Animoog uses the touch interface for an X/Y controller, top, and performance touch strip at the bottom. Marc Doty defends the iPad platform as the venue for those interfaces in a response to issues raised earlier today about iPad interaction, as we continue this discussion.

Among a volume of reactions via Twitter, email, and comment, Marc Doty, who is featured in the brief teaser video for the Animoog, responds to today’s earlier article. Apart from taking issue with what I expressed about the iPad, it’s worth noting that he has some criticism for software synthesizers and MIDI controller keyboards, both of which are also regularly-featured topics on CDM (and yes, I’ll join him in some of those criticisms / limitations):

I’d just like to point out that I’m a musician with an extensive experience of synthesis, and especially analog synthesizers. I am a major proponent of using synthesizers as musical instruments where there is a physical interaction between the user and the device. I spent over a decade programming synths with sequencers and presets, and abandoned all of it so that I could physically interact with synthesizers and be expressive with them… make intentional choices which reflect the music I intend to portray. Software synths, thus far, have put a lot of barriers between the expressive physical musician and the device making the music, which is why I’ve basically had little time for them.
When you see me ::ahem:: “looking ridiculous” in the video, what you’re seeing is my honest and heartfelt response and excitement about the really startling expressive capabilities of the Animoog.
To be honest, I think your gripe is ridiculous. As a person who is absolutely BENT on expressive physical experience, let me just tell you that the “useless” iPad provides an insanely expressive and potentially creative interface. As an exclusively key-pressing guy, I am saying this.
While you go on and on about how stupid the interface is, you should know that these keys that you’re so willing to immediately replace with a shitty MIDI controller (and thereby totally ruin one of the best aspects of this app) are based on a design by Bob Moog himself… the MTS keyboard. He worked for years to build this extremely expressive keyed device for John Eaton. The result was something really special, but never marketed to the public. The physical interface of the iPad allows for the same intentional level of control that existed in the MTS, and it WORKS. In addition to being able to control a stunning variety of aspects of the sound with the keys alone, you also have access to the x/y wavetable, which has it’s own expressive capabilities. I am absolutely baffled as to how you could dismiss the iPad as a lame interface with all of these functional capabilities.
You will NEVER see me playing a soft synth with a stupid plastic shit MIDI keyboard or some TRULY ridiculous knob-twiddlers filter-sweep generating device, but you will definitely see me playing an Animoog next to a Minimoog in live settings, in videos, and more. Is it because they both say “MOOG” on them? Not remotely. Is it because they have really anything in common at all? No, not remotely. It’s because both of them are extremely expressive and great sounding musical instruments.

I don’t want to editorialize further in this response except to say that it was not my intention to imply that Mr. Doty’s reactions to the software were what I was criticizing, but the mode of interaction necessitated by the design of the iPad, as seen when the form factor is visible but the user interface is not. It’s worth noting that because the video I used as illustration was intended as a teaser, the camera angles intentionally hid that touch interface from view. These were certainly not a commentary on Marc Doty himself, whose work I respect.

You can read the rest of what I wrote:
Moog’s iPad Synth Arrives, Looks Great, But is iPad (and Moog) Hype Crossing a Line? [Editorial]

Naturally, we’ll continue this discussion, not just today, but on an ongoing basis.

(Update – for the record, I’m now in touch with Marc, and glad for it! I think we have a lot to talk about here, and I’ve loved his video series in the past. I’m hardly staking out an extreme position here; I like the app, like exploring the potential, and had some criticisms of the marketing and the constraints of the platform. I’m glad we got to hear Marc’s side of the story, too.)

  • noisetheorem

    Sounds like someone got his feelings hurt…

  • noisetheorem

    And just as a note…I think no matter how you cut it, its hard not to look like a dork playing iPad on stage.  Thats just my opinion though. 

  • Hogo

    The iPad is a real, musical, legitimate musical interface. it's not going anywhere, and in a decade the touch paradigm will be inseperable from modern music making. Real instrument manufacturers and others scoffed at synthesizers at their inception, and look where we are now. It's change, and I think it's good. 

