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Jammit by Eric Parsons

Jammit… Picture this:  You’re in your practice room trying to figure out a bass line from the original recording.  You’ve almost got it, but there are a few phrases you just can’t nail because other instrumental parts are masking the notes in question.   Well, what if you could literally strip away everything but the bass track and listen to it in isolation?  What if you could also follow along with the musical score of the bass line in standard notation or in tablature as it displays in sync with the music?  What if you could slow the part down and loop it to play over and over?

I have been playing with Jammit all morning and it does all of the above and more.  Jammit is an application for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that gives you access to isolated tracks from the original multi-track master recordings of a wide variety of popular tunes.  The app itself is free and each song is priced between  $1.99 and  $5.99.

After following the instructions at the website, I downloaded the app and several tunes to my iPod Touch via a WiFi connection.  For my first tune, I chose “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 with Wilton Felder playing the bass part.  I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to his isolated part and follow his phrases on the written out notation.  For the next song, I chose “Roundabout” by YES with Chris Squire on his Rickenbacker bass and this is where the Jammit takes on a whole new level of cool.  When listening to the isolated bass track I could now hear subtleties of the performance that were simply not detectable when listening to everything at once.  Slurs, hammer-ons, ghost notes, muting and even fret buzz and pick attack are all much more obvious.  It should also be easier to determine how a track was eq’d and to get a much better idea of how and what effects were employed.

Jammit is very easy and intuitive to use.  There are faders to adjust the volume of the isolated, band and click tracks.   The transport consists of pushbutton controls to start, pause or loop a section of the song.  You also have the ability to slow the song down without changing the pitch and to record your own part and even to replace the original line with your own.

Of all the new products out there, I think Jammit is truly a no-brainer decision.  The app is free and the songs are very reasonably priced.  It’s really fun to use and allows the user to experience some classic tunes (and new ones too) from a whole new perspective.  Jammit also offers songs with isolated guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals.

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  1. Raul Amador

    Raul Amador

    February 7, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Hey Eric,
    Isn’t new technology the best? One common theme we saw a lot at NAMM was a huge growth in applications for the ipad and iphone.
    I have spent hours working at lifting a bass line from a tune. I have fen it into my tascam bass trainer, slowed it down, taken out the treble end and still just can’t get it perfect.
    It sounds like Jammit could solve all that,
    Very cool review!

  2. chuck

    May 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi, I appreciate the article. Its always good to hear about various ways to learn songs. While I think Jammit has the potential to be something really cool I don’t think it is there quite yet. Let me tell you why,

    1) Limited song selection. Given the obvious level of work they put into their songs its a given that it would take a while to build the catalogue. The songs they have are an obvious attempt at covering a lot of different styles and songs though it is stretched thin. Again, maybe not their fault since its impossible to satisfy everyone.

    2) You have to buy per instrument not per track, which leads possibly to being charged 3 or 4 times for the same song. Maybe they should offer a discount if you want all instruments for a given track.

    3) Lack of demo song. I’m using Jammit on OSX and maybe I’m wrong but I couldn’t find a demo track. I’m told that for IOS users there is a Pretenders song available for download but as far as I can tell you can’t get it on OSX. Again – it might be a problem on my end. Of course once you buy a track then you can see it all so this isn’t such a big deal

    4) Alternatives – I’ve been learning songs for decades going back as far as to learning them off a turntable and doing it the hard way by ear. I could slow down album tracks from 33& 1/3 to 16 and capture fast solos (albeit an octave lower) but would agree that I never want to return to those days – I’m also a big fan of throwing songs into Logic and using Flex time to slow things down without changing pitch. This works pretty well in fact. I can also use Celemony to transcribe the notes for rapid passages in solos. Granted that both of these approaches don’t totally isolate tracks so in this sense Jammit provides a unique service, which is ,as far as I can tell, its primary appeal.

    Lastly, there is weird problem I have at the login screen on OSX. I use a password generator to create secure passwords, which wind up being up to 20 characters long. However, I can’t paste the password into the OSX login screen that Jammit presents. So I have to change my password to something much smaller (and less secure) simply to login. Maybe there is a bug fix for this.

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