Jam Maestro is a powerful music composition tool for musicians interested in making guitar-centric music.
Sequence up to 16 instruments together, including Guitar, Bass and Drums, and compose songs in guitar/drum tab format.
Midi sequence and play background apps in your compositions using the Midi and Inter-App Audio instrument types.
Easily construct harmonies and see the relationship between notes thanks to a unique interface. Instantly share tab ideas with friends and bandmates via Dropbox. Playback with highly realistic samples. Export tabs to PDF/TXT and render tabs to wav/m4a format.
Full version features:
- 5 Instrument types: Guitar, Bass, Drums, Midi, Inter-App Audio.
- Inter-App Audio Host and Node support.
- Connect up to 4x Inter-App Audio Effects.
- Effects: Reverb, Delay, EQ, Chorus, Flanger, Vibrato, Tremolo.
- Full Midi In/Out compatibility
- Midi Sequencing
- Export/Import Midi files
- Export tab to PDF/TXT file
- Create your own Drum Kits.
- Audiobus 2.0 support, including State Saving that captures tab information (share your songs in Audiobus presets!)
- AudioCopy support.
I've posted about Jam Maestro previously, and mentioned that I'd never got around to actually downloading it despite some impressive You Tube tutorial videos. Well, developer David Blake was having none of that and contacted Unstringed to let us all know that an update was imminent and that I really should give Jam Maestro a try. He generously provided a download code ( full disclosure ) and not only that, gave us 3 full downloads to spread around the community. Read on and I'll tell you how to grab one!
Before I tell you my experience with JM, I now know why I was reticent to jump in myself. In the demos it is clear that JM is based around recording notes into a guitar Tab and I've just never used the format. In fact I'm pretty sure at one point JM might have been described as a "Tab Sequencer" and as soon as I saw the Tab Staff and the little numbers I was out. To be honest I wasn't even sure JM could be played like a real instrument ... the grid of notes looked uninviting ... boy was I wrong.
Now I'm not going to kid you. This app requires a bit of digging into. It isn't the simple Guitar Strummer we've become used to and often disappointed with ... though it definitely has that aspect ( the strumming, not the disappointment!). But it's so much more and the tab-sequencing thing is actually really good!
So what is it? Well it's a guitar sim with several nice sounding guitar samples ( clean, acoustic, rock , metal etc ) including an easy to activate 'Chug' ( palm muted ) variation, it has a couple of Bass Guitars too and to top it off there's a complete drum machine in there with several styles of kit ... Rock, Power, Metal , Jazz and more. When JM is in it's Play mode ( right) you can see a grid of note buttons ( labelled as notes here, but they can display fret position if you'd prefer) which play a note when tapped. Pitch Bending and Sliding can be enabled as can Strumming ( shown ). Along the bottom are a row of buttons to choose how many notes sound when a note is tapped. There's single note, dual note, power chords and a choice of regular chord voicings ( Maj, Min, Sus 4 ) which can be customized to meet any chordal needs. If the 'Maj' option is selected for instance and a G note tapped or the strings strummed, then a GMaj chord will play. A Scale can be selected to prevent off-scale notes, and there's even ways to have the fretboard switch to other related scales during play!
Tapping on the "Tab" button enters the recording/editing mode. Here notes ( and drum beats ) can be added either in real time, or in step time. This is where the Tab display which I feared turned out to be really cool. Each bar added to an instrument track ( you can have 16 tracks ) is really just 16 steps, Its easy to advance along each step and tap on the note ( or drum sound ) you want to play at that position. Tapping on multiple notes while on the same step produces chords, each note of which can be offset by the Strum speed controls located to the right by the strings. Its actually really easy! And best of all, adding notes this way produces all kinds of interesting riffs and progressions that you'd never come up with normally. At least I wouldn't ... maybe you would! There's also a wealth of editing tools to ease the workload if you want to insert, copy or delete notes/Bars ... too much to go into here!
Selecting a Drum Track displays a different playing surface. Drums too can be added a step at a time or tapped while recording in real time. Once a short backing sequence is created (could be a loop of 4 bars ... or 40!) a final solo instrument can be added. The magic here is that JM can detect the Key/s of the backing sequence and let you solo over it, changing the key of the solo guitar (i.e. which notes are displayed) as the sequence plays! Wow. Moreover if your sequence is short ( 2-4 bars like mine ) then JM loops it underneath your playing creating a new longer 'Jam' track which can be saved as a new project, or exported in a variety of audio formats or MIDI!
And that's still not all ... each track has an effect chain ( delay, modulation, reverb, EQ ... or any IAA Effect ! ), theres the ability for hosting IAA Intruments on a track or sending to another External Instrument via Virtual MIDI, AudioBus 2 is supported ... this is an exceptionally well put together app!
As I said, there's a bit of user experimentation required to come to grips with the workflow and I'm still in the learning phase. My immediate desire was for an Undo function to step back once I'd messed up a promising piece. The work around is to use a standard Save As... function periodically. I'd kind of like to have playback controls in the Play Mode window so I can mess around outside of the recording environment. Maybe I'd like a pitch-bent note to bend back to its original note when released rather than decaying ... but these are niggly things which don't detract from a really fun musical environment.
So if you'd like to try your hand at JamMaestro I have 3 codes to give away courtesy of David Blake who is the brains behind the whole thing. To receive one, just be one of the first three people to email me via the Unstringed contact form ( accessed at the top of the blog ... not the comments ! ) and tell me what is your favorite guitar solo ever and who it's by. I'm going to check it out, so no shenanigans!
If you aren't quick enough there's always the Jam Maestro Lite app for a paltry .99c which offers fewer sounds for the guitar and bass instruments. If you like the concept then an IAP can take you to the full version.