  • autoy

    Great answer, really. I think he says what many of us were thinking about the editorial. And about Animoog, the first five minutes I spent with it were like "what and incredibly expressive instrument". It's what's best about all these synths for iOS… the tactile response, the immediacy of the controls, it's just great. So, enjoy your devices and stop worrying for once.

  • Peter Kirn

    No, I respect what to me reads as an impassioned defense of the application with some solid points about what he finds attractive about it, and I think that should stand on its own merit.

    Actually, if you re-read my article, what I went on and on about was that I thought *I* personally looked stupid playing a computer, and that computers can look ridiculous. My suggestion was that the iPad is ready to be judged, even if it's new, just as harshly as the laptop, particularly when it's in front of a backdrop of Moog's hardware designs. 

    If I were "dismissing" the thing, I wouldn't be encouraging debate and discussion, and I wouldn't be praising Moog's app. I welcome exactly the kind of discussion Marc offers.

  • autoy

    Peter, an iPad doesn't feel like a laptop to a musician, not even close. I get the same feel when reading or surfing the web with it, it's totally different. How it looks on stage? I could care less. I'm having fun though.

  • Peter Kirn

    Just one more time — it's not how it looks onstage — it's the look as an indication of how it feels, or how you're actually interacting with it. That was the issue I wanted to raise. Otherwise, I'd comment on what people were wearing or how they did their hair. When it comes to the device, it's the interaction that interests me (as a player, not just as an observer), and that's what Marc to me is talking about directly in his response.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/afrodjmac/ AfroDjMac

    One of the coolest things about this site is that it is a discussion.  Nothing is ever dismissed or out right shunned. The simple fact that this response is posted is proof of that.   I think it is important to raise questions and doubts about our means of expression musically.  The tagline "first professional synth for the iPad" (or something like that) is very suggestive and raises many questions on many levels.  It's nice to have a place where those questions can be explored.  I think Peter was very eloquent in his questioning as was Marc in his retort.   

  • http://noisepages.com/members/griotspeak/ griotspeak

    Nuance is not actually a useful tool. Did you know that? That is why I say both iPads and Midi controllers are horrible. Forever. Until the end of time.

    /Hyperbole

  • stellan0r

    when you think about how it looks to play an iPad on stage – just think about that if you play a guitar on stage, it looks like you are masturbating sideways. no offense intended, but just because we are used to it, and not to new, modern devices ;-)

    Btw, I love the sound of the Animoog and especially the keys. Now I even more want a Buchla, as I remember the keys from there (except for the cool glow :)

  • http://reflexaudio.com James Grahame

    The iPad has the tactile feedback of a bathroom mirror; it's a far cry from anything Dr Bob ever designed. It's wonderfully portable for performance, but you're forced to keep your eyes locked on the screen.

  • autoy

    If you have to raise a point about the legitimacy of iPad apps and the interaction with them this is truly an example that proves that they have their place. Animoog doesn't make much sense connected to a MIDI keyboard, it's so much more expressive on a touchscreen. The on-screen keyboard is just a delight, like it or not it's an instrument in its own right.

  • r

    "based on a design by Bob Moog himself… the MTS keyboard"

    "it’s a far cry from anything Dr Bob ever designed"

    huh? I'm sure it isn't a perfect replica of the MTS, but it sounds like just because something goes against your argument you just state it to be false.

  • Yoknot

    I thought the whole teaser vid was quite 'square' about how it was set up, what the character said and the backdrop with the classic moog hardware.

    it was a bit like a corny commercial for mobile phones for the elderly who always said they'd never buy a mobile phone because blabla but now with this new mobile phone, oh my god and wowzers this is crazy: now even I (!!) the anti-mobile-phone-person wants one.

    the only thing that wasn't dumb about the teaser was the actual sound of the app, it sounded great.

    with the whole looking dumb on stage discussion… the ipad doesn't do much, or nothing at all, for fixing that. it does a whole lot for actual playing of the hardware compared to a pc, that's where the ipad wins.

    about the animoog, it's hardly revolutionary on the gui front. it has too many tabs and scrolling to get to your parameters. interface looks very good. only one actual innovation I'd say with the novel x-y pad thingies. but even that isn't earth-shattering. besides that it has does the same as most of the ios synth competitors when it comes the interface.

    it sounds probably the fattest of them all, but it's not as refined as some of the others, soundwise. as far as being innovative and expressive it's defenitely not the number one in that category. but it does it's job well.

    it's a good app, but I wasn't startled. lolz

  • r

    BTW, I should say, I'm not a huge fan of the ipad. It has both things that are strengths and things that it's not good for.

