App Tip: Arturia iSpark

Automate any parameter of 16 drum sequencer tracks
Image placeholder title

WHEN ARTURIA recently released its iSpark drum machine for iPad (iOS 8 or later,, it felt almost as hefty as its powerhouse namesake, the Spark 2 drum-production plug-in. iSpark has dozens of great-sounding kits, with 16 sounds each for the 16-track built-in sequencer. Each sound has its own synthesis controls and two effect slots; a 16-track mixer also has two send effects and master channel effects. A song section lets you string together patterns and perform real-time touch effects on them. But here’s how to use the powerful track automation.

1. Choose a kit from the menu bar and record or sequence your beat parts from either the Main view sequencer or the SEQ view 16-track sequencer.

Image placeholder title

2. Go to the SEQ view, and for any track, tap its Automate button to open the automation editor. The default automation curve is for Velocity. Tap the “plus sign” above that to choose to automate more than 30 parameters, including filter controls, envelope controls, panning and effect parameters. You can open automation curves for as many parameters as you want.

3. With the default pencil tool, drag your finger to draw in an automation curve. Use the SEQ tracks’ Solo and Mute buttons to better hear the changes you make.

4. Use the up/down tool to move the existing automation values up or down in relation to each other. A segment button allows you to split each 16th-note step of automation into four segments for finer control. The eraser tool lets you erase whole steps of the automation curve or individual segments in each step.

5. These automation features let you infuse your beats with a dynamic sense of motion. When you’re finished, tap Export in the SEQ view to save a WAV file of the beat in the iTunes Share directory.

Fire up the iTunes App Store to get iSpark for $19.99.