As Touch and Laptops Converge, Finally Potential for Music Making? [Prelude]

“Where are my touch laptops?” It’s becoming the “where are my flying cars?” of the laptop music age. And so it is that I’m here in Taipei, Taiwan, having spent today hanging out with Acer as they talk about what they’re doing with touch on their computers (laptops and tablets). The touch laptops are here in force – not a couple of netbooks or tablet PC oddities, but with the full-blown force of the PC industry behind them. The question now is whether we actually want them. 2012 was a little early to ask that question for the music audience; …

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Touch Music Control Choices: TouchOSC Gives Android, iPhone 5 Proper Love

What once was in the hands of a few early adopter Lemur owners and technologists is now available to the masses: most musicians own some kind of touch device, capable of spawning faders and X/Y controls and buttons and layouts for just about anything they can imagine. And the app that is perhaps best known for that, TouchOSC, gets a major update this week. What it means depends on what you own.

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Arpeggionome for iPhone Makes Amazing Patterns in Arrays of Pulsing Circles [App, Music]

Out today, Arpeggionome is the iPhone follow-up to an iPad grid instrument, making lovely, elegant cascades of notes from a screen full of circles. The work of San Francisco-based electrical engineer Alexander Randon, it’s especially nice to see not just the app itself, but the music the developer makes with his own tool. Watch the video, and you’ll get a feel for how he makes his creation musically expressive. Evidently inspired by both the Tenori-On and the community of monome apps, Arpeggionome has a number of features that set it apart from other tools. It’s tough to find iPhone apps …

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FL Studio 11: Play it with Touch and Everything and Everywhere, Live or Editing

FL Studio 11 has arrived, hot on the heels of an impressive FL Studio Mobile release. The folks at Image Line have been intensely busy, but what strikes me is that you can now play FL Studio using almost anything, on almost any device. The Mobile version works on Android and touch Windows devices, not just iOS, when most folks target only Apple. And the upgrade to FL Studio 11 is similarly flexible. There’s a clip-triggering performance mode, which already supports a range of input methods: “mouse, touch screen, typing keyboard or MIDI controller. Supports APC20/40, Launchpad, Lemur, Block, Maschine/Mikro, …

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Android Users Get Some Love: FL Studio Mobile Now on Android, Too (And PC)

FL Studio on iOS is one of the nicer, more full-featured production suites out there. And iOS users now get Universal support (so yo don’t have to buy iPhone and iPad apps separately), iPhone 5 display support, Audiobus input and output, multitrack recording, Dropbox import and export and enhanced zipped-up exports of whole projects, and waveform editing – wow. FL Studio Mobile But a bigger surprise is Android support. There’s not complete feature parity support yet, but that’s coming (and most of the functionality is there.) Generally, Image Line claims you can run on any 2.3 or later device. http://www.image-line.com/documents/android.html …

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Breeding Beats: Pattern Mutation with Elektron Machinedrum + iPad

For all the variety in synths and control methods, patterns and sequencing often tend to be rather same-y. That’s why it’s wonderful to see things like this short video from Jakob Penca. In it, rhythms mutate and vary, all as clever gestures on an iPad manipulate the beat-making noises of an Elektron Machinedrum. The app is still under development, but it’s nice to see this early glimpse. Description: a quick improvisation demo of my upcoming iOS app for the Elektron Machinedrum. This shows how you can mutate a pattern with copy & paste operations directly on an iPad. This app …

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Hands-on with Livid Base Controller, and Streamlined Control of Ableton Live [Musikmesse]

One highlight of Musikmesse for me was getting to catch up with Jay Smith of Livid Instruments. Base, their touch controller (grid plus touch strips), is even more appealing in person than online. And it seems like it could really sit in a niche in controllers, even with lots of grids out there these days. By comparison, Novation’s new Launchpad S, while much cheaper, lacks pressure sensitivity. And Ableton’s Push also leaves plenty of room for Base. Push I still think is a terrific controller, even as it has some growing pains with its initial launch – I’ve had some …

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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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Keyboard, Plus iPad: iMIDIPatchbay Will Let You Set Up Live Keyboard Rigs Easily

Yes, the iPad can be its own synth or music tool. But here’s yet another example in which Apple’s tablet acts instead as a hub for other gear, a touchable window into your live music rig. For keyboardists, or anyone working with MIDI setups, it could wind up being more convenient, more immediate, and more portable than a computer. (Cue mental image of a laptop tumbling off a stage piano. Yeah, that.) iMIDIPatchbay is just about to enter beta, but the feature list looks promising. It solves one problem, but a common problem: a keyboardist wants to set up splits …

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A DJ App for iPad That’s Modular, For Exactly What You Want: d(- -)b from touchAble Creators

d(- -)b brings the colorful, visual, touchable waveforms that are part of the draw of iPad DJing. But to that, it adds another trick: custom, modular layouts, letting you choose up to six decks, for instance. Two decks, or more decks? Horizontal, or vertical waveforms? Which controls? DJ app designers normally have to make such decisions for their users – and users must, more or less, take what they’re given. Not so with the odly-named, just-released d(- -)b iPad DJ app. Using a grid to neatly-align elements, it lets you choose what you want on-screen, and whether two decks or …

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