    In this case, I feel like this is an app that works admirably within the constraints, it has a unique sound and is very-fairly priced. By most accounts, as a performance interface, the app brings new ideas to the table and works well, and yet prompts critique and scorn.

  • http://i5music.net Jim Aikin

    The first synth I ever played that abandoned the one-knob/one-function paradigm was (if memory serves) the OB-Xa. I wish the iPad's surface were larger, but paging through layers of controls is not going to go away. Someday we may have multi-touch surfaces that provide tactile feedback by way of raised areas. That will be a big step forward. I'm also wondering whether the iPad seems (or is) too flimsy onstage. Can it be kept in a stable position, or does it scoot unless you hold it with your other hand? This is not a trivial issue. I have no opinion about the Animoog, but I love software synthesizers. Playing one with a hardware USB controller is absolutely no different from playing, say, a Nord Lead. It's all DSP connected to hardware controllers.

  • Yoknot

    "huh? I’m sure it isn’t a perfect replica of the MTS"

    yes that's clear, bob moog sure didn't design this to be on an ipad, which is a big part of the discussion here, the hardware the app is on.

    also bob moog isn't jesus (I think).

    so even if product is designed by bob moog, people are still allowed to have their opininions about it right.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/digitallofi/ digitallofi

    I think I get what Peter was saying; I more or less agree. As much as the iPad may have it over a conventional mouse/keyboard for 'playing' software, or over a bog-standard MIDI controller as Mr. Doty asserts above, it does not convey performance in the way that a guitar, piano or other traditional instrument does. Is watching someone drag there fingers around a tablet all that much of an improvement to someone navigating a mouse and MIDI knobs? I don't think so, but, you know, to each their own.

    Don't get me wrong, I dig my iPad and in conjunction with that cheap but well spec'd Alesis dock it is a great tool for the studio/stage. (The CCK and a USB cord is too flimsy for my taste.) There a bunch of great 'fun' apps that can be used and, more importantly, a handful of actual forward thinking 'instruments'/synths that would well augment any geek's setup.

    To that later point, screw the 'well, it was just the marketing dept so it doesn't matter' excuse for Moog's boast of 'First Professional Synth Designed for the iPad.' All due respect to Moog, but that kind of hubris deserves to be smacked down hard. If they were classy they'd issue a retraction and apology to the developers who have been breaking ground on iOS synths for the past several years. 

  • http://www.valhalladsp.com Sean Costello

    Peter, I think you are on the right track here. Whether people agree with your opinion or not, it is YOUR site and YOUR opinion. Your Animoog article was far more interesting than simply passing on a press release without comment or critical analysis. Especially when the press release is so richly deserving of comment and critical analysis.

  • Peter Kirn

    I just want to flag something else — there's look, and there's *feel*. What you see in the video is the physical motions a person uses to play, and the fact that they don't make sense when you can't see the display. Let's assume you never have an audience again. That detail is relevant to the experience of playing the instrument.

    That's what James put better than I did: the iPad is the bathroom mirror.

    That's not to take away from what Moog and other developers have done to work within those restrictions and make their software playable as an instrument. (You could, quite literally, make your bathroom mirror into an instrument, too.) But I think it's okay to point out those restrictions.

    So that's the "ridiculousness" I was pointing to – what I feel when I'm alone trying to make my laptop or my tablet into an instrument. I'm not fundamentally opposed to trying to work through those restrictions, or else I would have stopped talking about this software.

  • Peter Kirn

    And yeah, I voice my opinion so I get to hear others. Otherwise, I'd safely keep it to myself. I'm glad to be challenged on it.

