Features & Use
Beats, Grooves, Patterns—a few definitions
The genesis of DJing – i.e. spinning records, CDs, etc. – can be traced back to the USA, which explains why most of the vernacular stems from the English language.
Beats: Most of you will be familiar with this term. Beats are the heartbeat of any track. In this case they also refer to percussions and effect instruments.
Groove(s): Wikipedia describes grooves as being the sense of propulsive rhythmic "feel" or sense of "swing" created by the interaction of the music played by a band's rhythm section.
Pattern(s): A pattern is a recurring harmonious and rhythmical structure. Beats can be structures, and in the DJing world ‘loops’ are often referenced as patterns.
Loop(s): A loop is a musical segment – usually composed of accompanying rhythms or bass tunes – than can be played recurringly, that is to say in a loop.
Groovebox—creating your own beats and sounds has never been this easy
Now that we’re all on the same page as far as terminology goes, let’s get cracking!
"RD3 - Groovebox" is a brilliant app for anyone who’s a beat aficionado, likes playing around with beats or is into making their own music. Think of Groovebox as a synthesizer/drum machine hybrid.
Electro and house are the genres this app really excels at, and while it can also be used to create hip hop beats it’s really best suited to the aforementioned genres.
The learning curve on this app ain't so steep: really decent-sounding beats can be produced within 5 to 10 minutes. Click on the “Beats” tab, pick your percussion instrument of choice and select when each instrument should strike up. You can have your pick of the following:
Then go to "Bassline" and start working on a melody: select when individual notes should sound, but keep in mind that the spectrum of available notes is relatively limited. There’s really only one octave (including semitones) to choose from. That being said, that’s really all you need in order to compose a fun little electronic track. And there are quite a few effects that can spice things up a bit (more infos below).
Sounds are played back in real time, which means that you can hear your own composition straight away.
“It’s all in the details”—Groovebox for advanced users—patterns and effects
The cool thing about "RD3 - Groovebox" is that anyone can use it. Even those with little or no experience with composing music can compose beats that really aren’t bad! That isn’t to say that the tracks that can be produced using this app are doomed to be flat and boring. The “Patterns” function lets you bring a pretty fat amount of diversity into each track.
In the "Mixer" menu you will find the bassline as well as four buttons (A, B, C, D) for beats; you can load different sets onto said buttons. It’s all about coming up with wicked patterns and then fusing them together. This can be done manually by clicking on the different lettered buttons. Alternatively, you can let Groovebox do the nitty gritty for you. A pattern can be played in a loop or a bunch of patterns can be played randomly. Please note that when selecting the “Random” mode Groovebox will play all your patterns, even if some of them are still empty.
The effects can be found under the “Bassline” function. There are 6 sound filters to choose from in the upper part. “Accent” and “Slide” are located in the lower part, as are options to change the sound amplitudes (“Sawtooth” or “Wave”). It’s difficult to describe what these effects sound like, so all I can say is try it out for yourselves. You’re the best judges of which effects work best for the types of tracks you like producing.
Copying patterns—it’s fast, it’s easy
Patterns can be cut and copied by pressing on the menu button. This allows you to take parts of a track and reinsert it elsewhere, to continue working on it.
Okay, track’s finished. What next?
Tracks can be
Tracks are exported as .wav-files and there are several options for sending them, though it’s only possible to send single patterns and not full fledged tracks. That’s a big drawback, if you ask me. Also, there’s no recorder allowing you to record entire tracks, which is a crying shame.
I was blown away by Groovebox. I love that it lets inexperienced users come up with really cool house tracks, and professionals will have fun using the synthesizer and drum machine. There’s no recorder, however, which is why we’re knocking off a point in this category.
Screen & Controls
"RD3 - Groovebox" has three tabs:
I have to admit being a bit overwhelmed by all the different buttons when I first started using Groovebox, but I started feeling comfortable with the app quite quickly despite my initial feeling of confusion.
I love that you can use multitouch when using to the effects. This makes it possible to use two effects at once. Making changes is also easy, just run your finger up or down the display. What can I say—that’s what a really ace UI is all about.
Speed & Stability
I tested "RD3 - Groovebox" on a HTC Desire and a Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play. The app crashed several times on the XPERIA Play when using the multitouch function; there were no problems with the HTC Desire.
"RD3 - Groovebox" can be downloaded from the Google Market and the AndroidPIT App Center. The full version costs EUR4,15 and there’s also a free demo version for those of you that want to give it a go before committing.