Percussa micro super signal processor

The most valuable tech is tech that lasts. And so, combining MIDI (I love the 80s!) with the iPad can make it useful as part of a “studio” setup, not just a replacement for other gear. Here’s the iPad step sequencing our MeeBlip open source synth – no need to give up knobs and tangible gear.

Music making requires going beyond novelty or shiny gear lust and getting into how to make a technology expressive. Whether a camera or a synthesizer, you have to find a way to make a tool your own, and how to make it live with the other objects with which you create.

Working with Tekserve, the landmark independent Apple sales and service shop in Manhattan, CDM is co-hosting an event to dive into just that question. It’s called the “Future of Music,” because Tekserve has been running that series for a while. But it’s really about the present of music – perhaps your own musical future. It’s not about the iPad as the solution to everything; on the contrary, it’s about figuring out what an iPad really is, and how you can combine it with other music tools.

We’ve assembled a handful of people to play live and discuss, and I’m curious to meet some of the Tekserve audience. Since the vast majority of you can’t make it to Manhattan, we’ll of course follow up with video and more resources here on CDM.

The lineup:

Harry Allen is moderating; Harry’s a veteran of Public Enemy, a journalist (The Village Voice, The Source), hip-hop activist and Media Assassin, Chuck D collaborator and WBAI host. He’s been a voice on everything from video game architectural design to hip-hop history, and I’m sure he’ll ask us some challenging questions.

Oliver Chesler, a really accomplished musician as “The Horrorist,” and writer of the excellent Wire to the Ear, perhaps best represents the app lifestyle. Oliver embraces the simplicity of iOS apps as quick ways of experimenting with sound and ideas, and he’ll use a variety of apps – from sound generation to sketchpad recording – in his working method.

Steve Horelick has been a prolific film, TV, and game composer on everything from Reading Rainbow to HBO, but he also plays live, algorithmic soundscapes. Steve works with the iPad as part of a larger workflow, still heavily relying on his computer and extensive, wild customization of the Logic Environment for generative musical structures. He’s a collaborator with Jordan Rudess and tells us he’ll be playing with Morphwiz and iPad touch control, and we’ll even get a ZenDrum.

Joshue Ott, developer of Thicket, has made the iPad (and iPhone) art platforms, hanging them in galleries, making interactive apps (with Morgan Packard), and using them with his existing computer (and computer GPU) sets in SuperDraw. He also represents the latest generation of audiovisual digital work, owing roots to the early demo scene and experiments in generative audiovisuals that now span several decades. (See our previous interview.)

For my part, I’ll be talking about ways in which the iPad can coexist with traditional hardware. To me, touchscreens don’t work for everything, but the iPad can act as a slim, touchable computer, interconnected via MIDI and wireless with conventional gear. It can, ironically, get you closer to using hardware by getting you away from the computer. I’ll show some solutions for MIDI, even via wired MIDI.

We’re not looking to advertise anything. (Good thing, too, as none of us is getting paid!) Tekserve is not Apple; they’re an independent-minded mecca for Apple tech that’s been in the city since the late 80s, and they’ve seen plenty of trends come and go. And we’re not iPad advocates – we’re musicians first. So, if you want a glimpse into the future, the best way to talk about it is to see how people are actually making music, and to focus on the practical and pragmatic solutions to expressing the music in our imagination.

Just as no synth, no drum machine, no laptop is for everyone, neither is the iPad. But I look forward to sharing ways in which you can make expressive use of this new tech with these other folks, and hope we can offer some information that will help make those interested more productive.

When: Thursday, February 3
Where: Tekserve, 119 23rd St. at 6th Ave. NYC (and here on the Web shortly after for everyone else)
How much: Free, including refreshments.

Register in advance for the NYC event, or stay tuned into CDM!