Review: Yamaha's Song Beats is a spectacular product demo & rhythm teacher

Learn the basics of keeping time and playing percussion with this exceptional music app.

Song Beats is an interactive music creation app with numerous options, an exceptional interface, and an extremely accurate use of touch screen controls. The result is one of the finer beat keeping and music teaching apps we have tested for the iPhone and a testament to why Yamaha is one of the top instrument creators in the world.

The app looks very confusing at first with dozens of buttons on screen at any given time. However, the core functionality is straightforward. Choose a sample track, and tap the drums to play along to the music. The song will play in the bottom of the screen with a scrolling bar to show you where the beat is, a metronome for the time, and visual circles on the drums to show you when to tap them. The result is not meant to be a game, but it feels like one, even as you learn more about music and creating and maintaining a beat. There are many other options here, as well, including the scroll music to see how each drum is being used, skill tests, and recording and deep playback options. From start to finish, Yamaha has created a very fine digital representation of what it is like to learn to play the drums.

If you are a drum player, are interested in learning to play the drums, or just want to learn more about keeping a beat, Song Beats by Yamaha is a great place to start. From basic practice on a kit to external MIDI device playback, there are so many options here, and all of it is free.

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