What is Jambé?

Published by john worthington on

Jambé is a hybrid instrument that combines a high resolution playing surface and software-based sound generation.

The Jambé playing surface has 10 pads. The black areas on then sides don’t have sensors, they make it easier to pickup and move the playing surface when connected. It’s round so you can orientate the pads however you want. Some people like to play it with the Jambé label pointed away from them. Other people rotate it 180° so the label’s towards them. The playing surface can be held in your lap, placed on a table or a standard snare drum stand. There is no wrong way to Jambé.

The playing surface measures the pressure on each of the 10 pads 1,000 times a second and transmits it to the application. Sound generation is driven by this pressure. Gestures recognized from the pressure data can trigger sounds. The continuous pressure data can also be used to modulate or modify the sound as it’s being played.

Why the hardware and a separate app?

It’s no secret electronics get faster (and cheaper) every year. We wanted to be able to take advantage of the trend by not building in the sound generation hardware. This lets us continue to innovate and evolve the application without being constrained. It’s also far easier to update a separate application.

So the hardware is just a controller?
Is it MIDI?
Can I use it to control other apps?

Not really, Yes, and Not at the moment. Seriously, I suppose you could refer to the playing surface as a controller in the sense that it doesn’t make sound and sends information to something that does. We use some non-standard MIDI commands to send the raw data between the the playing surface and the application, but it’s not anything you could route to a MIDI synthesizer and use. The reason for this comes back to wanting to put as much of the processing in the application. This lets us continue to improve the way we translate your touch into expressive sound. We continue to think about integrating with other applications. Right now, we’re focused on our own application.

Why not just use MIDI?

MIDI was largely designed around the idea that there is a gesture that starts a sound and a corresponding one that ends the sound – “Note On” and “Note Off”. But that doesn’t model what happens with percussion instruments. Typically, a percussion instrument starts to make sound when it’s hit. But the sound doesn’t end at the end of the hit. It continues until the surface stops vibrating. This was just the starting point on out path to rethinking how we want to start, stop, and control sounds. We get the most flexibility by sending a rich set of raw data to the application and letting it use that to directly control the sound it produces.

What do I need?

The Jambé playing surface can be purchased directly from us at our Jambé Store. Included is a cable to go from between the Jambé and the iPad. This cable has a USB-A adapter. Depending on your iPad model, you’ll probably need an adapter. More on that below.

You’ll also need an iPad running iOS 13 or later. This means an iPad Air2, iPad Mini4 or later. Obviously, the faster the better.

The Jambé app can run on an iPhone but you loose all of the editing features, so an iPad is strongly recommended.

If your iPad has a Lightening connector, you’ll probably want to pick up the Apple Camera Connector kit (Model number MD821AM/A or MK0W2AM/A) If you have one of the new iPad Pro models with a USB-C or Thunderbolt connector, you’ll need an adapter for that. The good news is that there are a lot of third party USB-C adapters that seem to work just fine.

You might decide to use a USB hub. In our testing, this works fine. One of the advantages of using a powered USB hub is the ability to use an external audio interface with your iPad. This can provide higher quality output as well as audio in and MIDI in. The Jambé can take advantage of both.