Google’s Android platform has gotten only a fraction of the attention for music making that iPhone OS and iPad have, but that doesn’t mean the OS doesn’t have some advantages of its own. Thanks to being an open OS, it’s also easier to install custom OSes, and repurpose older devices and build cheap embedded computers on a platform like BeagleBoard. The remaining challenge: convince Google that beefing up real-time audio hardware access is important. So, with Google’s own I/O conference this week and me in Berlin next week during DroidCon, now seems like the perfect time to talk about handheld music on the platform.

Why should you care? Hint: having access to the SD card – and the ability to load and save MIDI and audio files to it – means you can do some damage. In fact, you might not even need a computer for loading samples and sequences. Photo (CC-BY-SA) James Nash.

Bradley Berthold (developer “niko twenty”) writes with news that he’s releasing two apps for Android. Electrum Drum Machine is a simple 808-style groove box / sampler. It’s not as pretty as some of its rivals on iPhone OS, but the ability to drop samples right on an SD card – no additional software required – is a big edge. Accordingly, there’s a nice interface for editing waveforms and sample points, and you can export to WAV or MIDI, then pull that SD card and drop it somewhere else. (In fact, that means you should be able to take an SD card and plug it into hardware samplers with MIDI or audio file support, without ever touching a computer. Kick it oldskool.)


Electrum Drum Machine is a full featured 6 sound drum machine with a traditional 16 slot pattern sequencer, along with a step sequencer to sequence patterns into a song. Up to 32 patterns can be created. Each sound can have its pitch, volume, start and end points modified. The drum machine also has a shuffle feature, as well as multitouch pads for playing. Supports WAV/MIDI export.

ReLoop is a music sequencer, which should fit nicely into a workflow with Electrum. It reminds me in look and function of some of the older Palm apps, but that’s not a bad thing.

ReLoop Music Sequencer is a loop-based sequencer for Android devices that allows you to drag and drop loops and one-shot samples onto an unlimited length timeline to compose a track. 8 tracks are supported and are high quality 44Khz stereo sound. Each track can be adjusted in volume, and each one-shot event on the timeline can also be varied in pitch. Loops are stretched to fit the current BPM. The sequencer supports WAV export, and looping mode, as well as an 8 track mixer dialog with mute function.

Best to see how it works in a video:

More info at the niko twenty site: