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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

expressionpad - an alternate path down reality

I just discovered this app, which is basically what everyone is asking me to turn Mugician into:


Other than some touch handling subtleties, it's pretty much what I would end up with if I listened carefully to what people ask for and changed Mugician. I am sure that I will find MIDI useful for the more ordinary stuff that I do, in spite of its stability issues in MIDI mode. So, this demonstrates that I am doing the right thing and sticking to my microtonal guns, and not worrying too much about the cries for MIDI; as this is almost the same instrument minus the subtle microtonal story - it has good latency too! Here is a video of me pushing it around, to show low latency, not stuck in any particular scale, etc. The sound engine isn't fantastic, but much of the sound of an instrument actually comes from its ergonomics; unless you don't actually know how to really *play* it.


This developer also charged what I am often told that Mugician could command for a price. But I haven't heard about this app, and it has existed since JUNE. That's hard to believe, as I have obsessed over Mugician and played almost everything in the store that's worth playing.

I have my doubts that he sold enough for this obscurity to be worth the trouble. I have made a lot of very cool friends, and have some major label artists on my permanent record.

Oh, and the day after I made a video for it, it shot up in the rankings from #1700 something to #60! (it maxed at #13) (You are welcome sir!) :-) Pretty good considering that it's not being maintained right now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

ProjectRnL and Jordan Rudess - Most Awesome iPad vid

Hey, navigate here at your friendly Apple, Sony, or Android phone store and click this link from one of their nice, large screen computers, then walk over to another computer and do it again:


Nobody thought you could do that on an iPad!

Monday, January 3, 2011

SuperCollider OSC

SuperCollider is a framework for making OSC based synthesizers. It is low-level so that you really can write the synth dynamically and send it to the device to be played. I downloaded the SuperCollider distribution for OSX, and clicked on the SuperCollider binary. Here's a bit from the example, where I am typing in a command-line that is a client to the synth:

//boot the synth server that we will send messages to

//Define a simple synthesizer called "sine"
//that just puts out an 800hz wave to the left channel
//... write this definition down for later use
{ arg freq=800; var osc; osc = SinOsc.ar(freq,0,0.1); Out.ar(0,osc); }

//send it to the synthesizer
//highlight all code typed so far and press shift-return (the real 'enter' key).

//tell the synth to play the sound!!! - but set the pitch parm to 440
s.sendMsg("/s_new","sine", x = s.nextNodeID,1,1, "freq",440);

//to shut the synth up, press command and '.' at the same time.

Wow! SuperCollider is 10 years old, and is now an open source project that has been ported to multiple platforms (I believe ARM is one of them). Judging from its age, it seems probable that it performs well; possibly other than not taking advantage of special FFT acceleration; iOS4.2 supports Accelerate.Framework. If you could embed the SuperCollider server into an iPad instrument program, then you can make it a straightforward synthesizer that's easily re-programmable. Given that OSX supports this sort of use case with its multi-tasking, it might even be possible to just get somebody to ship a SuperCollider server and let the iPad instruments just use it as yet another OSC source.

Is this crazy? Is anybody doing it? This would be the way forward if there are no major performance issues. Under these circumstances, app developers would mostly just write OSC apps and tell you to point at something external like Ableton if you have it, or to the embedded SC server if you need to run stand-alone.

Oh, and... I was looking for SuperCollider books online. One is scheduled to come out in March 2011. Books, especially first books, coming out on a computing topic are good signs on what is coming next.