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Wow! Awesome App!

Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:55 pm
by soundog
First off, this is the most playable, expressive musical instrument app I have found. I appreciate the thought and time that went into creating it. I wanted something that could be used during live performance that could sound either organic, or electronic, and this is it. I have only spent an hour with it but am already very impressed with its potential. I love the ability to customize setups/presets. There is also a great breadth of instruments and samples, though I am sure I will think of some more to suggest. This is the best V1.0 app I have seen yet, and I can't wait to see how it evolves.

Two quick suggestions for future features:

1) the ability to save instruments "offline" on a computer. The entire library of samples is large, and many users might only use a favorite handful during a given time period. So, it would be nice to load in what you want, and store others on a computer.

2) i love the ability to change keys while the scale is still visible and playable in the background. It would also be great to be able to get to a matrix of buttons for major, minor, 7th, dim, etc chords of different keys, so a user could play background chords with one or two fingers. Sort of like the buttons on an accordion.

good ideas

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:33 am
by Jesse
I'm glad you're liking it!

With regard to your suggestions:

1) It is a big download, I agree. Unfortunately, as long as I'm including all those samples with the app, there's no way for the end-user to pull them out. I would have to pare down the built-ins and supply the rest via download.... which could easily be done. In the future, there will definitely be more samples available, many of which will be free add-ons. I do have plans on releasing certain new groups of samples via the in-app purchasing mechanism as well.

The next version will let you build up new instruments from samples you upload into the app via wifi, just as you can already do it by sampling with the microphone. I will also publish the specs on how to make your own instrument (on a PC), for those who want to.

2) Good idea to provide some chording buttons. Maybe they could optionally be on the right edge when visible? So many choices though....

Features, Evolution

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:06 pm
by soundog
Jesse, you can already see by early reviews you are on the right track with this app. The challenge will be to keep it focused and avoid "feature creep." How to evolve, add useful/beneficial features without dragging down ease of use, speed, and stability. I personally think this app has it's greatest potential as a pro app for performing and composing musicians.

How many users will need and use the bluetooth jamming capability? I don't know, but I am guessing that won't be the apps primary application (I could be wrong). How about the looping? Not sure, but I don't plan on using this thing as a DAW to create semi-polished songs using loops and recording, though the looping is handy to capture chord sequences and ideas. So quantization would be nice, but how much horsepower and development time will that take? You'll need to be very clear on your primary audience/target market, and the apps intended use. But already it is clearly not a toy, but a professional tool. Listen to your users, but be solid on your vision...

For me (and sounds like other early adaptors of the app), using ThumbJam as a writing and performance tool is fundamental. The ability to display the key, with buttons, and octave/range along with the trigger notes is extremely powerful. Add the huge selection of scales (forced notes), and it becomes a fantastic composition and performance tool.

I really like the concept of one touch chording. Let's say you write a song with a verse Em-C-Am-D and chorus G-D-F#7. If you could assign these chords to buttons for Em, C, Am, D, G, F#7 you could easily play these live after recalling a "song preset" that would call up the instrument preset + one-button chords. Powerful. It doesn't seem like that would add a ton of required horsepower cause the underlying fundamentals are already in the app. Adding an arpeggiator and, say, the ability to layer; e.g. a bass playing a root note with a piano chord, would take more work, but would be even more powerful. And on and on....

I am really looking forward to the ability to create my own uploadable instruments and sample sets ... but I use a Mac, hint hint. Also, I see your point on the V1.0 samples being inseparably built into the download. But as users add and use more instruments and samples, you might consider paring them down in the download for a future version. I have seen some apps provide a base set of samples on the initial download, with the ability to add the extra free ones from online as desired. You can still advertise the whole list as being included with the purchase price. Just a thought...

Maybe down the road you could try a feature survey or something to see where your core users want to see ThumbJam go. For now, I'm enjoying the ride.

good idea

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:34 pm
by Jesse
I like your idea about the chording. It is likely that I will add a sidebar for live performance controls more readily at hand but not as intrusive as the change key popout, that may include:

- octave shift
- toggles for glide/retrigger
- quick scale switching (pick 1 or 2 alternate scales to put in slots)
- quick key switching (same as above, possibly combined)

Adding custom chording buttons would fit in nicely.

Arpegiator, and even random generative stuff is all nice future work that really wouldn't be too hard.

As for making instrument combos (bass, piano, etc) those could be made right now in the same way the String Ensemble is, where I just grouped a set of the bass, cello and violin multisamples together in the instrument spec. I could easily produce custom combos from existing samples and post them on this site for download and you could upload them with the current version. Feel free to post some requests into the Instruments section of the forum.

Well said, arachno7.

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:33 am
by soundog
Well said, arachno7. Actually, I think "non-musicians" could learn a lot using ThumbJam about playing .... use of scales, for example. So it does bridge the gap between pro and amateur, really.

I would love to oblige on video, etc .... perhaps after the holidays.

Is there any plan to have the

Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:12 pm
by ListTowardsLight
Is there any plan to have the ThumbJam server export MIDI files? I'd like to get my jams onto sheet music!

At some point in the future

Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:31 pm
by Jesse
At some point in the future that is a possibility. Currently, it only records loops as audio files, and is not an event sequencer. Bur to support some of the collaboration planned in future versions it will need to record the events as well, and then it could export as midi.

I love this app. The sounds

Posted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:05 pm
by sutmo
I love this app. The sounds (in particular, the cello) and playability are great. I do have a few suggestions, however:

- I'd really like a way to assign a different color or marker or something to other notes in a scale besides the root. I get lost trying to find the fourth or fifth note. For instance, on a harp the "C" strings are marked red and the "F" strings are marked blue so you can have a reference.

- I'd also like the option to display the notes on the right hand side of the display as scale numbers instead of note names. An option to make it more visible would be great, too.


Yes, a metronome is

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:16 am
by Jesse
Yes, a metronome is definitely on the list. If you are referring to a per-note quantizer, that would be a bit tougher due to the way loops are recorded currently. However, quantizing the start of a record to bar boundary of the master loop could be easily arranged.

You can easily delete individual loops in the Loop->Mixer, just hit the X button for that loop. And the loops are exported individually when you save a loop set, and archive/download from the wifi web interface. The ZIP file you download for a loop set contains a few session XML files (one for ThumbJam, and another for Ardour (check it out at along with WAV files for each loop in the sounds subdirectory. However, the lengths of the loops will probably not be the same as each other due the way they are recorded internally, the metadata handles the loop length and offsets. In future versions the export will probably rewrite the files to ensure the file is equal to the loop length and aligned properly with each other.