July 3rd, 2015 | by

app review: Session Band

80%

What it Does

:
Create your own backing tracks quickly for rehearsal or composing.

The Bottom Line

:
A great tool for any musician needing to rehearse with a backing track, compose a song or improvise over a chord progression.

Ease (4)
Intelligence (4)
Extras (4)
Gossip (4)

Ease:

4/5

You control the app with taping, double tapping, swiping and pinching, which is super easy once you’ve figured it out, but not obvious right away.

Intelligence:

4/5

The app is like a very simple version of garage band for creating song accompaniments. The only downside is you have less control and won’t be able to get exactly the sounds and arrangements you want.

Extras:

4/5

You can save, record and share your tracks, and even mix the individual instruments.

Gossip:

4/5

People seem to seriously love this app and all the genre-specific banks you can purchase. Some wish it was compatible with Audio bus, and that it was a universal app.

Musician's Note

When I first opened this app I was totally lost and could not do anything. Then I watched a YouTube tutorial and saw all the pinching, swiping and double tapping, and went “Oh! I get it!” I needed 5-10 minutes to climb the learning curve, but then I found the app amazingly simple.
I use this app for rehearsal and getting creative ideas down. It is also great for practicing noodling or ad-libbing. I see this as a kind of “Garage band for dummies.” I have to admit that I have never been able to get into Garage Band. I just find it too convoluted. Of course, with Garage Band, you can actually create a decent finished product complete with a vocal, and band tracks that you have created individually. You can’t record your vocal with this app. I just generates your backing track.

I know a lot about music theory, but even if I didn’t, I can hear any chord instantly with one touch, so you can go by sound and don’t need any musical training to use this app. The styles range from reggae to jazz, to pop, bossa and blues. When you get the genre specific expansions, then you can really find what you want.

I am not an audio engineer, but I think the bank of pre-recorded snippets all sound fabulous. You can select special bars for endings and even set specific drum fills that are attached to your chords.

To me, the graphics are totally logical and extremely simple. The app gives me a linear timeline that I drop chords into, which I can stretch or shrink to the right duration. I don’t have to create a drum part or a bass part, I just pick a style and everything is done for me. Sure, the trade-off for this incredible amount of ease is that I can’t get exactly the bass line I might want, but I can get myself in the ballpark. Plus, I can explore styles that I am totally unfamiliar with and learn a thing or two.

I was a little disappointed that I can’t do syncopated chord changes. Chords will all snap to the beginning of a beat, and if you try to get around this by doubling the tempo and stretching out every bar to two bars, it only kind-of works. I was also a little disappointed that the tempo range was limited in certain styles.

4