  • autoy

    OK, so now the problem is about "restrictions". This very same sentiment can also be applied to Theremins, Continuums and other experimental input methods. They sure may look bizarre to the untrained eye… but boy, have I seen jaw-dropping performances on Theremins.

    Restrictions are choices too and they are there so you focus better on fewer things. This is the tradeoff where the iPad wins.

  • sduck

    I think this has been a really interesting thread. The Animoog is undoubtedly fun to play, and sounds great. I snatched it up when it came out last night and spent several hours messing with it, something I've never done with any other ipad synth. 

    I'm someone who has made a gazillion dollars and a great career playing one of the dorkiest looking instruments ever. So to me, arguments about whether playing an ipad is cool or not just seem silly – it's the results that count. 

  • http://wiretotheear.com Oliver Chesler

    Everybody is partially correct here… to say the Animoog is the 1st real synth for the iPad IS silly because well just look and listen to SynthX for example. And while I love my iPad and use it in the studio and it is amazing I think it's still too small for stage. I think people fear Moog straying from it's pure but I think they have to get into programming for touch… as I mentioned on my own site I want them to hitch an iPad to some real analog stuff somehow. Anyway… late random thoughts and yeah it's good to see some heated words :)

  • r

    @autoy yeah. Lack of tactile feedback… how's a theremin for tactile feedback? It's got _less_ tactile feedback than a "bathroom mirror". The thing is, if you have a foregone conclusion about what you like or don't like, you can come up with all sorts of conceptual mumbo jumbo to back it up.

  • r

    also re- "What you see in the video is the physical motions a person uses to play, and the fact that they don’t make sense when you can’t see the display" – this is mostly true of a guy standing behind the keyboard as well.

    Also, it's not true that the audience can't see anything, there've been a couple ipad vids where the performers gestures are at least as apparent as a a keyboard player's would be (again, I say this not being a huge fan of ipad performances in general, but just to point out that these arguments don't make sense to me).

    If the visual correspondence is really an issue, you can do something creative to incorporate amplified gestures /correspondences more apparent – projected video /processed video, whatever… problems like these are what creativity in live performances are all about, right?

  • James Grahame

    @r:  You have physical feedback while playing a theremin, because you have awareness of where your arms and hands are in space. It's essentially the same physical skill that allows you to play a cello — you know physically where the notes are. I doubt I'll ever develop such skill with a flat sheet of glass.

  • http://games.sonicviz.com/chordskilz PaulCohen aka Komuso

    Maybe they should have let nnoize Papp demo it http://youtu.be/rb09Lcp-amI

  • FCM

    It's so interesting to read this discourse surrounding the visual element of performing.

    I keep reading, "I don't really care how I look on stage" and then constant remarks about how people look on stage. I don't just mean on this site, but everywhere regarding electronic music performance. In other words, people DO care.

    The interesting part is that the concerns surrounding the visual element of performing are essentially due to

    1. the history of acoustic performances

    2. the association of sounds with physicality

    As for number 1, it's not fair to take a relatively new artform and try to put it in the same box as an ancient one. I mean, a violin recital is basically representing 500 years of music, instrument design, and performance practices. And we see a lot of than in the winces and raised eye brows and swaying torsos.

    Electronic music performances are about 60 years old or so (certainly less than 100 years). It's natural that their morphology would not reflect a common physical parlance.

    As for number 2, well, this is at the heart of the matter. See, for thousands of years, a visual identification of something would tell you about it's size, distance, moving speed, etc. But only the SOUND would tell you what it was really made of. That blur of brown fur in the brush – was it a bear or a cow? The sound will tell you whether you are about to eat dinner or be eaten for dinner.

    Birds are small, they make high sounds. Large animals are large, and they make low, growling sounds. Frequency corresponds to lung capacity.

    Before the 20th Century, Romantic symphonies, like Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand took a huge number of people to make a huge sound.

    As soon as the amplifier enters the musical equation, we have departed from this 'natural' world. A child can create as much sound as a Thousand trained musicians. Add in all the other processing and that's where we are today.

