Music Maker Jam is a musical sequencing app for beginners. The apps gives you pre-made musical loops and multiple channels to play with, giving you the make your own unique music on the fly. If you are a user who has never delved in to electronic music making apps, this might seem like a daunting task but the app makes it quite easy for everyone to enjoy.
As you load up the app, you are presented with choice of three different styles of music — Dubstep, Jazz and Tech House. It is interesting that they should choose two electronic genres that are not all that mainstream and then also throw in Jazz. However, each style is well made and after you choose one, you are taken to the live playing screen where the preset song has already started playing.
The ideal thing to do at this point is to tweak various controls and see how they work. This screen can be divided in to the instrument channels and the rest of the controls. There are 8 instrument channels plus one main out put channel. Every channel has it is own level control to control the loudness. You will see an instrument icon at the bottom of every channel for instrument channels. Clicking these will mute and unmute the channels. There are also text labels on top of every channel to tell you the name of every instrument. Below these labels are the names of the current loop playing on the channel. Below the loop names are pairs of arrows to change the currently playing loop. Put it all together and you have your very own band, so to say, inside your Windows 8 device.
The main output channel naturally has no icon or name. It has a level indicator telling you how loud the loudest part of the song is. This is shown in decibles (db). It also has a pair of arrows but these are for changing the tempo (speed) of the song. Each project is preset at the appropriate tempo for that style of music (140 for Dubstep, 120 for Jazz, 125 for TechHouse) but you can tweak it to your hearts content.
Directly above the main channel is the effects unit. It has two buttons. The button labeled effects turns the effect on and off. The button with the waveform or squiggly line on top of that lets you control the effect by moving a point on a new window that floats up on top of everything.
To the left of the effect section are the playback controls. There’s a large play/pause button to the extreme left, followed by a smaller loop button. Beside them are the parts of the song. Every preset song has 3 parts, presumably for verse, bridge and chorus. You can add more by clicking on the plus icon beside it. to remove a part, you can right click on it and call up the contextual menu that has the remove part option.
Below the playback control is the progress bar that is simply there to show you the progression of each part. You can’t control it, so it is just for reference. The dots on the path seem to represent beats.
One the upper left corner are two buttons for controlling harmonies. The one at the bottom turns harmony on and off. If you turn it off, you can choose individual keys for each part. It is turned on by default to make life easier for you. The button on top brings up a floating window where you have a grid for marking the key for each beat and a loop length chooser.
You can right click on any empty space at any point and bring up the main contextual menu that has a musical sync control on the left and the options — ‘Load Style’; ‘Load Project’ and ‘Save Project’ — on the right. You can use this to switch projects and styles at any moment.
In conclusion, this apps requires some bit of musical understanding and sense. However, even an absolute beginner can use it out of the box without guidance by putting in some effort to understand how music is made.