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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mugician changes coming to a stop. Live on as a free app in the store.

Go no further until you watched the tutorial. Mugician 1.7 final(?) tutorial is here. I am waiting for Mugician 1.7 to be approved. Please look at my overall ratings and comments for all versions. Before this version, nobody has written less than a 4 star rating in a comment - in the almost 3 months since it came out. 1.6 isn't as great as 1.5, and the people who depend on Mugician to do gigs were especially angry about the 1.6 sound.

Mugician was never intended to be easy to use, but to be *expedient* and *expressive* when you get the hang of it. Those two goals are usually in conflict. So most of common questions are in the tutorial. There's a few things I missed - such as almost every setting does something special at the 0% setting. (Hey, did you ever read that manual that came with your guitar? Your amp? Ok. I don't feel so bad.)

I have been talking about a rewrite for a long time, but haven't had strong enough motivation to get away from this project until now. The plan is to create even better instruments with the little free-time I have.

Mugician is now my main instrument, so I'm eating the dogfood and putting it up on youtube. My guitars and basses are collecting dust in my basement at the moment. I think I did a pretty good job for knowing next to nothing about UIKit, OpenGLES2, or digital signal processing. I learned a lot, got a few scars, and got to meet and hang out with some of my rock heroes. You guys that made $1000 in exchange for extreme efforts got a worse result. :-) If I am going to hit the ground running with a paid app, I need to be well regarded and connected on the first day that the app is approved; something which I am now prepared for in spite of the 1.6 debacle.

In my opinion, most iPad instruments look much better than mine, sound okay (great sampled sounds but often too static), but totally ignore that sound element created by the ergonomics of the instrument. A lot of them now have good latency characteristics, especially if they aren't too interactive (ie: special beatboxes rather than instruments). Most of them seriously constrain your virtuosity by being too "helpful" (making you play in scale, making you play in tune, and even making you play in-time in some cases). My music is full of accidentals; *Quartertone* accidentals even. ... and don't get me started about beat-boxes and odd-time signatures.

Like having a distinct voice, you can't sound good on an instrument unless the instrument lets you fail in every way possible, because when you succeed on a hard instrument, you will sound different from another person who is also good at it. The possibility to get everything "wrong" is the core thing that allows innovation. Whenever the instrument helps, it also forces everyone that touches it to sound the same - so you have to be careful about providing too much of the wrong kind of help.

These instruments are all improving on this score quickly though. But I am pretty proud to say that some of the people who beat me the hardest over 1.6 did so because they were using 1.5 in gigs in front of large crowds - which is a rare thing that any iPad instrument can claim at the moment.


As a side note, when you rate an app in the store, you are not just expressing what you think of the current version. You are voting on the future existence of the app, and future contributions from the developer who did it. It's especially true when the app in question is in return for something intangible rather than money. By all means, I think that hopeless junk apps should be run out of town to make room for the things that are more promising.

I am grateful for those who ceased fire when I acknowledged that there was a problem, and contacted me. Some of them got help to get back to 1.5. Others helped me to get 1.7 together. Others just waited it out. I tried to address and digest the criticisms, as most of them acknowledged that it's not a condemnation of the project as a whole. If you socked me in the ratings for 1.6, I only ask that you come back and rate 1.7 to even things out for me.

Anybody who liked the 1.5 sound should like the 1.7 sound. If you still hate 1.7, but liked 1.5... then make sure that the full-stereo isn't making your rig sound wierd, if it's not that, then CONTACT ME. As an example: Some settings are allowed to be moved up to absurd levels - like the right purple slider that controls FM based distortion. Tone that thing down if you get too much high-end. If it sounds cheesy, then send me an email, and I might have a trick to help.
Another example is that the heaviest metal sound isn't necessarily to just kick all the sliders to the top.

And as always... You REALLY SHOULD contact me if you use this on stage. I might be able to provide you with a giant improvement in your sound, or turn your feedback into your ideal instrument on another project.


  1. Well, I'm sad to see work stop on such an awesome instrument... though I understand why. I just love it because it's a REAL instrument, and as you say, it's quite possible to make it sound BAD! It doesn't coddle you with the "hard to make mistakes" mentality. I like that. Because often enough, I don't want to be trapped in an A-harmonic-minor scale... I might want to jump to an E-petatonic major or something else fun...

    Well, thanks for the hard work. I'll keep playing with Mugician, and hoping for the best!

  2. I just discovered Mugician and after learning and playing around for a few hours I will say this: thank you for one of the best apps there is on the platform, I'm sure you made a lot of people very happy with this. Truly a new instrument in its own right.


  3. Thanks tre! This post was from a long time ago. I am working with Jordan Rudess on my next instrument, currently code-named Pythagoras. It is quite a bit better than Mugician in some respects. Check out the videos I posted. Hopefull I can submit within a month or so, but making a synth for Wizdom is significantly harder than the cowboy approach I manage on my own!