    The issue of "how we look onstage" is not just an issue of how we look (even though we…. don't actually care how we look). It's an issue at the very heart of what electronic music is – which is separated from the constrains of the physical world. There is something continually unnatural about this, which is why we have all the anxiety about authenticity (such as we see in Nicholas Jaar's continual wince-inducing glossing comments about 'honesty').

    I don't think the issue is a simple as developing interfaces, though certainly we need better interfaces. I think it's part and parcel with the journey that we've agreed to take with electronic music, that the sounds we are making are MEDIATED through electrons, and those electrons are subject to non-acoustic processes, and those processes will cause a cognitive dissonance against the acoustic realization of those electronics (a swiping finger and the sound it creates on the instrument of choice).

    As long as our music is MEDIATED in electricity, it will be subject to a certain degree of schizophonia (coined by Murray Schafer) which we must then deal with.

    As a young musician, I got fucked over by Akai, when I was waiting for a PC version of their sample editor for the S2000. I made a very conscious choice never to lock my music making into the constraints of some corporate assholes OR technology and it was a surprisingly cogent choice for a 16-year old.

    Of course, acoustic instrument makers and dealers can be just as shiesty as corporate instrument makers.

    So what can we do? Musicians live in a world of vampires of the music business. Just dance on their graves and don't get pulled down to far.

  • FCM

    And Peter, I'm definitely annoyed to hell by the fetishizing of apple products, and the 'closed-system' aspect to their design.

    In fact, I want to take every brazen apple logo I see on stage and spray paint it black while yelling about brand marketing and sponsorships until they finally get a clue…

    But I think if you carry a defacto brand-based disapproval for their products, it runs the risk of being just as biased (or perceived as such) as the brand-based worshippers.

  • http://twitter.com/hanerlend hanerlend

    Wow! Why all the hate?

    Peter did make some valid points, but it seems people take a tiny fraction of what he said and blows it way out of proportion.

    My own opinion: a single person alone on stage playing a classical piano piece on his ipad would definitely not connect with the audience. As Peter says, the artist could just as well be checking his email while playing an mp3-file. (maybe that's actually what he did?)

    Hanging an iPad on your mike stand and using it in addition to another instrument, maybe that's better? Just how much can you disconnect from the audience before they'd rather just put on a CD?

  • Peter Kirn

    @FCM: This is a discussion of multi-touch display interfaces, generally, not Apple. I raised exactly the same criticisms I've leveled against multi-touch display interfaces since before Apple made them. (You find these things out when you use the interface, pretty quickly – both the positives and negatives.) The fact that people will warp them otherwise is an illustration that people tend to view all kinds of debates as polarized around the Apple brand. That's fine; that's their affair. My job is making sure I'm confident I don't do that in my writing, and I am.

  • Leslie

    Guess what guys? Nobody cares…

    Animoog has just made a history and became 1st music app ever to go number 1 worldwide in just one day…
    http://appshopper.com/bestsellers/paid/?device=ip

  • Cappy anderson

    May be some of the commenters here might want to join the protesters on wall st to air their greviances.  The only reason I have an iPad is for musical apps.  Nice graphics- otherwise an expensive pain in the ass.

    This new moog app is the bomb!  any new way I can make music is just fine with me!  Even when ir is on the crappt over priced iPad which happens to be where the musical action is.  Stop the whining!

  • Juno

    The moment I saw all the old Moog equipment sitting idly behind the guy diddling his bathroom mirror I had to laugh at the lack of subtlety. And then when I read it was the "first professional" etc. I laughed even harder. But the best laugh was paying 1 dollar, which is fair in comparison to KORG and Yamaha's excellent iPad software that didn't need all this complete bombast.

  • http://braduro.com James

    What I got from the video was that, if you were there, you would be hearing the results in first-person and you would be impressed.  If the circuit emulation on the filtatron is any indication, this shouldn't be too hard to believe. I didn't think Doty needs to feel ridiculous, certainly not any more than Deadmau5 and his boys are for eating a fried cheese-doodle sandwich.

