iPhone as Serious Instrument: New Synthable iSyn, Strummable Star Guitar

The iPhone and iPod touch are getting more in the way of playable software instruments that could ease its transformation into a handheld idea-capturing gadget. noise.io lays claim to being the first full-featured soft synth on the platform, with unusual FM synthesis control – and I still like the fact that it isn’t anything like most soft synths on your PC. And of course there have been beat machines like the surprisingly capable Intua BeatMaker drum machine/suite. On mobile platforms, though, the more the merrier – especially given the bargain-basement prices. So I’m pleased to see the likes of noise.io …

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Imogen Heap on Twitter: Real-Time, Real-World Creative Process

Photo: Lee Jordan. Speaking as a sometimes-music-journalist, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that we were all part of a vast conspiracy. Our job can become wrapping big-name artists into a polished, glamorous narrative. There are small nods to humanizing them, of course, but the message can quickly become: this person is special and different from you, this is the person you should want to be or want to consume, and as a result you’ll buy our magazine. I’ve never believed that myself, and I do believe a lot of great music writing is something very different, but there’s always …

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Web Songwriting with ChordStudio.com: Like Online GarageBand, But With Chords

Apple’s GarageBand is a powerful tool for recording MIDI and audio and arranging loops. It can be puzzling to songwriters, though, because it doesn’t really understand chord changes. Sure, you can transpose MIDI loops or (more problematically) audio, but that process is a bit clunky and rarely sounds right. Many beginner-level GarageBand songs (especially by students) simply stay in one big, long I chord for an entire piece, which, by astounding coincidence, is what I sound like playing guitar. (Come on, I went to the trouble of getting my fingers on these frets — now you want me to move …

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Composer’s Studio Goes Digital: Tech Toys and Inspiration

Now that the rest of our studio has gone digital, the approach to producing score for acoustic instruments has changed, too. Here’s a look at some of my favorite toys and tools for keeping music flowing. You’d have to be a true Luddite to argue that word processors are bad for writing. Blogs, perhaps, sometimes inspire poor writing (ahem), but it’s more difficult to blame technology. The original argument that word processors would end the process of drafting and revision is absurd to anyone who’s spent long hours slaving over text in Microsoft Word. Our attitudes have changed as we’ve …

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