Thursday, August 28, 2014

Redefining the iPhone Studio

Things have been relatively hectic these past few months.  It started when I expanded my single iPhone studio to also include an older iPhone 4s.  I have been exploring the idea of not only composing music exclusively on iOS devices, but also creating visual content to accompany the music.  Usually it is the other way around, but I was not born with filmmaking in my blood; rather it is sound waves.  As a result of this interest in graphics, video and animation my highway merged with the narrow road which also includes camera apps, video editing apps, photo editing and effects apps, animation studios, art apps...actually the whole gamut of what I went rough in exploring audio potentials now includes visuals.

I was glad to have gone through all the work and expense of music exploration as a primer, because now I venture without the hazy gloss of enamored awe.  Objectively, I have now found every quality photo, movie, studio, effect app available and learned (all while continuing with my music growth) how to actually use them.  The capabilities are amazing; and while I have been searching for good subject and trying to talk myself into also wearing the screenwriter's cap, a friend was so kind as to give me his older iPad 2.   Dreamy!  (Thank you again, by the way.)

Now, I have wanted to stay true to the iPhone exclusivity of music production, but let's face it, working on an iPad is just so much more rewarding, the app layout is so much better and there are so many features I had no idea I was missing while using the iPhone version of an app.  Of course, the apps made for iPhone are no different on the iPad, the are just weirdly huge and the top sliver is obscured by the iOS status bar.  Nice incentive to upgrade to the HD version, but l am trying to stop spending money on apps, not purchase redundance.  I am not going on a rant about app prices here, because the point is that now there is a third device to include in the studio.

Excited am I to now have multiple cameras on devices which can are also capable of playing roles in the production of this music and art performance I am currently developing.  Writing music is tough business.  Screenwriting is tough business.  Filmmaking is tough business.  Trying to do all three at once live on a stage is not just three times as much, my target dates for release now go out additionally so delays compounding delays is staring me square in the eyes.  These are exciting times.  I love both the inherent challenges and rewards; but what I like more is collaboration.  

Here's the subject: "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse set in twelve parts (one for each chapter) with visuals and sound to tell the story of a man in current times whose life is strikingly similar.  Think Pink Floyd: The Wall, only more incense and less heroin.  ;-). Anyone interested in being a part of this epic journey so that we can say together "WE did it!" please let me know.

twitter: @greannedsoims


Friday, May 2, 2014

Multitrack DAW: Adds IAA Instruments

"Multitrack DAW" has updated and now includes 'instruments' classification to IAA audio inserts.  Synchronization via MIDI coupled with improved IAA node support...HarmonicDog has really stepped up the game.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Roulette & The iPhone Musician

Today I received the pop-up message that iOS 7.1 is now available and would I like to install it.

Of course I want to install it.  It was just last night before going to sleep I wondered about the status of the update and what it would mean and when I should expect to see it.  All three articles I read agreed that it might just be a while.  Gaging it on the "Golden Master Beta" release to testers worldwide not being released yet kept everyone in the guessing.

So, I'm sitting here doing the usual backing-up-of and this off-the-wall thought occurs to me.  I guess it has something to do with how beautiful the blue sky and cumulonimbus passing by as viewed through the still-barren but budding limbs of the maple out my window, but I feel happy, like I just won some lottery of nature and today I get sunshine.  Yay!  Then I think of how often it's grey and dull, but things like last night's last burst of rich pink-amber light made my neighborhood look like it would through rose colored glasses; only I did not need any glasses.  It was totally awesome to say the least.  Needless to say, the weather where I live is a lot like the game of Craps.

Then the thought occurs to me: what we go through as musicians, or what we go through as process of life, really, is not so much like the game of Craps; it's more like the game of Roulette and we the ball!  The game starts out by the ball getting forcefully tossed into a spinning world of craziness.  At first the ball does a lot of going around in circles and then it bounces around for a bit; finally coming to rest in a notched-out, little groove.  Hopefully the landing spot is one of prosperity, eh?