    As for shitty controllers, well I'd still rather watch someone perform on a shitty controller than say mucking about with their iphone. But the ipad is a different story. There are some temperaments that simply can not be accommodated on a keyboard. And enough already with the grids. 

  • http://www.metal-head.org Lyrics TV

    It's all about the music and the music makers and their tools :) Don't get angry ! Music is for everyone. Cheers !

  • b3panda

    I think that the perceived interaction with a physical musical instrument has a lot to do with the amount of kinetic energy used, and the coordination required to play it. A guitarist or drummer can be just as boring to watch if they aren't doing much other than strumming a few chords or playing quarter notes on a hi hat. What I like to see is energy and skill. The iPad doesn't really require much energy to play, and I haven't seen any uses that would seem to suggest that any especially high level of mastery is attainable.

    With the ipad (as opposed to a laptop) there is at least the potential for software that allows for some (new?) kind of musical technique. I have never seen someone "play" a laptop in the manner that one would play a piano.

    Perhaps in the future we will see touch surfaces that can respond to the subtleties of our movements (not just where we touch them). Perhaps also someone will come up with a way of playing a tablet that blows away the traditional keyboard. Keyboard instruments themselves took many centuries to develop into what we have today. There really isn't a whole lot in the way of dynamics on a harpsichord for instance. It took until the 18th century to figure out how to control dynamics by how hard you played! 

  • workingit

    Animoog is one of the best synth's to come out this year (with the exception of sunriser). Mark should be thanked, and moog should be thanked for doing what they do. More awesome apps are needed from places like moog and korg and truthfully they don't make enuff. iv been programing synth's for 17 years

    and if so noob in williamsburg thinks this sucks because they just bought there first sh-101 and decided that they like a more organic synthesis. Oh i just puked a bit in my mouth. Did you ever see that south park with the smug cloud. fart in a glass much?

    p.s. the app is $1 and that's the right way to do it!

  • workingit

    Wish i could be like Lyrics TV one this one.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    First of all, I think this whole touch/tablet business is quite exciting though maybe a bit overhyped/overrated (but I'm just saying maybe, we'll see in a couple of years if it was or not). 

    I think the laptop never has been the right tool for live music, we all use it because that's what we can have, and because we can do a lot with it (without the need of an orchestra). We'll see if tablets are a better tool, but for now I'd say they offer some interesting possibilities, that we can explore and experiment with.

    Moog releasing this softsynth made me somehow want to buy an iPad, or at least I'd really love to play around with it, since I don't know if the price would be worth the benefit.

    Though I would probably have some issues in using it on stage, for a couple of reasons.

    1) The problem is a tool is just a tool until people start to "attach" some connotations to it. Let's face it, Apple, the iPad has been the hype of the last years, and you will always somehow look like a hipster if you use one on stage. Probably that's now why you use it, but will people know? Everything you use on stage is a message if you want it or not.

    2) I like the idea of a touchpad as a controller (since it's a freely designable space) but tactile feedback is still kind of important. If I had to choose I'd probably stick to a physical device.

    3) It's not that easy to show to the public what you are doing on the screen. You have to turn it towards the audience and probably look like a poser doing it. Of course you could output the video of the screen to a projector, and use the interface as an input and as a visual representation of the music and the gestures, which might work fine with certain applications.

    4) there's this this about buying a hardware instrument, devoting it many hours of your life, trying to squeeze the last sound-drop out of it, playing it until you know every inch of it's sonic capabilities, knowing that an instrument like that will last you for many years, if you want it to. This is something I have a hard time finding in software, be it on a traditional computer or a tablet. It's all a matter of perception I admit it, but it's a fact that software does not help me to focus on the music.

  • stevieraysean

    would anyone else like to see a hardware version?

    or even an animoog keyboard/knobs dock with audio i/o and have the screen dedicated to the XY mayhem.. that'd be awesome to play and look way better on stage…

    just an idea.

  • Gio

    The app sounds amazing and it's a lot of fun to use. All this chatter about tablets and performance aesthetics will soon be buried in history as the non sensical reaction of the times. Thanks to Moog for making this and raising the bar.  Keep up the good work. 

