My impressions about the iOS and music apps

Music, Synthesizers

During the past weeks my brain has been suffering a transformation due to the use of my new iPod (yes, I’m exaggerating).

The first thing that I did It was to configure my emails. And now easier than ever I can check all mi accounts in less than 20 seconds. Before I used to spent at least 7 minutes waiting for the laptop to start just to check my once my email. Now I check my email a few dozen times a day… I even read the spam…

Advantages and disadvantages… actually It was very cool that I didn’t had to carry my netbook during my last trip because I could check emails, maps, and touristic information in the iPod.

The frustration

Since I’m a developer there are many ideas that I have of possible apps that I could create. The bad thing is that I just can’t. First I don’t have a mac, therefore I cannot use the development tools 😦 … and even when I have a mac, I need to pay 100 bucks (a year) if I want to transfer my app to my iPod.

Until I get the money for that, I just can consume but not create.

My opinion on (a few) music apps

The first App that I downloaded was Rebirth (before Figure was out). I got it because Propellerheads makes Reason that is a great and easy to use program. I could say that using Rebirth in the iPod was a little bit disappointing. Since it was an a adaptation of the PC version, it was hard to use in a small touch screen.

Then I got iKaossilator from Korg

I really like this app. It is very easy to use and fun. Since it is like drawing, you can let your subconscious mind trace the music patterns.

I hope they upgrade the application by letting us add our own instruments… and a grid would be useful too.

The next application in  my list is Thumbjam.

This app sounds great and it is very easy to create expressive  parts. It has so many features that I haven’t explored all of them. Maybe the menus are not well designed but it is a great app. I specially like the sound of the acoustic instruments.

One of the apps that I use more often is iMaschine

This app has a very good balance among, features, sound and simplicity. Today this is my favorite (lets see how Figure evolves).

There are other apps that I like a lot, specially when using a MIDI input like iRig MIDI or Line6 MIDI Mobilizer. Animoo and Alchemy Mobile have very cool sounds and I specially like the way yo can manipulate the sound thanks to the touch screen. I use these apps more as instruments, but it would be great if I could assign the knobs of my MIDI controller to tweak parameters.

Amplitube is a nice app, the sound is good taking into consideration that it is using the iPod to simulate the effects, amp, cabinet and microphone. However it has one disadvantage for me… if I have my guitar I also have my POD HD300 that sounds by far better. I never travel carrying mi guitar, therefore I almost never use it.

 The full music studio in an iPod

There are very nice apps like Garageband, FL Studio Mobile, Nano Studio and Energy XT. These apps have very cool features, however, I think that the iPod/iPhone is too small and sometimes it feels slow for the task. I guess that in the new iPad these apps have more sense…

Maybe it just needs a little bit of help… things like the MPC Fly for the iPad seem very promising…

We just need to wait a few months to see the revolution.

Advertisements

The reason I got an iPod

Nostalgia

A  few days ago I finally decided (after 3 years thinking) to buy an iPod. I was still very happy with my Creative MuVo Tx; 512 MB (around four albums), over a week of battery life, USB stick function , compact and simple. However, the touch screen+apps is very seducing.

In my head, I have a set of ideals… and the main of all is the “freedom”. That ideal allows me to freely change the other ideals…

I always thought I was going to get an Android  phone when I decided to change my current phone. But my minimalistic Samsung Corby is great. I can make calls, send SMS, check my email, but the best of all is that the battery last around two weeks (Yes I’m obsessed with battery life). My phone and my MP3 player (fortunately) refuse to die 🙂

Then I started reading some things like this about the Android OS:

Issue 3434:     need NDK support for real-time low latency audio; synchronous play and record (Note: I don’t know if this has been solved nowadays)

That’s to bad for the developers of audio apps. Since I want to create and use audio apps I was forced to go for the Apple products.

I went to the store I got the iPod touch 8GB, the cheapest version… and the first thing that I made was to  get some music apps and a nice case 🙂

A new journey starts…

HackPrism a MIDI controller inspired by SoundPrims

Art, Music, Synthesizers

Last December I had the opportunity to try for the first time an iPad. (Yes I know, I’m a little bit delayed). It was really amazing the number of music apps available. You can find from apps that fart, to complete DAWs. One of my favorite apps was SoundPrism by Audanica.

Soundprism is a software midi controller that simplifies playing chords. I tried it and in a few minutes I was making nice songs. The best part is that, using the iPad, you have the multitouch screen and it feels really natural playing that thing.

