Bloom is a new generative musical application for iPhone and iPod touch, created by Brian Eno and software designer Peter Shilvers. It’s quite simple, but if you’re looking for some soothing musical strains to float out of your mobile Apple device, this is your ticket. At launch, you’re given a choice of either using a pre-determined set of rules, or tapping in your own parameters and patterns. The touch interface lets you use your fingers to add note patterns, which then repeat and mutate. If you make your own composition, you’ll start those patterns from a blank slate, but even if you choose an existing composition, you can tap solos over the top. The taps turn into patterns that transform themselves when the system is “idle,” rather than repeating indefinitely.

The results aren’t terribly deep – everything has a more or less similar ambient vibe, and tapping patterns in feels only barely interactive. It’s tough to predict the results and the patterns generally mutate on their own. The app is clearly geared for casual users, though it’s pretty wonderful for that audience. If you want depth, I’d stay tuned for the launch of RjDj; its generative apps, built in the open-source modular multimedia software Pd, are virtually unlimited in their musical capabilities, and they make use of the iPhone’s mic and sensors. (More on RjDj coming later this week.) See also full-featured generative software on PC/Mac, including the free Nodal, the excellent and deep Intermorphic offerings (from a team that has collaborated with Eno in the past), or even the game soundtrack for EA’s Spore, led by Eno as composer.

But that said, the compositions here are really beautiful, and it’s fantastic to watch the Apple mobile morph from simple playback devices into generative, interactive computers. Any fan of Eno or generative music will definitely want to snap this up for US$3.99.

Bloom @ iTunes App Store

Here’s what the app sounds like:

Bloom generative sound sample 1

Bloom generative sound sample 2

Let us know what you think. Any other similar apps coming out on iTunes?

  • Andreas

    Bought it in a heartbeat. It's like Ambient 3 only it comes with colours.

  • http://www.LEGENDmag.net kc!

    bought it before even reading the review, love interesting interfaces, especially for creating music.

  • http://www.normanfairbanks.com Norman

    This is so cool Peter. I just love it! A generative system on a phone,.. I mean, did anyone ever believe this to be an app in an online store so soon?

  • KimH

    Looks very cool- still exploring. So far it seems like everything has a fair amount of the top two piano octaves. I'm hoping that some of the moods are more focused on pads without all of the discrete notes.

    Like Andreas, I bought this in a heartbeat. I've been waiting for generative ambient music on the iPhone ever since the App Store opened.

  • http://www.davidkanaga.com David

    I love this!

    While they may not not have much musical "depth," I feel that systems like this and Electroplankton are more about the aesthetic of the interface and of focused interactivity than they are about the creative control that they give the user.

    Honestly, I wouldn't want more parameters that I could edit, because then I would! The piece would become more tool, and less composition.

    That said, I could go for a few more "compositions," or movements–whatever–to be included in the program. I'd love to see what Eno and Chivers could do with some different rule sets.

  • http://www.quoico.com RichardL

    Bravo!

  • MikeH

    Lovely, amazing.

    Unfortunately mine has audio glitches. At least one other person has posted a review on the App Store mentioning this.

  • http://wowcool.com/engine Marc Arsenault

    To fully get your Eno on, there is a free Oblique Strategies app that does everything the way it should.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Oh, yeah, forgot to mention Oblique Strategies. I've been very much enjoying that.

    Audio glitches, strange. Which firmware version are you on? Mine has been fine on my iPod touch.

  • richardl

    @MikeH,

    What kind of device do you have? I am having some glitches on a 32GB 2G iPod Touch but not on a 16GB 1st Gen iPod Touch. I've been in touch with Peter Chilvers, and he is working hard to resolve the problem. You might want to contact him through "support" at "generativemusic.com" with details of your problem.

  • JF

    I'm having a similar audio glitch as MikeH on my 16GB Touch 2GB.

  • KimH

    No glitches here- 16GB 3G iPhone/2.1

    I managed to get pads-only by tapping the "Freeze" button during a quiet period. This is a very cool app- I hope they develop it further.

  • MikeH

    @richardl,

    16GB iPod touch. I found that I can make the glitch go away by "sleeping" the iPod (i.e., turning the screen off) — it seems the sound and graphics in the app are too much for the processor (and accordingly, it eats battery life like there's no tomorrow).

    Unfortunately, that workaround kills the whole interactive aspect.

    I have sent in a support email, thanks. I'm sure there will be some kind of update before too long. I'm sure it will have to wait through the approval process by Apple though.

  • MikeH

    Forgot to mention: iPod touch is 2nd Gen, software version 2.1

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Sounds like a 2.1 issue. I'm on 2.0.4 or whatever — no problem.

  • JF

    Yeah, I'm on 2.1.1 as well. Any way to backtrack? This app would honestly be worth it.

  • http://www.rolandreinke.com Roland Reinke

    Opps… I really want an iPhono now ;-) – — or is this being developed for normal computers, too?

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  • http://www.hardformat.org Colin-at-Hard-Format

    I love this. If these sort of interfaces could be developed further I might finally get round to trying to make music, something I've always struggled with to date. Lower the bar far enough and even the likes of me might jump in!

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  • http://www.intermorphic.com tim

    Way after the event :) , but Mixtikl 2 was finally released for iPhone/iPod touch Dec 2009. A Generative music and loop mixing system, also with versions for PC/Mac, Windows Mobile and with VST/AU/Browser Plugins. http://intermorphic.com/tools/mixtikl/index.html. iTunes appstore link is: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mixtikl-2/id347409