step-complete

You’ve watched in awe as artists dazzle on hardware like Ableton Push, Maschine, and the MPC. But maybe your fingers just haven’t been as nimble, haven’t been as quick.

Now, that might change. In a love child of Guitar Hero and a drum lesson, Melodics is here to save your pad-drumming chops.

home-screen

Traditional instrumentalists have long had plenty of ways of developing their skills, whether it be on a piano, a drum kit, or a contrabassoon. But pad drummers have been more or less on their own. Melodics’ solution is to combine detailed, musically-specific lessons with real-time on-screen feedback – after all, your pad controller is most likely already connected to a computer. Download a desktop app (Mac available now, Windows promised soon), and you can learn routines and get rated on your accuracy as your practice.

Some lessons cover basics – the paradiddles of the finger-drumming set, if you will. So you might start learning simple, reusable patterns. Others cover full songs, layer by layer. Artists range from The Gaslamp Killer to Jeremy Ellis to DJ Jazzy Jeff (suggesting turntablism may figure into this in the future). One note – any reason that all the artists so far are men?

Introducing Melodics from Melodics on Vimeo.

I have to apologize a bit for the Guitar Hero metaphor – maybe, really, this is what Guitar Hero should have been. The problem with the arcade game format was that it was disconnected from the musical experience. The drum and keyboard inputs came closer, but the guitar was more a parody of the actual instrument. And all of those conventional instruments have their own pedagogy, developed over centuries and taught worldwide by wildly competent human beings.

Not so with finger drumming. Grid controllers don’t really look like other instruments. The artists backing Melodics have really invented their own techniques – even the question of what to play on the grid isn’t entirely obvious, since it can theoretically trigger anything from samples to melodies to drums. And on the grid, virtuosity is arguably even more important than it might be on an instrument. Unlike an instrument, you also can’t easily join an ensemble right away to motivate those chops; it’s really you versus the machine. Having an app running on the machine might begin to shift that – and build armies of talented finger drummers who are then braver about jamming together. That’s more appealing than just imagining these grids will only be triggering quantized loops for the rest of time.

pre-play

The idea was enough to motivate former Serato CEO Sam Gribben to get behind the new startup, too. We’re in touch with Sam, so if you’re curious about what they’re doing here, and have questions – or challenges – for the upstart endeavor, let us know.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a Mac and just about anything with pads on it, give Melodics a try and let us know what you think.

http://www.melodics.com/

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  • Kris Keyser

    This looks awesome- the obvious questions for me are – when will there be WIndows (or even iOS) support for this app? I can see myself losing hours to practicing with this system.

    • steveoath

      It’s on windows dude.

      • Kris Keyser

        from http://www.melodics.com/download:”Melodics is supported on OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or newer. Coming soon for Windows”

        • steveoath

          Damn. I was looking at the site on my phone, doesn’t say coming soon. Just download now. That’s disappointing. ?

  • Kris Keyser

    This looks awesome- the obvious questions for me are – when will there be WIndows (or even iOS) support for this app? I can see myself losing hours to practicing with this system.

    • steveoath

      It’s on windows dude.

      • Kris Keyser

        from http://www.melodics.com/download:”Melodics is supported on OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or newer. Coming soon for Windows”

        • steveoath

          Damn. I was looking at the site on my phone, doesn’t say coming soon. Just download now. That’s disappointing. ?

          • Kris Keyser

            apparently it’s on Windows now! 🙂

  • thirdsun

    Just tried it, and while the pricing for the pro subscriptions isn’t exactly cheap, what I saw from the free lessons (and I’m not done with them yet) was nothing short of amazing – not just fun, but actually very helpful.
    I always had problems coordinating multiple fingers in different intervals, which result in recording percussion and drum parts one by one or just going back to the mouse and programming those sections manually.
    Barely half an hour with this app and I already feel as if I made huge progress.

    Needless to say that this screams for an iPad app.

    • Same, I’m allready much better.
      Really cool!

  • thirdsun

    Just tried it, and while the pricing for the pro subscriptions isn’t exactly cheap, what I saw from the free lessons (and I’m not done with them yet) was nothing short of amazing – not just fun, but actually very helpful.
    I always had problems coordinating multiple fingers in different intervals, which result in recording percussion and drum parts one by one or just going back to the mouse and programming those sections manually.
    Barely half an hour with this app and I already feel as if I made huge progress.

    Needless to say that this screams for an iPad app.

