More Cowbell, and Bongos, and Hi-Hats, and Toms . . .

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BeatKeep is a virtual drum kit that lets you create and save multi-track percussion loops using a huge range of samples. It’s an addictive demonstration of the possibilities offered by HTML5.

You begin by clicking "Create" on the BeatKeep home page, then selecting a first instrument—say, the Kick Drum from the Simple Drumkit category. This assigns Kick Drum to the first track, and from there you can change settings for that track (such as its volume and how finely to subdivide each measure), plus global settings for the entire mix (time signature, tempo, length). Then you start adding beats by clicking in the boxes provided for each measure; where you click sets the volume for that particular beat.

You may continue layering new tracks on top of your base track, at any point auditioning the mix and tweaking settings. Add a snare and a tom to the kick drum, or congas, cowbells, and a crash cymbal. Delete tracks, add more, change volumes, change tempo. Get it just right, and then, if you’d like to share your creation, click the “Save” button (this requires allowing BeatKeep access to your Facebook account). Saved loops appear on the BeatKeep home page, where you may browse and comment on others’ contributions. You’re even welcome to “clone” any mix and then edit it to create your own variation.

BeatKeep is made possible by the new HTML5 Audio element. Audio elements may contain sounds in a variety of formats like MP3 (which are supported by Internet Explorer 9, Safari, and Chrome). Be forewarned, however: of the browsers capable of running BeatKeep, only Internet Explorer 9 played my mixes accurately; the others couldn’t trigger the samples fast enough.

This story, "More Cowbell, and Bongos, and Hi-Hats, and Toms . . ." was originally published by BrandPost.