If you took piano lessons 20 years ago you may remember the wind-up metronome. An adjustable counterweight would allow a pointer to swing to the left and right making a tick-tock sound and, once you set it going, would keep time for you while you battled with the finer points of learning Chopsticks.
Nowadays mobile technology has given rappers and scratch-fanatics their own 21st century version of the metronome in the form of iOS app Tablebeats.
Created by Swedish scratch DJ Daniel Hulth, the free app enables producers to upload beats which the next QBert or Kanye can use as instrumentals, scratching or rapping over the tunes.
Daniel says: “It's like meditation for me. I had an opportunity to start my own business and at that time I was scratching a lot. I didn't have many beats I could loop for my practice sessions and I wanted to be able to scratch for hours sometimes. And that’s when the idea for TableBeats came up.”
As we saw in this month’s multimedia article, Scratch Obsession, scratch DJs spend more time than a concert pianist honing their techniques in their quest for rhythmical perfection. After a six hour session it’s easy to get bored listening to the same sound, and with boredom comes staleness.
Not only does this provide a little more inspiration for scratch DJs and rappers, it could be an efficient way for fledgling producers to get their beats noticed. You can submit your beats to TableBeats@gmail.com but Daniel warns: “Quality beats are a must.”
But what is the secret to creating a good Tablebeat?
Turntablist and producer DJ Odilon says: "Diversity of genre and tempo, beats that give space for scratchin’. The cool thing also is to have a whole bunch of only good loops so the scratcher will be stuck on the looper, like everything is there.
"A cool visual that fits with the name of the looper is also important because it's the first thing that people see and will remind them before playing the first loop."
Following some minor design and bug fixes, Daniel confirms Tablebeats should be available in the App store in a week or so. Android users will have to wait a little longer unfortunately.
Further features such a playlist function and ASC (Automatic Speed Control) are currently in the pipeline. You can contribute to Daniel’s GofundMe.com campaign here.
For more information about Tablebeats see here.