you find yourself running out of notes.
The Show Note Names option enables/disables the display of the note names on the play area.
The Use Interval Names shows the musical numeric interval of the notes relative to the current key instead of their normal names.
Two Finger Pitchbar This sets the pitchbar to only function when two fingers are used simultaneously on it. This allows you to still play near right edge of the screen if only one finger is used.
The Check for news option allows you to disable the automatic downloading of any updated news items from the ThumbJam server. It is recommended to leave this enabled, so you are notified when new instruments or other useful updates or tips are available.
Auto-Hide Preset Chooser when turned OFF, will cause the instrument chooser to remain open when choosing a new instrument. The default (and previous app behavior) is for this option to be ON, so that the chooser list is dismissed when a new instrument is chosen.
Auto-Hide Loop Chooser when turned OFF, will cause the loop loading page to remain open after loading a loop. The default (and previous app behavior) is for this option to be ON, so that the loop load page is dismissed when a new loop is loaded.
Background Color There are currently three options for background style, the new Default, the original Classic (from version 1.X on iPhone/iPod), or the Gray color that was used for the iPad on v.1.X.
Reverb Complexity To reduce CPU usage and make less capable devices more responsive, it may sometimes be desirable to lower the quality of reverb. The Auto setting automatically reduces the quality if utilization becomes too high.
The Graphics Update selection is another means to reduce CPU usage when more responsiveness is desired. Turning it to Off will eliminate any updates when playing or dragging notes, and no loop position animations will occur. This is generally only useful on older devices.