At Drake Music Scotland, the charity behind Figurenotes, we love using Thumbjam. Obviously, we love using Figurenotes too, so we wanted to find a way to combine the two. Our Associate Musician, Clare Johnston, came up with a brilliant way to use Figurenotes with Thumbjam on the iPad.

Clare is a bit of a Thumbjam virtuoso. Watch her perform her beautiful composition for three voices on Thumbjam.

For Clare’s full instructions on how to combine Thumbjam with Figurenotes, take a look in the Resource Base.

Clare created an underlay, which can be used with Thumbjam to show Figurenotes, just like in the image above. In order to do this, you will need a graphics editor capable of layers and transparency. Clare’s tutorial uses Adobe Draw on the iPad (free), cutting out the need for extra costs and an additional Mac or PC.

Set Thumbjam to the correct scale, octave, and span that you’ll be using for your piece; take a screenshot of this. Open the image in Adobe Draw so that it fills the whole screen. By creating new layers and adding a blue tint, Figurenotes shapes and colours, and setting them in the correct place on the screen, Clare has come up with a way to incorporate Figurenotes notation into Thumbjam performance. Once this process is complete, the original screenshot image is deleted, leaving you with an underlay for your Thumbjam screen.

Before moving across to the Thumbjam app, check whether the underlay image fills the whole screen by opening it using your Photos app. Then you are ready to move your underlay into Thumbjam.

  • Open Thumbjam
  • Go to the Preferences menu
  • Click on Options
  • Scroll down to Background Image
  • Click on Custom
  • Find your underlay image and click to use

The Figurenotes shape will disappear when you play that note, so some players may take some time to get used to this. They reappear as soon as you release the note.

Now marvel in the brilliance and simplicity of Figurenotes with Thumbjam. You could create several of these images for setups you use often, which means you can choose from a library of images without having to complete this process every time you want to combine Figurenotes with Thumbjam. Store the images on your iPad and you can call them up whenever they are needed. Remember you can get full, detailed instructions on the Resource Base.

Thank you, Clare!


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