Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Static at all.....more on Mixtikl

After viewing some videos and playing around with Mixtikl, I was enamored with the FM DSynth in Mixtikl - predominantly because I was a bit frustrated with the Partikl synth. The FM synth is predominantly used for drum sounds in Mixtikl but does let you put together some nice bell-like tones as this piece hopefully demonstrates.

Mixtikl brings up the question on what a performance or recording is. This software is geared towards "Generative Music" as popularized by Brian Eno quite some time ago. So was this effort creative or just music engineering? The process to make the piece involved programming a rhythm pattern, then putting in rules on just how that pattern evolved - how frequent a rest versus a note - what scale to follow - what probabilities for each note - which voices should follow other voices in the mix - should a track be leading or harmonizing with others etc. etc.

In many ways this is a programming project which is probably what I love about this tool. In other ways, such as the creation of every synth patch, the effort is somewhat creative and musical. Defining the rhythms is definitely more music than programs even if it is shown as a sequence of durations, velocities and pitches.

So art or science? Or just another annoying etude of mine? :)

In any case, I like the outcome and hope to do much more with Mixtikl in the future. Here is the piece:

No Static at all

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pushing those buttons!

Brief Stop on the Median by oldlibmike

While I've been distracted by several cool new iPad tools, I finally got around to recording a piece I was working on in Aurora Sound Studio HD. I bought the tool when it reduced its price from $39 to $14 though it is still on the high side.

Aurora is very similar to the TNR-I (Tenori-On) app, but it tries to be a bit more of a full DAW with exporting, sequencing etc rather than a performance instrument like the TNR-I. I say "tries" because once I had painstakingly sequenced in my patterns, I exported the file to WAV format and was disappointed to see that Aurora distorted two of my patterns where a smooth sweep became a staccato mess. This prevented me from putting up the piece for so long that I finally gave up, put the headphone jack into the mic-in and recorded it via audio.

The audio output of the headphone jack on the iPad is quite noisy so I used a noise-gate in Logic-9 to clean up the resulting audio and I think it came out ok. I may use this technique for other synths that make recording difficult (such as the TNR-I and the excellent but hard to record AniMoog).

Using the 16x16 grids for sequencing is a novel approach and in some instances I like it better than banging on fake piano keyboards but it can be very time consuming to get a full piece put together. I think as far as push button sequencing goes, I like the TNR-I a bit better but Aurora does provide more functionality - if only it would work properly!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Well, its been awhile since I posted and I was going to put up a post about the cool Korg M1 plug-in that I'm using with Logic 9 or the new work I've done in NanoStudio or the Korg iMS-20 still being so powerful on the iPad but....Moog went ahead and put out an iPad synthesizer called Animoog that rivals anything I have and they are charging a whopping 99 cents for it.

If you don't download it immediately, why in god's name are you reading this blog???
I could review it in depth but check out the review in Wired magazine. 

This is a phenomenal synthesizer at a ridiculous price - they claim it will jump up to $30 after 30 days. I spent $300 for two soft Moog plugins for my desktop so I didn't agonize over this purchase all that much. This joins their already excellent Filtatron app and I look forward to more in the software arena from Moog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Obligatory Tribute :)

Well, so much has happened in the iPad music world and the Apple world in general. I suppose every Apple fan has to comment on the sad news so...

I think Steve Jobs was the perfectionist that took the genius of the other Steve (Woz) and made it palatable to humans. He transformed the geekiness of the Apple I/II/Mac to something consumer friendly and with a fanatical sense of taste, eschewed commercial success, ceded dominance to the mass-marketing PC industry and ultimately took back almost everything with a maniacal sense of style.

From a music perspective, he duped the Beatles into releasing their corporate name and then reshaped the entire music industry (and managed to settle it all in court). It is heartening to see how much Apple did and does love music and music creation - exactly how many companies would pump so much into products like GarageBand and effectively give it away?

For me, the Apple and GarageBand got me back into making music (albeit with my own amateurish slant) and for that I will always be grateful. Now with Logic on the high end and tons of products on the iPad and iPod, I can be creative where ever and whenever I want.

For me that is something incredible. I was not a "forever fan" of Apple but got in late in the game when Apple embraced Unix and could multitask effectively. There was always that sense of style, but before OSX, I didn't trust the tech behind it.

I think the company is on a good track and will continue to produce amazing products that stand out from the cookie-cutter PCs and cheap laptops that started to dominate at the start of this century.

I also think that we will see much more competition in all areas as the product lines mature and that will no doubt benefit everyone.