Design, and investigation in general, thrive on a challenge. So Bastus Trump, working with none other than Monolake co-founder and Ableton imagineer Robert Henke, took on the call to make the blank glass of an iPad behave more as an instrument might. The results, filling that screen with overlapping circles, are impressive, exploiting continuous touch movements to make pitch gestures that are more difficult on a piano-style keyboard. But it’s even nicer to see digital fuse with analog and timbral transformation as the app, Orphion, meets the more traditional Moog Moogerfooger effects.

Bastus writes CDM:

[Orphion’s] interface was developed especially for a touch screen and allows very expressive — and also virtuosic — playing. You can choose between different layouts of tonally-tuned pads, which sound differently depending on the finger position when played, and can be modulated by further movements. The sound and the means of interaction is a mixture of string and percussion instruments and reaches from soft to plucked to a hard slap.

The concept of the Orphion results from my master thesis at UdK Berlin supervised by Robert Henke (aka monolake). The topic was to develop an interface for multi-touch screens that allows a maximum of expression.

So, you can see a quick demo of how it’s played. But just how would this fit into your studio? For the answer to that question, we turn to our friend Chris Stack and his excellent Experimental Synth series.

In this episode:

Playing the Orphion iPad app through a Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator and MF-104Z Analog Delay. Moogerfooger parameters are controlled with the Moog Voyager Touch Surface CV outputs.

Thanks for the great work, Bastus. We’ll be watching.

iPad only; download the app or provide your own review on our exclusive Apps section:

[Oh, yeah. About that. Announcement coming shortly. Consider yourself with the scoop by virtue of having read to the end of this article.]

  • EATYone

    Really nice interface. could we expect for midi out in a near future?

    • Bastus Trump

      Yes, Midi-Out will be the next Step

  • Axel

    Looks great ! Are you using touch area size to implement the soft tap / hard tap thing ?

  • BirdsUseStars

    I don't know. I'm not sure about where the ipad fits for me these days. I keep buying cool little synths like this, use them a lot for a kind of honeymoon period, and then move on to something different. 

  • freesoul

    I am waiting for the midi out as well. 

  • Horaflora

    That's pretty nice, but if ylike that, maybe you should check out TC-11 for iPad – really unsure why that hasn't already shown up here yet…. 

  • drpauligari

    Horaflora beat me to the punch regarding TC-11, perhaps the best iOS app to date to take "on the call to make the blank glass of an iPad behave more as an instrument might." Forgive me for also praising that app here, as Orphion looks like a very clean and useful app.

  • Leslie

    Very nice interface indeed, but is that "Koto"type sound the only preset available?
    Have to agree with Horaflora, TC-11 offers very inovative interface and combines that with powerfully synth engine as well.

  • breadteam

    Come on – is all that finger jiggling really necessary? Is the ipad really responding to this vibrato technique? If not, then quit it – it makes the performance look really bad and forced.

    Also, I would like to repeat Axel's question above:
    "Are you using touch area size to implement the soft tap / hard tap thing ?"

    • Axel

      It really responds quite well to these small variations of touch area size, which the app is definitely accessing.

  • EATYone

    Yes touch aera size control soft/hard taping, and it's really intuitiv, playing with it for some hours now and like it. now i need midi! The only one sound is not enough :)

  • asger

    whats that announcement getting teased at the end of the article..? 

  • BirdsUseStars

    Despite my earlier apprehensions, I went ahead and bought it. Very cool app. I love modulating the sound with circular finger motions and it's the only app I've used so far that works this well with velocity sensing. I'm very hopeful for the midi control feature to arrive soon. I keep thinking what a good controller this will be for aalto. 

  • rondema

    The sounds do not really illustrate the potential playability of the app very well. A more sustained sound would better suit the expressive controls, indeed a selection of sounds and/or ability to create user sounds (think Thumbjam with a different front end..)

    • Guest

      I agree… 2012 and the physical modeling still means karplus strong – esque  plucks =/

  • J

    I agree with breadteam on all the “finger jiggling”. Is it necessary? Seems like a typical Repetitive Strain Injury in the making to me.┬áLove the sound of this app though!

  • Brian stevens

    @PeterI'v searched your archive and found no information about TC-11 which seems like an amazing app (ported from PD).Will you review it sometimes soon ?

  • mpdehaan

    Neat idea — I like the grid and other layout options, would love a pluggable synth engine and better effects though.

    Another thing is that since the iPad is not really pressure sensitive (just area), you don't get much variation between the types of hits, and it's hard to be expressive with the smaller circles.

    The comment about thumbjam is dead on, these two should get together.

  • Chris

    I'm really enjoying Orphion. Apps like this and GeoSynth are starting to make me realize that UI is more important that timbral options.

  • danomatika

    OSC out would be awesome as well …

  • Rui Gato

    just spent 30 minutes playing the Five with my eyes closed. Never thought I would do that with a touchscreen, brilliant design!

  • rob

    excellent work!

  • Bastus

    There an update for Orphion: Now it finally supports MIDI Out: Watch it here:

  • ayu febriana

    Orphion make the ipad is more pleasant to hear even more so when it is cara mengobati keputihan secara herbal