Mapex Drum Masterclass iPhone app

iPhone/iPod Touch music app for reading notation

At the turn of the Millennium, mobile phones were used exclusively for playing Snake and staying in touch, while the Mini Disc player looked like it was becoming the mobile music standard. These days, Apple has cornered both markets with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Mapex's Drum Masterclass application takes advantage of this technology, and seeks to bring drum notation to the text-speak generation. Let's get reading, innit.

Build

At the core of the program are 32 lessons designed to take you through the basics of reading minims, through to more advanced semiquaver patterns, complete with rests.

There's also a randomized Drill mode for improving sight-reading skills, and a Tuning screen which allows you to select one of two (upgradable to six) sampled Mapex Black Panther snare sounds. Each can be tuned, dampened, or have the snares released.

The Crib Sheets menu recaps the theoretical aspects, and the options menu offers some customisations to the user interface.

Hands on

We got started with the first lessons, and then progressively worked through to the end. Each lesson begins with a demonstration of the exercise, explaining the value of each note used, and giving an interactive example of the lesson before you play through it alone.

This is a useful function for reading newbies, but if you are more experienced it can be turned off in the Options panel, allowing you to jump straight into each lesson.

The speed of each exercise can be adjusted between 40-179bpm and the included lessons are more than enough to keep absolute beginners going, It's not just for novices, however - intermediate users will find the more advanced lessons and Drill mode tricky when played at higher tempos.

As well as sticking patterns, the notation also displays accents (performed by tapping toward the edges of the drum) which, while important when playing the exercises on a real drum, seem a little redundant considering the aim of the application.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

A fresh idea. Amazing value for money. Offers something for all skill levels.

Cons

Reading notes on a scrolling screen can be a little off-putting, (particularly at faster tempos) but this is more a side effect of tradition than a fault of the application. No option to display reversed sticking patterns.

Verdict

A very original app - advanced players shouldn't be put off by the apparent simplicity of some of the patterns, it's designed to further your reading, not your playing technique after all. Considering that this application and both of the add-on packs will cost you just over a fiver, Mapex has certainly packed a lot in for excellent value.

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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