    • Same, I’m allready much better.
      Really cool!

  • Sasquatchfuzz

    Looks nice but not crazy about another subscription model.

  • Sasquatchfuzz

    Looks nice but not crazy about another subscription model.

  • Anton.a1

    Just tried this, and it does not recognize Maschine as a controller?

    • Yes, I’m using with a Maschine Mikro MK2.

      • Anton.a1

        It seems they’re working on fixing a bug when it’s used with Maschine Studio.

  • Anton.a1

    Just tried this, and it does not recognize Maschine as a controller?

    • I’m using it with a Maschine Mikro MK2.

      • Anton.a1

        I got it working with the Studio! They sent me a template. At first I thought you had to click the Maschine Studio name in the options (instead of the default Keyboard option). Then I realized you have to check the ‘checkmark’ button to it’s left. I’m now up and running. Now back to practicing.

  • Polite Society

    Nice. I’ll try it out with my quneo tonight. Not crazy about subscription models though. Would much prefer a per song purchase system, ala all the other systems out there. Then if I forget about it or lose interest, there isn’t a cost hanging over my head. Though it might be worth it for one month.

  • Polite Society

    Nice. I’ll try it out with my quneo tonight. Not crazy about subscription models though. Would much prefer a per song purchase system, ala all the other systems out there. Then if I forget about it or lose interest, there isn’t a cost hanging over my head. Though it might be worth it for one month.

  • Alkomb

    Neat.

  • Alkomb

    Neat.

  • Just tried it. Liked it. Got stuck on 7: impeach the beat. left and right are easy, but doing the kick with the hi hat is pretty tough for me, at least with finger drums. I found it pretty easy to use. Transitions were a bit slow considering how short the drum patterns are. I didn’t like how spacebar was retry if you got below a certain grade and then switched to “next” if you get above it. In that way I was in the “retry” mind set but ended up going to the next level.

    Let’s see what else. I think there needs to be more of a mention of tempo and control for getting beats that are hard. I don’t need to try that song at full speed if I just need to figure out how to get my left and right fingers working together. Just working that pattern at a varispeed below that 1/2 1/4 1/8 speed would be much easier and more in tune with the way I learned instruments with a metronome.

    In the end it was neat and somewhat addictive. There were a couple times when it lagged quite a bit and stuttered. Also on the house beats I noticed that the kick was slightly off from the beat (at least on the grid) I assume that was sort of on purpose, but… I dunno. Sorry to use this comment as a review, but I figure the CDM people might enjoy. I’m using a mid 2012 MacbookAir on 10.10.5 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 w/ an rme babyface and a push. Also sometimes the push wouldn’t trigger the lights when I hit them close together, fwiw. Anyway, good luck with it and I’ll work on not hitting the hihat with my swing kick.

    • replying to myself. sent them a mapping for the k-board (following their template in /Users/rseymour/Library/Application Support/Melodics/Melodics/devices just have to chmod +w to make it writable after you edit it and make the port name whatever shows up in Audio/MIDI setup) Oddly I got that beat that was giving me so much trouble yesterday, which makes me wonder if the drilling at speed is actually not the worst way to learn a new beat. aaaanyway, now I have to play with this Ploytec PL2 I got today.

  • Just tried it. Liked it. Got stuck on 7: impeach the beat. left and right are easy, but doing the kick with the hi hat is pretty tough for me, at least with finger drums. I found it pretty easy to use. Transitions were a bit slow considering how short the drum patterns are. I didn’t like how spacebar was retry if you got below a certain grade and then switched to “next” if you get above it. In that way I was in the “retry” mind set but ended up going to the next level.

    Let’s see what else. I think there needs to be more of a mention of tempo and control for getting beats that are hard. I don’t need to try that song at full speed if I just need to figure out how to get my left and right fingers working together. Just working that pattern at a varispeed below that 1/2 1/4 1/8 speed would be much easier and more in tune with the way I learned instruments with a metronome.

    In the end it was neat and somewhat addictive. There were a couple times when it lagged quite a bit and stuttered. Also on the house beats I noticed that the kick was slightly off from the beat (at least on the grid) I assume that was sort of on purpose, but… I dunno. Sorry to use this comment as a review, but I figure the CDM people might enjoy. I’m using a mid 2012 MacbookAir on 10.10.5 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 w/ an rme babyface and a push. Also sometimes the push wouldn’t trigger the lights when I hit them close together, fwiw. Anyway, good luck with it and I’ll work on not hitting the hihat with my swing kick.

