Saturday, June 4, 2011
It's been a busy few weeks. Besides a work trip to Denmark, two of my favorite tools upgraded. NanoStudio is now at 1.2 and Mixtikl 3 has come out.
I think NanoStudio is getting a fair amount of coverage so I thought I'd write a bit about my use of Mixtikl. Mixtikl first got my attention in it's ability to create generative music which is basically music that evolves algorithmically. In fact, the authors of Mixtikl previously had a product called Koan that was used by Brian Eno on his Generative Music 1 album.
The product had previously been released on pre-iOS devices and the interface sort of reflects that heritage. It is very quirky and seems to usually take more clicks than necessary. Nonetheless, once you get the hang of it, it is very quick to put together mixes.
I started with the iOS version and liked it so much that I bought the iMac version (it is available for Windows as well). The desktop versions will function as VST or AU plugins for other DAWs. I love using it where I want a nice evolving drone sound in a piece. No longer do I need to find a loop or play complicated synth sequences - just drop in a nice evolving sound and it is done.
On any platform, Mixtikl can also function as a DAW on it's own if you wish. The app gives you 12 tracks each with 4 cells that can contain either loops from the program or WAV files of any length. With the ability to repeat any cell as many times as you want, this allows you to put together fairly complex mixes.
You can set cells to repeat a set number of times and then a random number beyond that. If you are careful about your math, you can also create some non-evolving simple looping pieces. You do have to be careful that you count your measures properly so that the tracks cycle at the same rate if that is what you wish. For example, if you put a sample in a cell that is 2 bars long, you use the repeat count x 2 for determining length. You can set a "blank" cell to repeat if you need rests or delays.
The best features of Mixtikl are the generative capabilities though. You can put generative loops that slowly evolve as they play and you can now tweak the notes used, rules for generating and even change the sounds. The one part that is a bit difficult is that the built in synthesizer (Partikl) does not take any keyboard input - you have to feed it either a Noatikl loop or a MIDI file so you have to first bang out a melody elsewhere.
The track below is a nice chilled generative piece (though since it is recorded, it sounds the same everytime). If you were to play this in Mixtikl, it would be different every time you heard it!
Adrift in the passing lane by oldlibmike