Joe Crabtree has unleashed three different software applications and an App for drummers and electronic musicians, RhythMachine, OctopuSequencer, Pyramid and PolyNome.
RhythMachine is a tool for generating rhythms and melodies and orchestrating them on the drum kit or pitched instruments. It can be used for ear training, or generating grooves and fills.
Best known for his drumming with UK classic rock getup Wishbone Ash, Crabtree explains his motivation for RhythMachine, “It was inspired by some lessons I took in New York with Robby Ameen. In my lesson with Robby we were playing double drums – both playing a songo groove with a left foot clave. We’d play 3 bars of groove, then Robby would keep the clave going and play a 1 bar melodic fill on the toms. We’d go around the 4 bars again and my challenge was to mimic what he had played. It was challenging and I wanted to develop some software that would replicate that scenario. I wrote RhythMachine to do exactly this.”
OctopuSequencer is a tool for creating multi-layered grooves consisting of overlapping time signatures. Its core feature set allows you to easily program and manipulate grooves in order to discover new ones.
“To play the songo groove in RhythMachine I had to build a step sequencer,” says Joe. “I built in the ability to chose any subdivision rate between 1 and 32, and to loop at any point in the sequence. Once I’d written the step sequencer I realized that I could stack them, and that having four independent step sequencers would allow me to program some of the kind of grooves that Virgil Donato, Marco Minnemann and Mike Mangini were playing – grooves which are essentially combinations of different time signatures layered over each other. That concept evolved into the OctopuSequencer.”
Pyramid is an advanced metronome which allows you to easily program polyrhythms and the rhythmic scale. It includes features which make it easy to learn how unfamiliar rates and polyrhythms sound.
“Someone who’d bought OctopuSequencer asked me how they would use it to program in the rhythmic scale where you work your way up through all the subdivisions between 1 and 16,” Joe explains. “OctopuSequencer wasn’t designed to do this, so I spent a few weeks working with that idea and developed The Pyramid. It’s much simpler than OctopuSequencer but is an invaluable tool for all musicians (not just drummers) who want to become more familiar with unconventional subdivisions.”
PolyNome is a new learning metronome App for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.
“Soon after writing Pyramid I met Lucas Ives, a New York-based drummer who used to work for Pixar,” says Joe. “He had experience coding for the iPhone so we worked together to develop PolyNome, which is basically the metronome that I wanted to own. It has all the functionality of Pyramid and more. We built in the option to program clicks with bars of rest so you can use it to improve your internal clock which is proving to be a very popular feature among all musicians. It allows you to understand precisely what subdivisions among bars of time feel like, teaches you the drum rudiments, and so much more. The ‘time check’ feature leaves bars of silence in between bars of click to see if your groove stays in time.
Along with the marketing of his new software, Joe is preparing for a world tour with Wishbone Ash on the heels of their new CD release ‘Elegant Stealth.’
Pricing of RhythMachine, OctopuSequencer, Pyramid and PolyNome is unknown due to a circa 1998 log-in scheme.
The Future: Here’s your marketing plan for 2012 Joe: List your prices. Make your products easy to purchase. Share screenshots. Create videos that don’t make interested parties immediately nod off.