Viable Musical Instruments on the iPhone or iPod Touch

bebotBy now most of us have experienced several, or even dozens of instrument apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch. From acoustic pianos, to analog modeling synthesizers, to step sequencers, there’s enough out there to create a veritable, electronic, orchestra of multi-touch maestros.

However, which, if any, of these apps are viable as instruments for production or performing? I’d argue that just about anything is. In my view it’s how the artist uses an object or device that makes it into an instrument. So perhaps a better question is, which apps might lend themselves to being productive tools for creative artists?

One of my favorites so far is Bebot. It took less than an hour of experimenting with Bebot to convince me that it could be used effectively for performances and recording. Here’s a few phrases of playing with Bebot.

Bebot Music

Cupped Hand Controlled MBP Feedback

flashlightThis feedback produced by my new MacBook Pro is a little less harsh. I attempted to control the way it was feeding back by moving a cupped hand up and down just above the built-in mic hidden under the left hand speaker grill. The closer you get to the cupping the mic the louder the feedback is. Actually I wasn’t sure where the mic was when I started this experiment and used my cupped hand to locate it. By the way, cupping the mic is generally a bad idea. I hope it doesn’t void my warrantee.

Cupped Hand Controlled Feedback

Horrible MacBook Pro Built-in Mic Feedback

Grouchy PandaThe following sound contains piercing high frequencies. I don’t suggest playing it back at at anything higher than a very low volume.

This sound was produced accidentally after starting up Live and opening a recent document on my new MacBook Pro. A couple of tracks were record enabled and the input settings reverted to the default because Live 8 did not know about my external sound card yet. Luckily my MacBook Pro’s audio out was not plugged into my mixer, so the sound was only amplified through the internal speakers.

Naturally, my first inclination was to capture the feedback. My second was to try and control it by cupping the mic hidden under the left hand speaker grill. I had some success doing this. For now here’s the original feedback.

Playback With Caution!

All of Precambrian Resonance Available for Preview

HamamatsuUnearthed Music has made all of Precambrian Resonance available as full-length 128kbps MP3 previews on Unearthed Music. The entire album is also streaming on Here’s track eight, Hamamatsu No. G210. You might remember a rough mix of it from an earlier entry, which revealed how the title came about, and mentioned a release date of March 24, 2009. So, technically I’m four months late on this project. Although negotiating postponement was not an issue, since I’m a label partner. In any case, it’s done and I’m happy with the results.

Hamamatsu No. G210

Synth Pad Automation

nanoRecently I have been endowed with a fortunate amount of new gear. After upgrading to Ableton Suite 8 it became apparent that my first-gen MacBook Pro was not going to pull the plough. So I have upgraded to the latest model. I have yet to put 8 through its paces to see how well it performs on the new machine, but I have found some time to get it installed and play around a bit.

This audio experiment is a result of that. It consists of a patch I created using the MDA JX-10 emulator. I did little to process it other than some delay, but I used a Korg nanoKONTROL to control the filter and volume of the device. Before I attached the controller I was playing with the filter using the track pad on the Mac. When I wasn’t getting the control I wanted I hooked up the nanoKONTROL and felt a bit more confident manipulating the cutoff and resonance with knobs.

Synth Pad Automation