The Yamaha Arp & Drum Pad app for iPad is a music creation app that's not only capable of transmitting notes to external MIDI instruments, but includes a built-in virtual keyboard, allowing the user to trigger the arpeggiator and play numerous patterns from a variety of instruments.
The arpeggiator takes center stage, giving users a choice of 342 arps from a number of instrument categories. These can be modified in real time for swing, beat stretch, variation and octave range. There are also 16 fully assignable drum pads with 64 user templates, tap tempo and a ribbon controller that lets you control velocity and pitch.
The app lends itself most naturally to electronic music styles, and although there is a significant learning curve for newcomers, having spent some time with the app, it presents a responsive and intuitive experience. After a couple of hours of use, creating a beat and layering a synth line on top is simple and rewarding.
These features add up to an impressive release for Yamaha, but it's the price point that really stands out. The app is currently retailing for the introductory price of just US$3.99, increasing to $7.99 at the start of August 2012. That's significantly cheaper than similar iOS music creation tools. The Korg iMS-20, which features an analog sequencer and drum machine based on classic and historical instruments, retails for $32.99, making Yamaha's offering a wallet-friendly entry into the world of iOS music creation.