From Bluetooth MIDI to Easier, Faster Graphics, New Goodies for Creative Apple Development

Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8. We also know a lot …

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A Giant LEGO Construction Makes Music with Maschine, Made by NI’s Devs

LEGOs and rapid, hacked construction have led to the development of hardware sold to musicians; Push and Maschine each saw hacked-together versions as prototypes before the more-polished versions we see today. So, why not use some of those toys and hacks to make something you can actually use, right now? Apparently what happens when you let the Native Instruments development team free to play for a weekend, that’s exactly what happens. LEGO Techno uses computer vision to allow the musician to make sequences with LEGO blocks. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this very idea – seems musicians gazing …

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Hands Off: Apple Wants to Pull Orphion Music App Over Touch APIs

Apple’s devices have earned praise from developers for consistently supporting multiple fingers in predictable ways. But to go further with expression, one developer made use of the size of contact area on the screen. Any time a developer goes beyond “public” or official APIs, there’s a chance Apple will eventually balk. We knew this was a risk to the excellent music app Orphion when we covered it, but hoped, in fact, that if the app were successful, Apple might reconsider. Unfortunately, today we learn from developer Bastus Trump that Apple will remove the app. And that means, at the very …

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Cubasis: Cubase Goes Mobile on the iPad; Steinberg Answers Our Workflow Questions [Gallery]

I’ll take one DAW, to go? Cubasis isn’t the first traditional-style DAW to appear on the iPad. But it could be the most complete offering yet. I’ll be testing it later this month, but I’m already impressed that the software appears to strike some balance between the traditional working methods of a DAW and the need for streamlined, fat-fingered control on an iPad. Most significantly, it also offers connectivity with other iOS apps and hardware, meaning it could be an ideal mobile sequencer for other apps and gear, and, allows you to integrate with desktop software and Steinberg’s own Cubase. …

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Touch iOS Music in a New Way: Hands-on with Cantor for Users, Inside Details for Developers

Don’t fret. An iPad can open up new ways of touching musical ideas. What if you could touch sound more directly, using sophisticated sensing to play between most common notes – even with hundreds of levels of microtonal pitch? Cantor lets you do just that – and it’s here now, proving that Apple will indeed allow the use of a little-known API for sensing finger area. (Hey, Apple: please, please keep this around, as it’s essential to making the iPad more expressive.) It’s an important development, and it’s real and something you can use right now, today. So, we provide …

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Thicket for iOS Thickens; Artists Describe the Growth of an Audiovisual Playground

By the 1990s, the notion that computer software could be a means of delivering interactive digital art more personally was enjoying a Renaissance. This was the age of the Voyager CD-ROM, which catered to new multimedia PCs and Macs with titles from the likes of Laurie Anderson and Morton Subotnick, the decade in which Brian Eno released Generative Music as software and Monolake – before Ableton – included a Max/MSP patch with an album. But the reach of these experiments was doomed to be relatively limited. Now, of course, things are different. First, we saw some widely-available audiovisual toys, coinciding …

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How to Make a Music App for iOS, Free, with libpd: Exclusive Book Excerpt

What will you do with this blank slate? Photo (CC-BY) Yutaka Tsutano. Apple yesterday described their iPad as “this magical pane of glass that can become anything you want it to be.” So – how about making mobile devices into what you want it to be? With the help of author Peter Brinkmann and publisher O’Reilly, we’d like to give you a taste of Peter’s new book, Making Musical Apps: Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS. Imagining that a lot of you are especially curious about iOS, we’ll include the chapter on how to get started with development. It …

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Full-Featured Genome MIDI Sequencer for iPad, and a Chat with its Creator

The tablet – or at least the iPad – is beginning to look like a terrific accessory for lovers of MIDI and hardware. With its compact form factor, it coexists nicely with your MIDI gear and lets you focus on sequencing, perhaps moving to the traditional computer to finish up your track, mixing, and the like. And it’s spawning MIDI sequencer apps that imaginatively explore ideas for how to create sequencing, all with an immediate touchable interface. The latest entry: Genome MIDI Sequencer claims to be the “first true pattern-based MIDI sequencer for iPad.” The word “true” might be debateable, …

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A Glimpse of the Soundplane Controller, Innovative Tactile Multi-Touch, in the Lab; Call to Action

Alder Soundplane prototype with blanks of reclaimed redwood and Doug Fir. Photo by Randy Jones; used by permission. On tablets, on displays, multi-touch control these days is calibrated largely as a software interface – more Starship Enterprise panel than violin. As such, it works well for production tools and exploring compositional ideas. But it falls far short of being an instrument: even on the much-hyped iPad, touch timing and sensitivity is too imprecise, and the absence of tactile feedback and real, kinetic resistance makes you feel like an operator rather than a musician. Several projects in experimental instrument research seek …

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Madrona’s Randy Jones on Aalto Soft Synth, Designing a New Instrument, Small Makers

Patching together unique sounds on the classic Buchla 100 was an impetus for a new software instrument by Randy Jones – just released for Windows. Photo (CC-BY) guiltyx/roll_initiative. Software can easily enough emulate, down to each knob and patch cord, a vintage synthesizer. But can a genuinely new software synth incorporate the ideas about instrument design beloved in a classic synth like the Buchla modular? How do you balance open-ended sound design with the sorts of limitations that give an instrument personality, limitations that inspire? And could all of this be meaningful even for someone first discovering synthesis, who may …

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