  • Human Plague

    I remember a time when 8 megs of RAM cost over $2000 and lugging two 386 computers on stage and connecting them to a mixer was a new idea.

    Picture me lying in bed with a 40 pound CRT and loud over clocked array of CPU fans drowning out my voice, my wife is breast feeding our daughter while reading a dirty newspaper, her hands smudged with ink… Feel the creative potential just ooze from this visual scenario!

    There's a fine line between performance and showmanship. Contemporary musicians make great music, the tools are awesome, but we do the theatre now.

    No one is willing to admit it. 

  • Tomislav rupic

    I think its impressive, but what I would really like is AU version of this synth and  app as a remote… That would be awesome… Well midi out would be great too for now…

  • http://www.youtube.com/automaticgainsay Marc Doty

    I would like to add one thing to the "bathroom mirror" conversation:

    The reason people using laptops while they perform live look like they're checking their e-mail is because their actions are not necessarily directly indicative of what is happening in the music.  So often, while these musicians may be making various changes, etc… they are not "playing" in a traditional PHYSICAL sense.  So, the audience does not see a direct performer/music connection like they do with an instrumentalist.  Whether that is fine or bad or whatever is another conversation.  My point is that when you see me doofily jabbing at the iPad, you're seeing me PLAY the iPad.  The very same way as if I was standing over a hardware keyboard doofily jabbing at the keys.  It is a physical performance where the audience can plainly see the realtime physical interaction between musician and instrument, bathroom mirror or not.  

    As for bathroom mirror:  Like I've said, I would have thought the same thing.  But I'll bet all of the people decrying the Animoog for this particular reason haven't played one yet.  My haughty dismissal regarding lack of tactile feedback disappeared within a few minutes as my fingers learned to do new expressive things which had benefits I've never experienced with keys or strings.  

  • Billy BoHansen

    It cracks me up how midi controllers are somehow evil to this dude. Marc Doty needs to sit down with Zebra and a decent midi controller with an x/y axis. He might wet his britches once again.

  • xtraman

    i think some people and criticizing him because if you watch his videos he is a hardcore gear head.  not just any type gear head but a hardcore analog gear head.

     

    its actually not that bad of an app. it sounds cool. i'm not really sure how much i'm going to use it. but does sound pretty comparable to a vst.

  • Jamsire Ernoir

    So how about them Yankees?

  • James Grahame

    @marc I bought a copy of Animoog and love the expressive controller. It's a fantastic user interface, even though the iPad itself still reminds me of a bathroom mirror. ;)

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, the bathroom mirror comment was that the iPad *feels* like a bathroom mirror. So again, these questions stand even if no one is watching you play.

    As for crappy MIDI keyboards, I'm sorry, but I'm on Marc's side on that one — "decent," yes. I don't think it was an anti-keyboard comment so much as an anti-crap-keyboard comment. But I don't want to put words in Marc's mouth.

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, and what James said. I'd still like to see the hardware version that it sounds like Moog were working on. ;)

    It's not anti-Apple. I mean, come on — that'd mean I thought that specifically Apple were responsible with creating a general-purpose tablet that was also specifically useful for synthesizers for, like, me personally. Now, that doesn't mean I can't say their general-purpose product doesn't fix specific needs. For the same reason, I can say a Volkswagen Golf shouldn't be launched into low Earth orbit. That criticism would be valid whether or not VW made that claim, if someone then put it next to a Soyuz capsule.

  • Radiophobic

    As far as I am concerned, I find it hard to consider the ipad a legitimate instrument. Simply because you can't play it without looking at it screen. With everything else, even the computer, you can use the provided tactile input for even basic actions that don't require your attention be focused on it.

    I am not saying that it doesn't have serious music applications. But until there is some way to be able to use it musically (third party contraptions notwithstanding) without having to look directly at the screen, it doesn't quite have the same kind of magic as something you get to know, and learn the way it feels, and the way that can affect the sound. 