There is even a short film in which the music was completely created using SoundPrism: Julie, Agosto, Setembro.

Sadly I don’t have an iPad, and I don’t have any plants to buy one. But still I wanted to be able to use SoundPrism. That’s why I made my own basic version using Processing.

My version is very basic and does not include any of the nice features available in the Pro version of SoundPrism. This is a screen shot:

If you want to use it, you need 5 things:

  1. Processing
  2. “The Midi Bus”  library
  3. LoopBE1 or any other virtual MIDI cable
  4. A software synthesizer or midi instrument
  5. My source code

If you are new in these things, I will guide you step by step.

Go to http://processing.org/ and download processing. I use the 2.0a4 version. I recommend you to download this version since makes very easy the installation of libraries. This is the direct link.

Once is decompressed in your favorite folder, run processing and go to  Sketch->Import Library-> Add Library. Now select and install “the Midi Bus” library and restart processing.

Now you have to install a virtual Midi cable. Since I’m using Windows 7, I recommend LoopBE1. Download it and install it. If you are a Mac or Linux user, there should be some equivalent software but I can’t help you now.

Now we need something to make noises. If you don’t have any program installed, I recommend you Native Instruments Mikro Prism. That is a free plugin that you can run with the Reaktor Player (also free). Once Reaktor player and Mikro Prism are installed you need to be sure that Reaktor can receive MIDI signals from LoopBE1. Go to File->Audio and MIDI settings, in the MIDI tab check that “LoopBE internal MIDI” is ON.

Now you just need my magic source code. you can get it from my public Dropbox folder HERE.

Now prepare everything. Open Processing, open my code. Run Reaktor Player, load Mikro Prism. Press the play button in Processing and you should see HackPrism. Play some notes with the mouse and enjoy.

If you know a little bit programming, you can modify my code and add different scales to play with. Now it is up to you.

If you like it post a comment, and if you have a iPad I encourage you to get the Pro version of SoundPrism.

No it’s not my birthday

Electronics, Music, Nostalgia

A few days ago me and my flatmate went to throw some trash to the recycling room. I was very happy when I saw that someone left this beauty  in the electronics container.

Even when here it is illegal to take the things from the container, I felt like a “savior” not as a “thieve” when I took this to my house. First I thought to take all the electronics, but it was a very nice surprise that the keyboard works perfectly.

This keyboard is a Casiotone MT-65. It is almost as old as me. The sound is very nice. According to Wikipedia this series of keyboards uses a synthesis method called “Vowel-Consonant synthesis”. The thing that I liked the most is a type of  delayed modulation that sounds like having aftertouch. You press the key, and some milliseconds after it starts to modulate the sound with a tremolo like. Most of the sounds a very interesting.

One cool thing is the rhythm box. It has many rhythms programmed and you can change the tempo with a knob to get cool effects.

This guy made an interesting modification to the keyboard:

Thank you very much to the person that gave me this present.

Mocotron: a Monotron inspired Reaktor instrument

Create, Electronics, Music, Synthesizers

Today I made a small Reaktor instrument based on the Monotron Synth

I really like this small synthesizer because it sounds very natural. I love the analog sound.

This is my version:

You can download it from the Reaktor user library HERE.

This is how the model looks:

I have also uploaded demo sound to Soundcloud, but the MP3 file that I made sounds really crappy.

(Now I know why it is called LAME encoder)

Everything is a Remix Videos

Art, Music, Nostalgia

A few weeks ago I was playing with a step sequencer that I made in Processing. I used a random approach to get something with a good sound… by just tweaking I got a very nice bass line… but then I started to think… maybe that cool bass line wasn’t product of mine…

Luckily I started watching these “shocking” videos that helped me overcome the potential (not-yet-proved) plagiarism of my bass line.

It’s a series of 4 videos, all of them are great.

After watching these videos I think that I going to change my approach of making music… I’m always trying to get the most original sounds, without using samples… maybe that’s the reason I’m not very productive.

 

Aphex Twin changed my life too

Music

I was watching this video where this guy comments the strong influence that Aphex Twin had in his musical career… and some way I feel the same.

The first time I listened to Aphex Twin was on MTV (when it used to be good). I saw the video “Come to daddy”

That SCREAM !!!!

For the first time I realized that not all electronic music was meant to enjoy only with drugs.

The same way that not all songs that use a guitar fall in one classification, not all the songs that use synthesizers are the same… some music just sucks.