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Friday, June 11, 2010

Mugician Pro work started

As a start, I am modifying current Mugician code to be "Mugician Pro". I got some issue that's keeping the store version of Mugician from cleanly installing "Mugician Pro" at the same time.

The first thing I am adding is some FM synthesis capability - to give a much warmer and tweakable underlying tone before it mashes through the distortion. Since space is so scarce, I am taking the whole bottom row for sliders. Interestingly, no range is lost since the leftmost item on first row above the controls is already the lowest note. You only give up having an alternate fingering for the bottom 5 bass notes in that case; a tradeoff I could see coming.

Anyway, the plan is to at least put up Mugician Pro as a bug-fix branch of the free version with enough new features as would be commonly useful. I do plan on keeping this instrument simple.

I am not going to get into the game of trying to entice people to buy with more complexity. Every wierd new feature will only be used by a small number of purchasers, and I will end up with a big ball of goo trying to rope a lot of people by catering to all of them. You may note that there is not a single letter of text in this app. When I really have to put that first one on, I have failed in simplicity.


  1. I love the work you are doing on mugician!
    Also, you have a great philosophy of less is more.

  2. Thank you! At the moment I am working In a black hole of very little feedback, with the best feedback of all being people showing off their skills with it. I did actually go down to a club in Manhattan to jam with well known electronic musician Leon Gruenbaum to test my theory that this is just the thing to drop into a club and jack in to the PA. This is my first app store app, and I am learning a lot. I made a pittance before I decided to use this app as a probe to figure out the sales distributions and how the market reacts to changes.

    I don't understand why the store isn't full of instruments that you can play fast across a lot of octaves - like an obsession with showing off the screen is standing in the way, and a serious aversion to letting an instrument be an instrument - learning curve and all. Though in the last few days, hex layouts (great for chording) and more guitar-like layouts (you know what I think of those!) are forthcoming. Though my agenda is to actually *break* the current music scene by contributing to the rise of music that just isn't playable on piano or fretted guitar - microtonal - and people migrate to multitouch computers as workhorse instruments.

    I know that this program is decidedly minimalist, but I am puzzled by the love/hate distribution of the unwritten ratings. I was almost all 5 stars before I came to the conclusion that the whole idea of a microtonal oriented instrument can not be more than a dozen sales a day and made it free. A lot of people who are grabbing it for free seem to hate it (ugh...then leave me alone and don't download it) which might be an indication that the learning curve puts people off; or dismay at the lack of cosmetics or a helping hand embedded in the instrument (the latter two I am not so interested in working on, as a reasonable sound, including perfect latency handling while adding effects is easily enough to take all my free time. I never bought a real instrument with a manual in my life anyway.)

  3. Stay true to your principles! You have created an instrument, not a "music maker.". Don't worry too much about the goofy one-star ratings. Lots of apps have that inverse bell curve, which I just write off to flea like attention spans. +++ for better FM. I would like to see a way to save and recall defined voices. Possibly also variable persistence of the note highlighting??? Glad I found your blog. Let us know if there are videos of musicians performing with Mugician. (P.S. I criticized the name in app store review. I apologize. Wasn't familiar with the fact that it's an accepted term.)

  4. Eh, criticisms that are constructive and true are good, so long as I still come out ahead. I value *all* feedback that has been thought through. My first one star was the rating that caused ratings to finally show up for the first time, and they were good overall - so that was a good thing.

    If you want to hear about a bad name, my MIDI instrument is called "Xstrument". Say that three times real fast. :-D

    Some of my 'principles' are just me being a beginner iPhone/iPad developer - and resisting. :-) But I do think that knowing how to do *anything* induces people to do crazy things. My weakest spot, where it really matters, is in being a hack when it comes to sound engineering.

    I could use help from somebody that knows how to make instruments sound as good as an portable reverb/tubeDistortion amp. Being fretless has the benefit of including the beating and slop that you lose when everything is "perfect" and literally modelled according to the underlying theory.

  5. At some point I will end up doing another serious video song. Right now I am posting incremental progress while I figure try out new ideas.


    That note about preventing accidental change; I have been thinking the same thing, as I have always had that problem. Your hands are crossing over the sliders and you can accidentally hit them. Maybe I should move all that stuff to the top so you can't hit it by accident.

    This is what I think most people are doing when they download it:


    Some people might have been expecting to play songs with it (or find a song-list that does it for you) as soon as they turned it on, got a result like this. I guess that it's fair to call it a 1 star experience if you aren't a guitarist and just wanted to have fun for a few minutes and move on.

  6. :-)

    That's where our future virtuosos come from.

    I play some acoustic guitar, but I haven't made all the connections yet.

    Have you seen the performance on YouTube by sqNEMO? There's someone who really gets it. (Sorry, can't seem to paste link using iPad.)

  7. I just went to go look at that. We subscribe to each other on youtube.

    I was surprised to see him play in the tall orientation, as I can't play in tune in that orientation - my fingers are too wide to do it. I only allowed that orientation because I wasn't sure if somebody would have a reason to choose better expression resolution over pitch resolution.

    But it seems that this is the beginning. I'm somewhat torn about whether to just make current code a pro paid version or release it for free. I learned the hard way that putting a token price will keep out curiosity seekers that will be very bad for my rating; it's not because I expect to make a lot of money. I have studied the distribution (10/day at #100,100/day at #15,2000/day at #4,etc), and come to the conclusion that you have to pick an app that's going to be popular to begin with.

    The highest quality microtonal instrument ever made would still have small sales just because of what it is.

    It's telling that those who I owe something, because they paid, consistently gave me much higher ratings than people who have been gifted something for nothing. It's the only reason I might not release the next version free; to protect its rating.