Oh good, it looks like my Apps are now restoring.  Should not be much longer until I can experience my freshly re-installed studio within the new (hopefully improved) iOS 7.1.  I am totally Jonesin' for some Suitcase EP time.  Man, putting the Neo-Soul Keys and the CMP Grand together is like a marriage in heaven.  When it comes to the funky-funk it's Pure Neo-Soul for me.

Am I the only one who is glad the green icons in iOS 7.1 are darker?

Ciao for now!

#iPhone #iOS #Music Rocks!

Why Animoog for iPhone is Dead

I had been following the progress of the iPhone as a music production platform from the beginning of the iPhone; which started out offering not much more than what my BlackBerry could do, so I remained loyal to BlackBerry; but I kept a watchful eye on the iPhone.  

When Animoog hit the scene, I was very excited.  I always loved the sound of what a Moog synth makes and I could hardly believe copies of the app sold for only $9 bucks.  A Moog for $9 bucks is pretty incredible after all.  

BlackBerry had pretty much gone the way of the Dodo; and even though Animoog was released for the BlackBerry, one app was insufficient to stop me from switching to the iPhone.  Naturally, Animoog was high on my priorities of which apps to gather as I began building my iPhone studio.

Animoog turned out to be not really what I had hoped: a virtual Moog synth; but transitioning along paths between wavetables created some nice sounds quite true to an actual Moog, so it sufficed.  Amazing to me was the great extent of modulation within the app.  I mean, you can morph between some really rich wavetables and have power to do pretty much anything to those wavetables like you could an oscillator.  

Coupling that modulation with the programmable (and quite expressive) playing surface made playing those modulations in real time, on-screen-super-easy and quite thrilling.  Playing Animoog with my KORG controller keyboard really brought it to life.  I remember how awesome it felt the first time the sound of a Moog came billowing from my speakers with a fatness and clarity that none of my other virtual synths at the time possessed.  

What struck me as odd, however, was that it was wavetable-based at all.  Moog does not make wavetable synths, they are pure-analog, baby; and that's why everyone loves their Moog so much!  Still this one sounded so good, I really did not mind the means to this sonic end.  The IAP add-on sound banks are also off the hook and, more than ever, I wanted those sounds to be part of my music projects and experiments.

As fate would have it, Audiobus came to my view; and although it had only been available for a few months, a lot of music app developers were jumping on-board as the list of apps supporting Audiobus grew.  It was exciting and I had high hopes that Moog would invest the time to make the sounds of Animoog available for streaming to one of my DAWs for recording in composition via Audiobus.  I was very excited and dove deep into programming sounds in preparation.  

Animoog then updated on the iPad to support Audiobus.  I jumped out of my chair with excitement because this meant that Moog would certainly do the same for the iPhone version; but it was naive for me to think so.  As it turns out, some developers wait for a good return from the iPad version of their app before they approach the iPhone/iPod touch version.  Universal apps being excepted for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, as I was waiting for Animoog's pending update, I decided to purchase a copy of Filtatron.  Also made by Moog, it is essentially a Moogerfooger on the iPhone with all the bells and whistles required to go all wicked-crazy-like on a sound signal running through it.  Like Animoog, it did not support Audiobus; but I could run my mic input through it, generate & tweak the internal oscillator and trip-out a sample played with the internal sample recorder/player.  What makes Filtatron even more happening is being able to mix all three sources for a Caesar Salad of twisting.  Of course you do not have to go all crazy with the Cheese Wiz to make use of it.  Mild settings make for remarkable subtleties of modulation to enrich any signal passing through.

I, like many other iPhone-wielding Animoog/Filtatron lovers the world over, pleaded with Moog for months to see an update for both apps.  So when Filtatron updated to support Audiobus and Animoog did not, I was taken aback just a little; well, quite a lot actually.  I was certainly excited to now make use of Filtatron with all the fluidity in workflow I had been dreaming of; but I was plagued as to: "Why not Animoog also?"