    • replying to myself. sent them a mapping for the k-board (following their template in /Users/rseymour/Library/Application Support/Melodics/Melodics/devices just have to chmod +w to make it writable after you edit it and make the port name whatever shows up in Audio/MIDI setup) Oddly I got that beat that was giving me so much trouble yesterday, which makes me wonder if the drilling at speed is actually not the worst way to learn a new beat. aaaanyway, now I have to play with this Ploytec PL2 I got today.

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    One question. How important is it to use a grid of pads with this? Would it work just as well with other types of drum controllers? I use a Zendrum, and have often thought this kind of app would be great to develop my skills. I assume I could get it set up for use with the Zendrum by mapping MIDI notes in the right way. But I don’t know how important the grid layout is in this app. If it’s not that important, it could also be used with e-drums that you hit with sticks. Or any number of other alternative controllers. I’ll give it a try when I have a chance, but thought I’d ask. I’m sure there are advantages towards creating a learning system specifically for grid drums, but it’d also be nice if there were a general purpose tool that works with any controller that sends MIDI notes (and perhaps allows you to load in any MIDI file as a score to follow).

    I have the symmetrical, “laptop” version of the Zendrum, so that might help make some of the techniques closer to what happens with a grid. There are also differences in technique that are about more than just the layout of pads, though – in general, you move your hands and fingers around a lot less when using a Zendrum (feels a bit more like typing, where there’s sort of a “home row”, and your fingers extend to hit other pads from there … and switching between left and right hands seems less important than with grid finger drumming or drumming on a drum set).

    • I made a mapping for the k-board (pad keyboard controller from kmi) and it ended up not really working entirely with some of the lessons. After messing around with it it really seems to need a midi learn capability to support odd pad setups. With the right mapping it works pretty well though.

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    One question. How important is it to use a grid of pads with this? Would it work just as well with other types of drum controllers? I use a Zendrum, and have often thought this kind of app would be great to develop my skills. I assume I could get it set up for use with the Zendrum by mapping MIDI notes in the right way. But I don’t know how important the grid layout is in this app. If it’s not that important, it could also be used with e-drums that you hit with sticks. Or any number of other alternative controllers. I’ll give it a try when I have a chance, but thought I’d ask. I’m sure there are advantages towards creating a learning system specifically for grid drums, but it’d also be nice if there were a general purpose tool that works with any controller that sends MIDI notes (and perhaps allows you to load in any MIDI file as a score to follow).

    I have the symmetrical, “laptop” version of the Zendrum, so that might help make some of the techniques closer to what happens with a grid. There are also differences in technique that are about more than just the layout of pads, though – in general, you move your hands and fingers around a lot less when using a Zendrum (feels a bit more like typing, where there’s sort of a “home row”, and your fingers extend to hit other pads from there … and switching between left and right hands seems less important than with grid finger drumming or drumming on a drum set).

    • I made a mapping for the k-board (pad keyboard controller from kmi) and it ended up not really working entirely with some of the lessons. After messing around with it it really seems to need a midi learn capability to support odd pad setups. With the right mapping it works pretty well though.

  • EricM

    Just did quite a few lessons with a QuNeo. Was lots of fun. Learning a lot on what I guess you can call the economy of fingers, like when you should be using one finger vs. multiple. The software lost connection with the drum pad on a couple occasions while going back and forth on the interface (but never during a lesson).

  • EricM

    Just did quite a few lessons with a QuNeo. Was lots of fun. Learning a lot on what I guess you can call the economy of fingers, like when you should be using one finger vs. multiple. The software lost connection with the drum pad on a couple occasions while going back and forth on the interface (but never during a lesson).

  • teeth

    this is great, learning quickly with it, pushing me to do better each time. Getting rekt keeping up with “Rocking Drums n Fills” lesson, but as frustrating as it gets its addictive and so it gets one more go.

  • teeth

    this is great, learning quickly with it, pushing me to do better each time. Getting rekt keeping up with “Rocking Drums n Fills” lesson, but as frustrating as it gets its addictive and so it gets one more go.

  • HoboGlen

    This looks really interesting. Is anyone aware if there is a similar program for learning keyboard? I was playing with synesthesia today for precisely that reason but it do what it needs to.

  • HoboGlen

    This looks really interesting. Is anyone aware if there is a similar program for learning keyboard? I was playing with synesthesia today for precisely that reason but it do what it needs to.