Monday, 25 October 2010

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

So, i got me an iPad and...

Well, finally i accepted my fate and bought myself an iPad. 64 Gb that i'm having a hard time to fill with stuff. I should probably have bought a 32 Gb version with 3G instead of only the wi Fi version. I bought mine second hand, apparently from a student who was more interested in the hard, cold cash, instead of Apple's new device.

Is it worth it? Well, you could do more stuff with a nice laptop and Reason. But on the other hand, it's pretty easy to operate and it's pretty portable and battery life is eternal. I used to carry with me a Roland PMA-5 to play with. It now rests in a shelf, disguised as a book. It's a nice machine, though, don't misunderstand me. The difference is that the iPad can be a thousand things instead. It can replace your Tenori On, your Lemur and your Korg Kaoss Pad.

There are some shortcomings, though. If you want to put samples inside, you have to use WiFi. There's no audio input, although the built in mic is pretty good.

Anyways, no more text, here are some videos of the musical apps for the iPad. Currently there are 938 musical applications in the App Store, and i'll just be reviewing the most relevant for me, in a completely random way.

All the audio was recorded separately, i later added the voiceover. Please excuse my wildly varying accent. It changes randomly, according to the last movie i saw.

Here's the Reactable App:

And here are some of my favourite apps.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Making music on your iPad / iPhone / iPod touch.

Let me begin this article by stating two things:

1) First than anything, I am not an Apple fan. In fact, i hate Apple. I think that Apple product owners are basically pretentious cunts who like to own expensive stuff and gloat about it in exclusive New York clubs, like to wear white pants and crocs and are most of the time friends with or fans of Paris Hilton, and possibly they are Paris Hilton themselves.

I am a PC person. A Google person. A DIY person. I hate Apple's policy of giving you a nice computer that is never really yours to hack, use, or slash at your will, unless you do the following:

Ipad smoke. Don't breath that. Seriously.

2) Most of what i'm writing in this article can be found in this article, and it's better written, it's wittier and smarter, and i'm certain that the writer smells better than me. Yes, he probably smells like Pierce Brosnan, or at least what i fantasize about how Pierce Brosnan smells like.

Okay, now, let's get to it.

What do you get when you get an iPad ? Well, not much, if you buy the whole thing you get 64 Gb storage, a built in microphone and a capacitive 9 inches multitouch screen. Plus limited conectivity to every other device at home.

However, the good thing is not in the specs department, but on the software and how it uses the multitouch screen for musical purposes.

We already had some decent music apps on the iphone/ipod platform, and they were good but heavily hindered by the small screen size. Example:

Nice ladies, huh ? But now, look at this beauty:

The problem that i see, is that we still don't have enough ways to get audio inside the iPad. And it's not due to lack of connectivity, it's due to how Apple forces us to handle files inside this specific OS. However, the idea is there.

Now check this other video:

Nice, huh ? The iPad seems like a JazzMutant Lemur killer. Poor Jazzmutant. And it could potentially become a Monome killer. And perhaps a Novation Launchpad killer. Jesus, the iPad could be the Dexter of electronic musical instruments.

When it comes to virtual instruments, the iPad really shines.

You can get the lite version of the Minisynth at the App Store for free. The greatest thing is having the synth and the controller in a single thing, and it being multitouch lets it to be really played. I have a Tablet PC with several VSTs, and it's fun, but in the end it's forcefully monophonic. With the iPad you can actually play a chord and at the same time move the pitch and modulation wheels.

And finally here's the one that irritates me the most:

Not because it's an Electribe in software form - It's because it sounds and looks exactly like my US$350 ESX-1 Electribe. Damn it.

Now, before someone jumps and tells me that i've become an Apphole, let me tell you why you shouldn't go and buy an iPad right now.

1) It's expensive, really. I got a nice HP TC1100 Tablet PC with better specs for US$ 192, used. I don't understand why people get rid of these. If you want an iPad with all the bells and whistles you should expect to pay at this moment nearly US$ 1000. Because there aren't any. Fanbois and early adopters rushed to buy the spawn of Steve Jobs, so that left the average audience (who could give a real use to the stuff) without access to the product. Good luck with finding one and not being ripped off at Ebay.

2) It lacks connectivity. Sure, it has WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G (some models) but those features are severely crippled by Apple, who do not want you to mess with their computer. Besides, it only has a built-in microphone as a device to input audio, and a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack as audio output.