Well, the more I used Filtatron, the more I thought it would be fun to own an actual Moogerfooger.  I have no need of such a thing.  I am iPhoneMusician for a reason and I do not play guitar well enough to warrant going to town on a bunch of hardware I will likely never use.  Then it dawned on me: this Filtatron is a perfect loss-leader for selling Moogerfoogers!  If it made me want to buy one (or all of them) then certainly it has done the same for many who would actually make good use of it in their physical signal chains.  Taking a survey as to how many people were inspired to buy a Moogerfooger after using Filtatron on their iOS device could prove quite revealing.  Plus, there is the fact of Filtatron now containing a "Catalog" of Moog products for purchase.  It became quite obvious that "as a loss-leader" is how Filtatron serves Moog.  In all actuality, Filtatron is more of a true Moog synthesizer than Animoog could ever be.

This brings me back to what it is that Moog does not do: Moog does NOT make wavetable synths.  It is PPG who invented Wavetable synthesis and the PPGs of the world are unparalleled.  Since Moog has never made a wavetable synth, nor do I imagine they will ever have plans to make one, what is the point of updating Animoog?  From a business perspective and a profit-sheet review, Animoog does nothing to sell other Moog products; so there is no financial incentive for Moog to update Animoog for iPhone (that is, of course, unless you buy a copy and put on the pressure too).

Weeks and months have now passed and I have certainly had a lot of fun with both Filtatron and Animoog on my iPhone; but if you look today through my inventory of installed music apps, you will find Filtatron; but you will not find Animoog.  I keep hoping that I am wrong, and, like a perfectly insane little Lemming, I actually check every day.  I think I will continue to keep checking, but I am no longer holding my breath.  I was starting to turn blue.  ;-)

Ciao for now!

#iPhone #iOS #Music Rocks!

If you would like to purchase Animoog for iPhone anyways, here you go...

Muza Tutorial: Changing Sounds

Changing the sounds within Muza is actually quite easy.  There are actually four control surfaces within the app: "Harmony", "Stripe", "Pad1" and "Pad2".  Harmony is the main (circular) controller;  Stripe is the vertical strip to the right;  Pad1 is the bottom-left square button; and Pad2 the top-left square button.  

To get to the Options screen, press-and-hold the "Edit" button at the center of the Harmony control surface.  Once here you can dive into all the various features and experiment with any settings within the app that you like.

Since we want to change the instrument settings, touch Instrument.

Now press Sample.  The top of the screen now displays: "Tap instrument to edit."


Touch the Harmony control surface and you can change the sound for the Harmony.

Touch the Stripe and you can change the sound for the Stripe.

Touch Pad1 to change its sound…

…and same for Pad2.

The ring around the Harmony control surface is the selector dial which rotates to change the option.  It works on all the settings in the app.   So now that you know how to choose the surface you want to edit, you can edit whatever you want for any of the four surfaces.

The only downside is that when you move the dial to a new sample you have to load it by pressing the LOAD button in the center of the screen.  It makes for a little extra button-pushing, but it certainly is not the end of the world as we know it.

Okay, so now that you know how to use the dial to change the sound, remember that this is the same way to change all the settings: just dial it in!  :-)  Since Muza was really designed as a MIDI controller for your other instruments, each of the four controllers can also be set to an individual MIDI channel.  Plus you can set volume, pan, dynamics, etc. for each of the control surfaces.  Pretty cool.

Now is time to go have fun and make experiments.  I really hope this helps.  Be sure to keep me posted.

Ciao for now!

If you would like to purchase Muza

Friday, February 28, 2014

Muza, my Muse...

I have been playing with Muza for the past several hours since downloading it from the App Store; and what I have to say about it is:  Muza is really cool.  I really like it.  I was initially put off by the graphics.  My friends and I all agreed that it resembled a really awful spider web: not so appealing; but once I started digging around in the settings and really having a good look at it, I was like: " Holy crap, this Muza is way so much more than 'so cool'...this is totally rad; I mean, if 'rad' had a 'max-tubular', this would be it!  Seriously."

