How to use the Drum Machine (DM1) on your iPad?

There are several music apps available for iOS devices but none as intuitive, interesting and easy-to-use as the Drum Machine (DM1) developed by Fingerlab. The beat-maker provides over hundreds of sounds proving ease of composition and sequencing, at the same time, not being overwhelming. It neither turns stale like the simple music apps available nor does it cause frustration due to any complications that are found in certain music apps.

Controls and Modes on DM1

The Drum Machine (DM1) can be purchased from the App Store for US$4.99. Once the app has been installed, you can easily start creating music on it and no special learning classes are required. When you start the app after installation, you will see a sample composition. You can try out some of the basic functions of DM1 to see how they work. Hit play, pause and other settings to see the changes you bring about to the composition.

The main controls of DM1 are lined up at the top-

  1. Play/Pause button
  2. BPM adjuster: This ranges from 30-240
  3. Pattern Selector: This allows the selection from the 25 patterns available
  4. Selectors: This will switch between the five major screens of the app- Pads, Steps, FX, Mixer and Song

The top row also features a sound bank having a range of modes which have sound sets from classic drum machines, acoustic tones, melodic instrument sets as well as original sound sets. Once you have familiarized yourself with the controls and modes a little, you can start making your own beats. The best way to learn to navigate the app is while making the beat.

How to use DM1?

    1. Choose Song from top menu, press New and assign a name to the song you are going to create. The five main panels of the app can be used to build your tune.
    2. Hit Pads. This will open up a screen having nine pads each of which corresponds to different tones. You can try out different rhythms and sound sets from app library. You can also record ‘live’, which means that you can add your own tweaks and alterations to the chosen sound set.
    1. After choosing the sound set you intend to use, press Mixer. This control allows you to adjust the individual parameters- level, length, pitch and pan- for your nine sounds. The option also allows you to give beat by beat adjustment of levels for each sound, activate randomizer, set sound in reverse etc. Mixer also allows you to swap a sound in one set with a sound in another set. The above settings can be applied to the whole song or individual patterns.
    2. Hitting Steps will provide a visualization of the tune as a grid showing one or two bars at a time. You can manipulate the notes, hit play and keep working on it until you get your tune right. Rhythms can be set even to 16th-note increments with 8 beats for a single pattern at the most. You can create odd measures of beats as well by sliding the right edge of the grid to the left.
    3. After mixing, press FX in order to give your beat an edge with overdrive, phaser, delay, robotizer, texturizer, compressor or filter. If you are not sure of what option to choose, you can just experiment with everything until you come up with something that sounds right.
    4. Head over to Mixer again to make slight adjustments to what you have created so far.

Lastly, you have to head over to Songs for setting your composition. The patterns can be stacked, repeated, rearranged on a timeline. The next pattern can be chosen by pressing Pattern indicator given on top bar. You can copy an already existing pattern or start a new one.

  1. When you are finally finished with your tune, you can export it through mail, Audiocopy or iTunes.


The Drum Machine DM1 from Fingerlab is one of the most impressive music apps available for iOS, in terms of offering a music platform which is easy to use without the complications of other music apps. The app is interesting enough to never appear stale as well, with the large number of options it provides.

DM1 has several modes and controls with which you can create tunes with ease. The steps are very straightforward and at no point will you feel lost while using the app.

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