Thursday, September 13, 2012 by Tim Webb
Yamaha continues to release subpar apps, but this one is particularly sad. Once again they miss an excellent opportunity.
Song Beats is a finger drumming app, and perhaps the best for learning the finger independence necessary to finger drum. You get little visual indicators to let you know which note is coming up next, and they light up when you should tap the on-screen drum pads. This would be an amazing app and easy to recommend, but Yamaha insists on crippling the app to sell you songs for $3 a pop! Due to licensing issues, you don't even have that as an option if you're outside of the US.
Since 60% of the people coming to this site are outside of the US, I've spent the morning hacking at the internals of this thing trying to find a way to make it useful. The files it uses are just MIDI, but they are a proprietary version of the MIDI format. No matter what I try I can't get anything else to work.
There are seriously thousands of free MIDI files for many popular songs, so it would have been nice if you could just plug one of those in. Instead you need to have a Yamaha MIDI file, which are about $8 each on Yamaha's site. The In-App Store has only a handful at the $3 price.
I'm done with this. If anyone else wants to pick up the torch, there is The Unofficial YAMAHA Keyboard Resource Site. It has lots of utilities people use to fight with Yamaha's files just to get them working between different Yamaha keyboards. I couldn't get any of them to work, and some of the files actually crashed the app.