Percussa micro super signal processor

It’s iPhones being used by cute babies! And if that doesn’t sum up the ways in which Apple’s mobile is divisive, I don’t know what does. It’s time for our Monday round-up of the latest from the Apple iStuff world.

I’ve never been an advocate of the iPhone and iPod touch; the idea is to cover all digital music platforms on CDM, and as regular readers know, I have no love of Apple’s strict NDA and restrictive developer policies. But I did find this reader comment by PLP amusing:

I was getting annoyed with the amount of iphone info on CDM as well…then I broke down and bought one today 🙂 i really like itouch midi. little XY pad perfect.

If you’ve found yourself in that boat, today’s round-up of iPhone and iPod touch news brings some very good news: BtBx, the PSP Rhythm creators’ wonderful beat machine, in action, iDrum working with round-trip workflows and operated by babies, and a multi-touch OpenSoundControl app on the app store.

BtBx in Action

What it is: The creators of the popular PSP Rhythm for Sony PSP show off their latest beat-making app for Apple. And it costs about as much as one beer — during happy hour.
Why it matters: Designing UIs for mobile apps requires a return to efficient, minimal interface design. Mark my words – that’ll start to influence desktop UI design for music software. And, yo, Sony: this could have been an official app on your platform, except you refused to make them an official developer. Indie PSP store, please?

Louie (RCON) shares two tasty BtBx videos. First on deck: making some acid basslines with BtBx. Skip the first couple of minutes — it’s the usual beat step sequencer you’ve seen before. Things start to get interesting further in as he sequences a live bassline. Note this is also the first time we’ve seen a full-blown synth in one of these apps, which for me put BtBx at the front of the pack. Part of why I like the Sony PSP is that it’s very capable of doing a lot of hard-core synthesis; we’re still waiting to see how much the iPhone can do.

For a sense of BtBx’s workflow, here’s a video demo of mixing songs:

BtBx was later to the game than iDrum and BeatMaker, but my guess is it’s going to start to earn some attention. I’ve just gotten my refurb iPod touch for testing these apps, so watch for a three-way battle soon. They each have their own strengths, and they’re very different. But don’t think that’ll stop me from letting my own biases loose and choosing a favorite.

iDrum + iDrum = Round-Trip Ticket

What it is: An update to the iDrum desktop app means you can take samples and patterns from your Mac and PC, then to your iPhone / iPod touch, and back again.
Why it matters: The laptop/desktop computer remains the center of music making for most people, and mobile tech isn’t likely to change that. But imagine simpler, portable versions of your favorite music apps, so you can develop ideas on the road and bring them back to the main environment. (Ableton, are you listening?)

iDrum has a unique feature, which is the ability to make custom sample packs and/or patterns in iDrum on your desktop Mac or PC, load them on your iPod touch or iPhone, edit them in iDrum, and then bring the full patterns back to your desktop. That solves an important issue, which is that MIDI export from a mobile device gives you patterns but not the sounds you created them for, whereas audio export gives you both but can’t be edited as easily as MIDI. It’s the first real round-trip workflow we’ve seen on the Apple platform. (Palm and Windows Mobile have done something like that before with music apps, but it’s still big news. Any Palm/WinMo historians, did any match up the desktop and mobile app quite like this?)

The trick was, we were waiting on a desktop update to actually use this. It’s now here, in the form of iDrum 1.64 (and later):

iDrum Product Page

Here’s a great demo of how iDrum in general works:

And for all of you iPhone haters who said these are just toys with UIs that look like they were designed for babies — okay, maybe you were right. But Baby Nicolina would like to have a word for you. If you insult her mad production skills, she gets really angry.

(The uploader notes Nicolina can “* Sequences notes * Turn the sequencer on * Solo the kick drum and modify which notes play * Bring in the modified kick drum part with the overall beat!”)

OpenSoundControl App on App Store

OpenSoundControl is a terrific, open protocol for controlling music and visual software more flexibly than you can with MIDI. It’s ideal for the iPhone and iPod touch, because these devices use networking protocols to communicate with the outside world.

We’ve seen controller apps on the “jailbroken” iPhone, but OSCemote is the first to be available via the official SDK and App Store. (That should be a reasonably good sign, in that it means at least some of this functionality is possible using Apple’s official SDK.)

It’s quite a nice app, as you can see. I like the simplicity of it, actually, as there’s not a whole lot of space on an iPhone for your fingers. The killer feature is clearly the Lemur-like multi-touch mode. And because it uses OSC, it should be a snap to hook this up to apps like Processing or the new Circle synth.

iTunes links:
OSCemote
OSCemote Light

I’ll definitely be testing this and will report back. A free version gives you pads, so try that out first; the full version is US$5. I am still interested to watch for jailbroken apps to make their way through the hurdles of the new SDK and, hopefully, show up on the official store. Some of those apps do things this one doesn’t, one (mrmr) has been open source, and choice is good. (I’m unclear on the implications of Apple’s developer agreement for open source; maybe someone has some idea.)

Here’s a quick review of those apps:

iPod / iPhone Touch as Visualist Controller: Free, Multiplatform with Pd (Pure Data)
Mrmr : iPhone + 10.5 + Quartz Composer = Wireless VJ Nirvana
MIDI Control with iPhone and iPod Touch: i3L MIDI Bridge
aka.iphone 2.1: More iPhone and iPod Touch Performance Tools; launch video

These won’t work even if you jailbreak your 2.0 iPhone/iPod touch, because the firmware changes are incompatible with these 1.x jailbroken apps.

We’ve also seen one official DMX controller

More entries for our next iTouch round-up? Send them our way!