Friday, July 12, 2013

Noatikl for the iPad - tutorial 1

I'm going to go step by step in creating a Noatikl piece that uses Virtual MIDI to drive other apps on the iPad in this example. Noatikl has a nice built-in modular synth called Partikl that you can use if you want to craft your own sounds with oscillators, drum synths etc., but Virtual MIDI lets you use any of your favorite synth apps provided that they support MIDI (most major synths seem to).
If you want all the details on Noatikl or its built-in synth, Partikl, check out the documentation at Intermorphic's website here.
To start our song, hit the menu button in the upper left corner of Noatikl.

This brings up the menu to load an existing piece or create a new one:

Press the plus button on the upper right to create a new piece. This brings up the template menu.

Assuming you are creating a Western style piece with traditional scales, select the "Scale Rules" template for your new piece. This will pre-load the internal rules for scales, rhythms etc. it does help if you have some musical training!
Next we should set up some defaults for our pieces such as tempo, scale and how we want to generate the sounds. For that you should press the piece button at the bottom of the screen to show the piece options.

This screen can be intimidating but we are only going to change a couple defaults. We will make the tempo 120 BPM and then scroll down to scale and select Pentatonic.

I also put my name in author and put a note in reminding me of the synth I am using for the sound. The grey bars in the rules show which notes or intervals will be used and the height of the bars indicates the probability for any given event. Confused? The noatikl manual goes into more detail. Note that the Pentatonic scale rule has five bars of equal height. A Pentatonic scale has five notes and we made them all equally likely to be played. Pentatonic scales almost always harmonize easily and sound good. You can always come back here later, change the scale type and immediately hear the effect on your song!
Now we should press the design button and set a few more options by pressing the gear button on the upper right of the screen.
We are going to turn off the Partikl switch since we will not be using Noatikl's built-in synth. We will turn on Virtual MIDI and MIDI clock options so these are sent to the Virtual MIDI ports.
Alright so far? Let's add a voice in Noatikl. Go to the design screen and press the + button. This time select from the Noatikl seed section a fixed pattern voice.
This voice is going to be our kick drum! In the design window, drag from the new voice and you'll see 16 'target' MIDI destinations. Drag to MIDI channel 10. Tap lightly on the voice, select edit and tap on 'Voice 1' and rename it to Kick.
At this point we have a nice song that makes no noise at all! In the next post, we will configure the target MIDI application that will be playing the notes.

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