The DS’ stylus and touchscreen make an ideal pocket-able interface: they’re coupled with friendly, conventional arcade buttons, but provide precise control of visual interfaces without using a mouse. (Touch with fingertips is not nearly as accurate, especially on tiny screens.) That’s already inspired quite a bit of music software, but GrooveStep earns extra points for employing a friendly interface for easy, quick pattern sequencing.

Official GrooveStep Site, which includes a limited Flash editor interface demo.


Liz and I got to meet up with GrooveStep creator Martin Robaszewski at winter NAMM, but we weren’t allowed to talk about it — until now. What I can tell you that might not come across in the video:

  • It’s ridiculously fun.
  • The samples sound fantastic. (That humble DS headphone jack can make sounds, folk.)
  • It’s really, really fast: the minimal interface makes on-the-fly pattern making pretty quick.

Official specs so far:

Song Features:
16 tracks with up to 2 samples per track
Tempo: 30-300 BPM

Pattern Editor features:
Variable pattern length: 1-64 steps
Variable pattern playback speeds: 1x, 2x, 4x

That’s all we have in the way of official info: release information is all in the future (when, where, how much, publisher, etc.). But with this and Korg’s DS-10, plus Pro Performer, NitroTracker, and DSMusic Interface (now including Wifi and serial alike), the DS is one hot little mobile music platform.

Side note — hey, bad news; it looks like the DSerial2, the DS serial interface with tilt, is no more? Anyone heard more about this?

  • Hmm samples are nice, but what about a modular synth/tracker for your smartphone:

    SunVox is a small, simple, fast and powerful program for music creation, based on modular synths and tracker-like interface.

    Main features

    * Modular interface.

    * Highly optimized synth algorithmes.

    * Flexible architecture: SunVox can working on variuos devices. For example: PDA with slow CPU – 16bit sound (fixed point arithmetic); or big PC with powerfull CPU: 32bit sound (floating point arithmetic).

    * SunVox engine (without GUI) is open source and distributed under the terms of BSD license.

    * Built-in synthesizers: Generator (saw,triangle,square,noise waveforms); Flanger; Echo; Distortion; Filter (Low-pass, High-pass, Band-pass, Notch); Kicker; Sampler (supported formats: WAV, XI); SpectraVoice (FFT-based synth for analog-like pads); Loop.

    * Supported platforms: Windows, Linux, PalmOS, WindowsCE.

    * Export to WAV.

  • Nice! Looking forward to this one.

  • Wolf

    Another awesome tool for the DS (if you have a flash card) is KnobsAndSlidersDS by Chris McCormick.

    It's a Pure Data patch and a homebrew NDS file that communicate wirelessly through the DS' WFC. Once you get them connected, PD receives data from buttons pressed. You can also send sliders, knobs and toggles which appear on the touchscreen!

    If you've ever used PD, you obviously know of its endless possibilities. I was unoriginal and turned the received data into MIDI notes to VJ wirelessly from my DS.

    Anyways, its cool stuff. And it's free ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Wow, Martin has done some great interface work on Groovestep. Looks like it's pretty fast for editing loops. I hope this will have DSMI support (hint hint ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, sadly the DSerial was discontinued for now but natrium said it might get a slot-2 comeback, which makes sense since most people use slot-1 flashcards now.

    By the way, the long-overdue NitroTracker 0.4 will be out in a few days. There will be some nice new features, so be sure to check it out!

  • bobobobobo

    pretty cool.

  • Pingback: New Stuff » Blog Archive » Create Digital Music ร‚ยป GrooveStep: New Step Sequencer, Pattern Maker for Nintendo DS()

  • Alex

    And what about quality? Too much noise for these DS applications, but no one mentions sound quality of the hardware or software…Korg made its emulation of MS20 but, why a specific emulation? Is it really close to the analog synth???

    Another point is availability of these applications…I don't believe that we will ever see them next to DS games on the selves…

  • Pingback: GrooveStep Digital Music Studio, Complex VCO, The 2 mile Quadruplex, How to Set Up in a Club, genoQs Machines - Nemo, 25 great music-making tips from musicians, SynthDIY, Barcode Beats, My hard drive is experiencing some strange noises, Beautiful Handwrit()

  • Adrian Anders

    Peter, you forgot the DS title that started it all: Electroplankton.

    On a side note, I'm getting a real kick playing the Hanenbow stage in Smash Bros Brawl.

  • Jed

    mine's cooler – do a story on me :p

    and nitrotracker 0.4 soon? nice one 0xtob!

    hope it's got the PSG emulation

  • Jay Vaughan

    This is really great news – I for one have always pondered the powers of the DS for music-making, and got myself a Nitrotracker rig as soon as I could .. now it seems that there is a grand plethora of apps on the way for this wonderful little platform, and I couldn't be happier. Time to ditch the Macbook and just go for a fully pocketable-DAW!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • krimaus

    looks interesting. OXTOB Im glad to hear the dserial will be slot 2. As good as im sure dsmidiwifi is ive not found it usable on windows. Very exciting that the new nitro is nearly there too. Ill get testing when you let it out…

    That sunvox app is really good by the way. I hope ive just missed that one in the past because it deserves some attention.

  • Pingback: GrooveStep Nintendo DS Step Sequencer.()

  • Pingback: links for 2008-04-11 « Dirtybronson()

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Nintendo DS as Hardware Step Sequencer()

  • Pingback: zoink » Blog Archive » d*cksneeze 04/12/2008()

  • Anyone else hoping that some of the homebrew people figure out how to sync with the DS-10 cartridge? Is there any work being done on that? It be amazing if we could have a few different DS' running different apps and all be synced up.


  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » DS News and Videos: Korg DS-10 Arrives 10/14; GrooveStep Set Free Soon()