I think I now kinda have a glimpse of just how awesome it must have been for Captain Nemo when, during his long, deep descent, he took pause to play music.  Certainly what he played upon would most certainly have been a little simething like Muza.  Ascending and descending circular staircases of harmonies and chords (to the left) accompany a two octave tone strip (to the right) and a looping beat player button in the upper-left corner to keep time and set the groove.  There is also a button in the bottom left corner that emits a sound of its own when pressed.  All the playing surfaces can be assigned individual presets, so multi-sound performances are possible from one screen.
With the settings button dead center of the harmony playing surface, I was worried it would trigger accidentally when I swipe across it while playing, but triggering the settings button requires a 'touch & hold' to activate, so it has been no problem so far.  :-)  The included sounds are raw and totally retro-awesome with a nice variety of timbres from which to choose.  When controlling other instruments with Muza the internal sounds can be adjusted to fit the mix or turned off entirely so that you hear your external instruments only.  The beat-box looper offers a fun variety of beats which make dorky jammin'-out totally rad!  Well, at least I am having fun with it.

Okay, so I thought it would be fun to conjure up my Mellotron and play a bit using Muza to connect my fingers to Manetron 2, but alas, no MIDI in Manetron 2.  Bummer.  I connected to Square Synth (which is 4-track multi-timbral) and that has been a lot of fun, so it's all good.  I'm really wishing Alchemy Mobile Studio was also multi-timbral via MIDI right about now.  Since both of the buttons on Muza as well as the two playing surfaces it will be fun to see what I can find to trigger within my little universe of apps collection.  :-).

For the future, I would really like the app to keep running in the background.  Audiobus and IAA support would also we gladly received as the sounds in Muza are quite well done.  I love the range of sound and would like to stream it through Filtatron for some audio wrangling.  MIDI CC# assignments for the buttons as well as clock sync would be a nice improvement as would a graphics update so that it  fills the current iPhone display.  It would give the controls just a little more breathing room and allow some more of the environmental graphic coolness of the background design to shine through!
God, I am such a nerd.

#iPhone #iOS #Music #Apptronica Rocks!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's In A Name?

So I was thinking just a moment ago about the whole OS naming convention currently in use by Apple.  I mean, OS X Mavericks is all fancy and I am certain an entire panel was formed for the sole purpose of determining the new name and its impacts on global perception and if that was a good thing; and if it was a good thing, would it reflect well to the share holders and would consumers flock, stock prices rise and could profits soar more if another name was used in its stead?  Perhaps the name also had to portray a bold new image for a company on the path of re-definition after the tragic loss of their visionary founder and leader, Steve Jobs.  (RIP, Steve; I miss you, man!)  Perhaps the name had to summarize all these and engender a whole lot more.  Needless to say it was a lot of work and time and energy spent, as well as a number of egos bent, to come up with and analyze the viability and then study the impacts of the whole silly naming of the system thing in the first place.

(I just had a vision of King Arthur Knighting Galahad: "Sir")

To me the future is simple; the family of OS offerings over at Apple must necessarily converge into one universal and highly-adaptable system to run on all operational Apple devices.  This would be somewhat akin to what the good folks have done over at Google.  BTW, if I wanted to use the Google system, I would be using an Android device, right? Same goes for Microsoft and Lynux.  Hopefully it will not be too long before we see an array of feature-full devices sporting the Lynux system.  Don't get me  wrong, these other systems are just fine, I just prefer the Apple way.  Nevertheless, what they have done at Google has made it so that their latest Android OS will run on all currently operational Android devices; and the capabilities of that system are limited only by the capabilities of the device upon which it operates.  That is both smart and wise, if you ask me.

