NIME – MicroJam

After reading threw some papers in the proceedings archive I decided to go deeper into the MicroJam of Charles P. Martin and Jim Torresen. It is about a mobile app for sharing tiny touch-screen performances, which I tried out by downloading it.

“Touch-screen performances are limited to five seconds, instrument settings are posed as sonic “filters”, and past performances are arranged as a timeline with replies and layers. These features of MicroJam encourage users not only to perform music more frequently, but to engage with
others in impromptu ensemble music making.” I very liked the simple concept of drawing a random shape and getting an auditive feedback from this application. The world section provides the sound drawings of other people while the user can draw by himself in the jam! section. Also the possibility to change the colors of the lines, the background and the sound itself makes the usage more attractive. Other users’ apps automatically download their friends performances, to which they can listen and reply, which makes it more interactive.

The present version of MicroJam is an iOS app written in Swift with web backend provided by Apple CloudKit. The main screen consists of a list of performances downloaded from other app users. These can be selected, played back, and used as the basis for reply performances. New performances can be created by selecting the “+” symbol. The jamming screen then appears, allowing the user to record a new performance. A number of sound schemes can be selected for the performance. As of writing, these consist of a simple theremin-like sound, a keyboard sound, a Karplus-Strong modelled string sound, and a drum set.