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Patterning on iPad is a circular, sample-savvy drum machine

We’re in a the golden age of the drum machine, whether it’s dedicated hardware or a computer or a mobile gadget. Of course, that means it’s getting tougher to stand out. Patterning is one of the most promising software entries yet. I’m already a huge fan of Elastic Drums for its rich approach to timbre – this could be my other fast favorite. Patterning side-steps the two problems with most drum machines – boring, regular patterns, and boring, predictable sounds. Patterning’s user interface is centered around a circle, as cycles of time repeat in futuristic rotating colored geometries. We’ve seen …

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DbN Keeps 2014 Weird: Experimental Music, Made from Found Tapes

DbN – The Found Tapes Project 2014 from DA BOOK on Vimeo. If Auld Lang Syne and predictable “best of” lists are getting you down, here’s likely the weirdest-sounding New Years’ greeting you’ll get, to kick off 2014. Düsseldorf by Night (DbN) improvises strange, creepy-beautiful soundscapes from cassettes. It turns the flea market into a sample library. It looks like the terrific iPad app Samplr gets some heavy usage in this, as well. That’s a good choice – touchable waveforms keep everything happening live, with intuitive gestures, as would jamming on an instrument. Bonus: if you see DbN’s Found Tapes …

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Orphion is an instrument, merging ideas from percussion and strings into something you can play on the iPad. And now you can create your own layouts and tunings. Images courtesy the developer.

Freehand Playable Circles, in Any Tuning, on iPad: New Orphion Editor

Design is the art of compromise. And so, as the touch tablet asks you to sacrifice some things – velocity sensitivity, physical separation, tactile feedback – it gives back the ability to produce freeform interfaces. The iPad’s downside is that it is a piece of undifferentiated glass; its upside is that that glass can transform into anything you like. That makes it a bit puzzling when it is reduced to a set of fake knobs and faders, which has the advantages of neither physical hardware nor the iPad’s open-ended possibilities. When it was first produced, I praised Orphion as an …

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Borderlands Granular Available Now, US$3.99, Visualizing Sonic Exploration

Borderlands Tutorial (iPad version) from Christopher Carlson on Vimeo. What makes the tablet software experience unique on the iPad is the sense of immersive software – touching the screen interface directly, and letting everything else fall away. There’s a cost – you don’t get the flexibility of desktop software or the tangible quality of hardware. But sometimes, that experience becomes something unique. Users have been eagerly waiting since earlier this year for the release of Borderlands Granular because it suggests something really special. It has the feeling of a tool that is at its best in this medium: visual, touchable, …

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The Live Mixer, Reimagined, in a Futuristic Touchscreen Device from Line 6

Photo: Marsha Vdovin, snapped for CDM in the mood lighting of the Line 6 press room at the NAMM show. Few things are as essential to music making as the experience of a live show. So it’s about time someone took some risks to see if there’s a better way to run live sound. Line 6’s new StageScape M20d is important because it does just that – it finally says the mixer as you know it doesn’t have to be sacred, and tries to build a better one. Traditionalists might be skeptical – and with good reason, as we see …

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16-Week-Old Baby Plays Animoog on iPad, Spins Hypnotic, Trippy Solo

Deep thought: if this is what this young person’s baby toy looks like, what will his computer look like? Father Matt Durant writes to share a surprisingly spacey, expressive solo by his 16-week-old baby son: My baby son, Austin, touched an iPad for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I loaded up Moog’s new Animoog app and was blown away with what happened. Mom & I have never seen him so dexterous and thoughtful with any object before. Luckily I had my iPhone within reach so I was able to record his ‘performance’ in video. I’ve sent it …

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Roland R-MIX App Selects Parts of Music Visually, on Mac, PC, and iPad

Here’s a software release I don’t think most observers saw coming: Roland has new software for computers and iPads that lets you edit visually. The underlying VariPhrase technology is familiar from other Roland products, though combined here with something Roland calls V-Remastering. The upshot is this: you begin with a heat map-like visual of a sound’s spectrum, then pull on components of a mix, isolating the volume levels of different parts of a track. Think visual mash-ups and karaoke tracks, as well as clean-up. What can you do once you have those components? Isolate components, adjust their mix, and add …

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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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Yamaha’s iPad Tenori-On Videos Emerge

On the road from futuristic instrumental concept to real-world product, the Yamaha Tenori-On as shipped lacked some of the functionality its creator, gifted media artist Toshio Iwai, originally imagined. Notably, wireless networking, which promised social music-making with other devices, was gone, replaced with a more-limited MIDI connector. Now, in a surprisingly literal translation from the hardware to iPad, it appears the Tenori-On has added that feature – but lost some of its charm. An iOS developer notes to me that pitches don’t sound when you tap the screen, only when they are played in the sequence. That fundamentally changes the …

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Read, Write Music Notation Digitally, on Windows: $100 or Less

Proprietary systems like FreeHand’s awkwardly-named MusicPad Pro Plus (Pro Plus, eh?) have offered digital manuscript paper for some time. But the idea there is you buy dedicated hardware; the MusicPad Pro Plus is US$899. With tablet PCs starting at about the same price, and the convenience of having your mobile computer also be your music notation, it seems like the convergence of the manuscript page and the computer isn’t far off. Enter MusicReader for Windows XP and Vista. It runs just US$69-99; bring your own laptop. Better yet, bring your own tablet PC and you have a form factor that …

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