Is Melodics finally a good way to learn finger drumming? Think of it like Guitar Hero but with your own controller and proper tunes to play along to. They promise to quickly move you from the basics to playing breaks like Impeach the President on your pad controller!
We’ve sent our man Mosart212 down the rabbit hole, so check out below what he thinks of the app and if it will help him to spice up his live dj sets and online radio show in the near future!
UPDATE: Melodics isn’t an app to just learn finger drumming anymore – they have recently launched Melodics Keys, which will teach piano!
Mosart212 vs. Melodics
Let me start of by saying that although I suck at finger drumming, it is something that I have always wanted to be able to do. I’ve known that being just a little better at finger drumming would make my dj sets and original beats that much more interesting and lively. Trying to add that element to my skills has always eluded me. I knew I was bad, but Melodics helped me see just how far from good I actually am, and more importantly after using it for a couple of days and going through a couple of the lessons, it helped me see that if I stuck to it I could get good! I might not reach Araabmuzik levels of syncopated genius but I could certainly add some “live” flair to my sets. In fact the improvement after just a couple of days was actually quite incredible.
One of my favorite things about the program is the simplicity of the whole thing; its got a simple design, easy to understand text, that offer easy to follow instructions and easy to understand feedback, it employs minimal visuals, not a lot of color or graphics to get in the way of practice and learning.
I have enjoyed the experience to learn finger drumming so far even though at first glance I was worried that I would get bored of the sounds and the tunes you practice along to. I tried a couple of different lessons and modules and found them all to be challenging as well as rewarding. I was particularly impressed with the flexibility the program offers you in terms of what you can practice and what controllers you can use. I used a Maschine MK1, an MPD26, a MicroKorg, and the computer keyboard. I had no trouble setting any of them up.
There are some comparisons that can be made between Melodics and the slew of Guitar Hero titles, but Melodics feels like much more than a game. There is an addictive quality to the lessons that helps you practice what would otherwise feel like a tedious and repetitive task. In fact at certain points I repeated lessons until I was able to score a perfect 100 twice in a row, just to make sure I got it and it was not just a fluke. I really did feel myself getting better as I chugged along.
One thing that became apparent right away was that missing a beat really does make it very hard to catch back up and recover your timing. Once I missed a beat I would get confused and hit the wrong pad, or just forget the sequence I was supposed to be following. This would happen to me during my first attempts at a lesson, and especially when the lesson involved more than two instruments. As a DJ I know that timing is the difference between a great mix you can ride for a few minutes, and a trainwreck that clears the room. But in djing you can recover quickly if you miss a beat and still salvage the mix. Using Melodics made me appreciate how much concentration and focus it takes to stay on beat for several bars, as well as the impact that a missed beat can have.
One cool and very helpful feature is being able to see that you’re hitting a note too early or too late. I suffer from hitting the notes too late! At the outset I had the most trouble with the first kick in all of the lessons, I felt that it would come up faster than I thought and so I kept missing it. After using the program for a while I got used to the internal clock and rhythm of the lessons. The lessons all start off with just a metronome and I was grateful to learn how to play to a metronome, a skill I had heretofore never learned or was interested in. This particular skill has led to some great developments and improvement in my beat making and producing.
Room For Improvement
One thing I disliked was how locked in to the screen I was. I could not really look away from the screen as much as I wanted to, so there was often a dissonance between my eyes and my ears, which I found to be distracting; focusing on the screen made it harder to focus on the metronome. That being said I am sure that if I continue to use the program I will get used to it and become comfortable enough to look away. I also did not like that you are penalized for striking notes after the lesson is done (ie, hitting a pad after the last note on screen) – this makes it that much harder to look away from the screen.
One non-music-lesson-thing that stood out was the fact that all of the lessons were endorsed by men. While we may know Jeremy Ellis, and DJ Enferno as finger drumming wizards, it would be cool if Melodics, in addition to helping you improve your skills, would also help introduce us to women in the field who are currently very underrepresented.
One more thing…
Melodics offers much more than just your standard kick, snare, kick, snare patterns. I was excited to learn a couple of new drum patterns, which will help me shake up the boom bap. As someone who listens to a lot music, I knew what a paradiddle was, theoretically, but thanks to Melodics, I know exactly what it is and how to do one.
When I first started the program I was thinking that I’d just learn finger drumming with drum kits, but the lessons offer much more than just drums to work with. Several lessons I explored had bass, guitar, and keys. There are also lessons that help you work with dj cue points, and off the grid/non quantized beat making. These were all a lot of fun to work with, and like the drum lessons, offered a great deal of variation to keep you going and keep things interesting. I’m still struggling to work with both my hands and using all of my fingers, I lose the beat as soon as I have to keep more than one rhythm going, but mastering that is one thing I am really looking forward to learning from my Melodics lessons.
So, Can You Learn Finger Drumming?
I thoroughly enjoyed using Melodics and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to bring a new and dynamic skill to their musical repertoire. I am convinced that I will get much better at finger drumming by working through the lessons, and as I mentioned earlier, I have already seen improvement. Melodics fun, easy to set up and use, and it keeps the lessons dynamic, interesting, and rewarding. If you’re looking to add some flavor to your dj sets, or looking to finger drum some of your own original compositions live and in real time, then Melodics is a solid choice.