That does not mean that some old junker Android from 2009 will be able to run the latest virtual synth or DAW, but it does mean that if you still want to keep using your beloved "Vintage" Android from 2009, you will still be able to keep on using it for what it can do today for many years to come.  Still want to use your original first generation iPhone?  You could potentially resurrect it and be super fly with your vintage gear.  Hot!  For some people that is not only sufficient but exceptional.  My iPhone can do some pretty cool things today.  If it can keep doing those things until the day comes that I decide to stop replacing parts, well then I would like to keep my iPhone going for a very long time.  Longevity!  That's the word I was looking for.  Would a first-generation iPhone work for my purposes?  Absolutely not; but that does not preclude its being sufficient for the purposes of someone else who has other requirements far less demanding than a mobile music production studio.  

From my perspective, any device should maintain usability for a number of years and hopefully its usability could span a few centuries or so.  My original KORG Poly-800II from 1987 still works today with the same capacity it did when it was new, and I bought it brand new 27 years ago!  It just makes more sense to create something durable and long-lasting.

(Another vision just hit me: this time of my iPhone being chiseled out of a lava flow many centuries hence.  With great anticipation they push the power button and it boots right up.  Smudged with grease and dripping with sweat, they all start dancing to my music!)

I kind of expect more from my iPhone, actually.  It appears to be built well, with exquisite detail in construction and it offers an array of sensors and gadgets capable of performing numerous tasks from various input sources and it cost about the same as did my 1987 KORG which can do a whole lot less than my current iPhone.  Replacing a battery or a banged screen, I am sure we can all agree that these should not cost so much; but to have to retire a perfectly useful device in its entirety simply because the company which created it no longer supports it seems kind of wasteful.  Actually, it almost displays a sore lack of vision; near-sighted at best.  I mean, what would Rome or Venice be without their ancient streets and buildings?  Is having an ancient tool so out of fashion?  I kind of think centuries-old things that still work are often more interesting than latest invention.  That they still function is bordering miraculous.  We are certainly capable of making such.

The unification of OS model would mean I could potentially keep on using my 2006 MacBook for years to come; she's almost double-digits as is.  I could also keep on using my current iPhone, and both my iPhone and MacBook could be running the same verion of the same OS and my newest iPhone could be running it too.  Cheers!  (and the crowd goes wild)  The unification of OS model would also keep my MacBook and iPhone up to date with new technologies that could function on older hardware even "legacy devices" like my old iMac G5 (god rest her dear soul) or older, like the Blueberry iMac of the turn of the century and older, could find new life and a restored, potentially enhanced, usefulness.  

When I bought my iPhone I looked at it (and still do) as the first in a string of cumulative instruments, audio workhorses which, within a few years, will triple or quadruple the sound capabilities of what my current iPhone and MacBook offer.  I am also really looking forward to playing with WIST and syncing some serious compositions.  Consider also that I may break-down and get another bigger mobile device like an iPad in the near future, and then it becomes a studio of several iPhones, an iPad and my old MacBook; that is if Apple supports it.  There is a Future Sonic Madman in the making over here.  I have a long-term goal, but does Apple have a long-term support vision to help me reach it cumulatively?  I certainly hope so.  It would be cool.  Way cool, really.

That brings me back to the whole "when that day comes" part, when all OS(es) under Apple unite and all obsolete hardware rejoices, with one question: What, then, will they call it?  Really, solving the whole naming system conundrum is simple:  just call it "The Apple System".  That is precicely what it is after all.  The Apple System (even though it was originally authored by Microsoft) is what it was in the beginning and from that humble birth has become the amazement which it is today; and a "system" is what it will always be: "The Apple System."

(Cue: James Brown: "I Feel Good")

Ooh, how about this..."The Apple System for accomplishing tasks aided by a computational device."  (That's me quoting myself just in case there are legal disputes at some future time) And it will run beautifully on all my Apple hardware, both current and future; oooh, and wouldn't it be cool if The Apple System could run on 'vintage' BlackBerry devices also?   Ha!  One can dream, right?   ;-)

Ciao for Now!

#iPhone #iOS #Music Rocks!