Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jamming without talent :)

Guitar parts have never been my friend - I can fake some lines on keyboards, noodle around on garageband but my favorite tool for soloing right now is Thumbjam by Sonosaurus.

Thumbjam is an iPad/iPhone app that comes with tons of very high quality samples built in. It lets you easily perform parts, record them as loops and play them all on the iPad or iPhone.

This is the best sampler/jamming tool I have ever used. In addition to making it easy to put together jams on the iPad, you can use ThumbJam as a wireless controller for your desktop DAW.

With Logic 9, for example, via some free middleware (DSMidiWifi), you can play your solos on the iPad and directly record the midi onto any track in Logic 9. This gives me countless guitar and amp variations as well as any other instrument.

It is also somewhat easy to create your own samples to download to the iPad to extend ThumbJams when you are away from your desktop. When running solo on the iPad, however, it is a bit tricky to get your recorded loops to all synchronize but with practice it works pretty well.

I put together a small blues piece with Logic tracks and 2 solo Thumbjam tracks for the guitar and horn section.

Wireless Thumbjamming

This will definitely be part of my future music making tools and is one of my favorite iPad apps to-date.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Playin with the iMS-20 on the iPad

I've had the Korg iMS-20 for months now and finally got around to playing something with it. This app is an extremely accurate rendition of the MS-20 monophonic synth along with the Kaoss pad, Korg Sequencer and a drum machine - which would be a room full of several thousand dollars worth of analog gear!

All this for about $15 - not too bad. All of the patch cables work as expected and the knob twiddling works exactly as on the real machine. There are some good videos on youtube for the machine that work without changes on the iPad version.

Just another example of how inexpensive the iPad versions of software synths have become. For the PC or Mac, the legacy version as a VST or AU plugin would be many times the cost and really isn't as effective without the touchscreen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More Midi Gear

My Edirol PCR-30 is a nice keyboard with full features BUT due to its size, spends more time in the closet than conveniently attached to my DAW. Since I tend to noodle out parts on the keyboard and then edit them in Logic 9 or Garageband, this Akai MPK mini is a much nicer option. I got this about 3 months ago and it spends most of its time conveniently tucked above my iMac keyboard.

The MPK mini offers a very complete 25 key, velocity sensitive keyboard, 8 drum pads, arpeggiator and 8 configurable knobs that I can use when twiddling Low-pass filter cutoffs, Resonance or whatever you want to program the knobs to. The only missing features are the tone wheel and bend control.

I also can use this keyboard with the iPad camera connection kit to feed CoreMidi directly to my iPad when working mobile. 

Highly recommended! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rebirth Song | Drum Techno

Rebirth Song | Drum Techno

Put together a ReBirth piece with only the drums - 808 and 909.
Highly effected with PCM and distortion. So maybe you don't ALWAYS need a 303.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Seriously, everyone needs a (virtual) 303

303 by oldlibmike

Since using ReBirth, I am loving the Roland 303 sounds. I've been experimenting with tons of them on the iPad including ReBirthtechnoBox2 and BassLine.

As an "etude" I have been taking pieces of Fatboy Slim's EveryBody Needs a 303 and trying to emulate some of the sounds with the virtual offerings. My first effort is above - nowhere near the mix of the original but I did get some of the Acid House sounds of the Low-pass cutoff/Resonance tweaking that work so well on the original.

The challenge is in putting together a mix. ReBirth and technoBox2, sort of expect you to mix 303 synths with the 808 or 909 drum machines which is famous in techno but still limiting. To mix in other bass sounds, beats, etc requires a DAW of some sort. I wanted to do everything on the iPad with software I already own so my choices were a bit limited.

This example uses sounds from several music programs that support Audio copy/paste on the iPad to make moving samples around easy. The beats are from Korg iElectribe. The 303 was taken from BassLine in this sample - it does one thing and does it extremely well - just the 303 with full copy/paste support. Neither ReBirth nor technoBox2 support copy/paste so if I wanted their sounds, I would have to export to WAV, upload and then download back to the iPad.

The other bass line (a bit lamer I'm afraid) is from Xenon Groove Synthesizer. This has some nice synth tracks and a very easy way to enter bass patterns. Not the strongest part of the song but it does support copy/paste.

The DAW in this example is NanoStudio. This does allow samples up to 1 minutes to be imported which in this case was sufficient.

I first tried using another favorite of mine - Mixtikl and had it going very well but with several tracks with the same number of loops cycling, the sound drifted off 1/2 beat or so with the pasted WAV files.

In NanoStudio I recorded the simple vocal with the iPad mic and then pasted in the other samples. The low-pass filter Cutoff and Resonance tweaking on the fast 303 bassline were recorded on the NanoStudio against the sample after importing.

So there - more information than anyone needs to know about sound creation on the iPad. I am thinking of going for a more efficient DAW that emphasizes WAV files over MIDI/synth - maybe the next "impulse buy".