3) It is not a real computer. Okay, okay, don't hit me, but the truth is, and Steve Jobs said so, that it is a device that fills the niche/ecosystem not occupied by smartphones and notebooks. So you can't buy Reason 4 and put it in there. You cannot buy Logic Audio (yet) and put it in there. You cannot expand it. You cannot change the battery. You cannot format it and install Ubuntu. You cannot run this wonderful site (Hobnox Audio Tool) on it because it doesn't support Flash ("and it won't, EVUH !" according to Steve Jobs). You can't download your free VSTi and put them in there because THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO DO THAT.

4) It doesn't do multitasking. So you can't play stuff on a virtual synth, and record it at the same time. A pity.

However, why should we be optimistic and not dispair about the iPad ?

Well, for a start, it is a new thing. It opens spaces, and creates new forms of interacting with technology. Okay, okay, that sounds like taken from a leaflet, but it's true. There's a whole new field in music making since Apple got their greedy hands in this area. And we have a beautiful girl to prove our point. Come on, korean girl. Show them:

Secondly, it will become better with time. It doesn't have USB ports, cameras or other stuff, but once the device becomes massive, the only way to sell more iPads would be to add more features. Apple announced OS 4.0 in a couple of months, and it will (allegedly) support multitasking. So the best is yet to come.

Thirdly, the creation of this kind of device forces competition amongst hardware manufacturers. Both Hewlett Packard and Microsoft announced a couple of similar products (the HP Slate and the Microsoft Courier) and then both decided to withdraw these plans and go back to the drawing board after the iPad came out. That doesn't mean defeat, on the contrary, it's just that the iPad stated clearly that Apple could offer a device that 1) began working as soon as you pressed the ON button, and 2) multitouch was not just a gimmick, but an useful feature and a major selling point. Microsoft and HP are forced to come out with BETTER products if they wanted to get their share of the market.

And fourth, but not least importante, there are the jailbreakers. These are people who armed with only their knowledge of C++ and their desire for a free world, not like 1984, are willing to develop a free application that will let you own your iPad. They are our only hope. They and booze. In large amounts.

So, should you run like an idiot to the next Apple store and buy an iPad ? Well, no, not at this moment. I'd suggest you to wait for the next iteration, which will probably be better and won't fry your balls while you surf the internet with it. However, i'd suggest you to keep your eyes open because this one is just a sign of good things to come in the near future. Of course that if you have the money and want to have the latest gadget right now, go buy it. I will wait until the next generation comes out and lamerz all over the world will turn to ebay to sell their ipads for 100 dollars. Then i will buy six of them and build a multitasking, multi-input, multi-output, 384 Gb sized iCube.

Yeah, don't steal that name from me, Apple. I've registered it.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

How to have a number 1 - the KLF way

Excellent music blog Loudat has posted the KLF's legendary 'Manual'.

Subtitled 'How to have a number one the easy way' it is an absolute gem. Comic, serious, full of bile and useful advice, here's just a taster of the text:

"Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job
or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote
to see it through. Also, being on the dole gives you a clearer
perspective on how much of society is run. If you are already a
musician stop playing your instrument. Even better, sell the junk. It
will become clearer later on but just take our word for it for the
time being. Sitting around tinkering with the Portastudio or musical
gear (either ancient or modern) just complicates and distracts you
from the main objective. Even worse than being a musician is being a
musician in a band. Real bands never get to Number One - unless they
are puppets."

The book also comes with a guarantee that if you follow the advice to the letter and don't have a number one hit, they will refund the cover price. If you follow the instructions and DO have a number one, the KLF will take you for a night out in Madagascar.

Excellent stuff.

Here it is.

And here's a reminder of the wonderfully f*cked-up chart topper that inspired the book:

Vinyl CDs

Textured CDs, printed to look like vinyl and put in 7"-style sleeves. Cool for attention-grabbing promo CDs?
More info here.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Cardboard record player

Brilliant marketing idea. How do you make people take notice of your promo vinyl? How about making the sleeve it comes in a fully functional record player?


From here.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Music lectures

Head here for videos and podcasts of lectures from some of the most innovative and creative music makers in the game today.

Everyone from A Guy Called Gerald to Steve Reich talking about their music making career and creative process.

Get the lowdown from legends such as Arthur Baker, Hank Shockley, Tony Allen and Shut Up & Dance.

Interesting stuff!