    Regarding the moog application; so far its been the best sounding standalone synthesizer I have found on the ipad. Its a steal at $0.99. I would go so far as to suggest that people who don't have ipads start an itunes account to buy it, just in case they end up owning one someday.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    I've just seen someone play the Animoog with an Eigenharp Pico controller… nice thing, though at that point you might wonder, why should I be using an iPad if I'm just going to attach a controller to it, and I could do the same thing on a traditional computer (which can run also other things along with that and gives me more options in terms of audio/midi I/O)?

    If you imagine somone on stage play the same instrument on the Pico and then directly on the iPad, what would look more interesing?

    I guess there's also this thing that having a hardware device, with tactile feedback and a small size factor gives you more freedom of movement and doesn't need eye-control, so you can look at the audience.

  • Billy BoHansen

    I think the Animoog software is actually amazing. Such a great sound and I do like the interface a whole ton!

    @Hanzo"why should I be using an iPad if I’m just going to attach a controller to it,"

    Why not? It is just another computer. Why not have a controller AND use the touch aspect of it? Not to mention portability.

    Sometimes, I think people spend more time whining about how x, y or z does not do a, b, or c more than they actually play music. (Not that I want to cut off discussion) I guarantee if you worked with the Animoog app for long enough that you could develop some interesting playing techniques that are not bound by 'how you are supposed to play it'.. just like you can with any instrument.

    Plus. dude. its .99 usd.

  • r

    @james "You have physical feedback while playing a theremin, because you have awareness of where your arms and hands are in space."

    So when you touch glass, you suddenly lose awareness of where your arms and hands are in space? Like a lot of these points it all just smells like a foregone conclusion looking for arguments.

  • Peter Kirn

    @r: Well, I view the Theremin issue as a bit of a red herring, but I would say at the very least the awareness of the iPad requires one in regards to the position of the object, rather than your body alone. That position then lacks physical feedback.

    There's a reason, by the same token, that so many instruments are fretted and keyboards have keys. It's possible to play without them, but it's easier to play with them.

    All of this can be an interesting discussion; this doesn't have to be a black-or-white idealogical question. But failing to raise these points to me makes the examination of the design more shallow. 

  • sparkle

    The ipad is not responsible for the previous 50 years of electronic music.

    Much of the criticism of the ipad as a performance instrument is really collateral damage of the wider question of how much of any electronic music performance is physically played in real time ,even from before midi where analogue sequencers were triggering notes , but multiplied by decades of triggering of midi sequences and loops.

    There is some interaction and need of timing if triggering a loop from a keyboard or mpc drum pad, but you arent playing every note the audience hear.

    The ipad multitouch surface can be a realtime expressive performance instrument under the right fingers, and more so than many recognised instruments.

    Thumb pianos are hardly the most riveting of instruments to watch played,dont have much sonic variety or expressiveness. how about we midi one up to an animoog and play it live.thats still an instrument, presumabl ?

    .so how about we just play the ipad, because its more touch sensitive,allows sustain and modulation.not an instrument? It wont be long before virtuoso keyboard players, accordianists , percussionists et al will be dispelling any doubt that its a performance instrument.

  • http://www.shaneking.com shane king

    Peter,

    Thanks for creating such an open discussion that has remained relatively civil, at least for an internet discussion. I do agree with one of the main thrusts of your editorial, that email checking performances just aren't compelling. The Animoog is a great sounding synth and I think that combined with another controller will be a great tool for me and I expect to be hearing a lot of it very soon at The Warper Party. 

    (Please indulge my shameless plugging here but it is completely relevant to the discussion)

    I do hope you can make it out to the next 'Music of the Electron' show at The Parkside Lounge on Nov 16th. This is my attempt to showcase performance based electronic music. I've had Cosmo D, Elijah B Torn and other great artists participate in the series and it is my antidote to 'email checking' performances. You will love what Steve Honoshowsky (No Use For Humans) does with drum triggers and synths, it is a great performance. 

  • http://konkreetlabs.com Gwydion

    Two things:

     

    1. Konkreet Performer ;-)

    2. At Berghain last night, The Black Dog and Surgeon were the epitome of staring at laptop, checking emails, performances. The bar was empty, the dancefloor was packed – think everyone was having too good a time to notice… :-)