GarageBand for iPad Hands-on: Why It’s Ideal for Beginners, What You May Not Know

Let’s get this out of the way: musicians are not a “niche” group. Recording has done some damage to the popular practice of live music, but still, you’ll find an astonishing number of people play instruments and sing. (New pop culture phenomena like Glee, the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games, and the resurgent TV talent show have helped, too.) What’s “niche” is conventional music production software. While it’s a fast-growing segment, music making software remains elusive and befuddling to a whole lot of musicians. GarageBand for Mac was one answer to what software for the remaining group should look like. But …


Tablet Scores: Avid Answers Our Scorch Questions; Bluetooth Page Turners for iPad, Android

Digital notation took a big step forward last week with the release of Avid Scorch, the first take on mobile notation from developer Sibelius. (It’s the first mobile app, period, from industry titan Avid, so it’s interesting to watch them go first with notation – especially as even Apple skipped scores with their first release of GarageBand.) Anything new is liable to generate a lot of questions. So we’ve taken those questions straight to the source, to the Sibelius team at Avid. One of the things I always enjoyed about the folks at Sibelius is that they’re an exceptionally bright, …


Hack by Day, Afrotronic Future Funk By Night: Handmade Music NYC Sat 4/2, Listening and More Free Now

If you’re in the NYC area, we hope you’ll mark your calendar; if not, we have some free listening for you to explore below. Hacking and inventing, creative musicians are making and modifying the tools of their performance to express the music they imagine, with stunning variety of results. And so it is that once a month (erm, more or less), we get together in Manhattan to celebrate music makers at a little thing we call Handmade Music. This month, experimental sound systems and Afrotronic future funk with new electronic instruments inspired by west African tradition join the lineup. 1-6 …


Golden Age of Wireless: Korg iOS Sync, Android + MIDI Hardware, Enter Bluetooth MIDI?

Ready to cut the cord and go wireless? With mobile gadgets getting involved in music-making, it seems a logical solution – maybe not reason to throw away your MIDI cabling, but worth at least trying. Bluetooth could be an answer. In fact, it could work even without all those pesky, pricey mobile tablets and phones lying around, just with good, old-fashioned MIDI gear. (‘Bout time.) Bluetooth and MIDI are a logical match; the big surprise is that these two haven’t paired off (cough) much earlier. We’ve seen the occasional implementation or paper or rant, but not much real-world usage. That …


Moog’s Filtatron for iPhone Indispensable in Pocket; 1.1 New Features

What good is a sound app on a phone or iPod, really? Just ask a Filtatron user. As with plug-ins and desktop software doodads, I find out of the sea of apps on iOS, a tiny handful are genuinely useful. But those select few can prove indispensable. I would count the Moog Filtatron in that category. Sure, in case there was any doubt, the app contains a subtle link to the Moog hardware catalog, an effort to upsell you to the company’s sound gear. And sure, owners of said gear might turn up their nose at the idea of something …


Apple Magic Trackpad as Multi-Touch Input, and Cross-Platform Multi-Touch

Apple today, alongside beefed-up iMacs with quad-core and Mac Pro towers with twelve, introduced a $69 Bluetooth trackpad accessory with multi-touch gesture support. I’m not a huge fan of trackpads over mice, but yes, this does give you a cheap multi-touch input to play with. And we haven’t seen much in the dirt-cheap, under-$100 space. Wacom’s Bamboo Pen & Touch is a fun, decent-enough tablet available at a street price about the same as the Magic Trackpad. But its “multi-touch” functionality consists of a set of hard-wired gestures – developers can’t get at discrete touch points directly on the …


Digi Didgeridoo: Augmented Wireless Digital Instrument with Aboriginal Roots

The Didgeridoo is one of the human race’s great triumphs in instrument design, simple but capable of producing profound sound – thanks, indigenous Australians. Kyle Evans sends us his project to extend the instrument with powerful digitally-augmented sound-making capabilities. The ingredients: Bluetooth wireless data transmission, connecting to a wireless mic Additional controls, including pots, push buttons, and toggles. (One limitation of the original relative to other blown instruments is its lack of any kind of keys or finger holes – an issue if you want to play with more than one note or modify the sound with something other than …


Music Goes Peer-to-Peer, Multiplayer: Smule Leaf Trombone for iPhone 3.0

iPhone users today started downloading the new iPhone OS, 3.0. One interesting feature of the new mobile software is peer-to-peer communication for collaborating in person. If you’re looking for an app that takes advantage of that, and can embarrass you in front of friends / workmates, Smule Trombone could be your answer. The touch-and-breath-controlled social music app/game from synthesis wizard Dr. Ge Wang has a special 3.0-only version. It uses the new iPhone push notification for achievements, but more importantly, features peer-to-peer Bluetooth for in-person “Duet Mode.” I think these sort of networked features will increasingly become not only a …


Nintendo Wii Fit: More Bizarre Music Controllers to Come?

Nintendo keeps cooking up innovative new control schemes for its Nintendo Wii console. And if the Wii controller was any indication, you can expect musicians, DJs, and artists will be taking up this latest controller shortly after it’s available. The Wii Fit controller is a force-sensing panel the player stands on; it’s used to measure weight and balance. “Ah, just what I need during a workout,” you say, “an always-on scale to demoralize me.” Amazingly, though, this simple controller is used for some pretty impressive controls, from balance for yoga to leaning weight in one direction or another. Foot-based controllers …


Wii DJs Scratching with Traktor on Wiij, and Wii, Wii Everywhere?

Is the Wii controller the new mouse? They’re starting to pop up all over the place, with all sorts of applications. As the villain in Pixar’s The Incredibles says at the end of the film, “When everyone’s super, no one is.” The related principle is, “When everyone has a gimmick, it’s not a gimmick any more.” Result: the gimmick disappears, and people focus instead on sounds and (in the case of Wii) the fun of moving around. And that’s a very good thing. (Hey, we got far more mileage out of the darned mouse than we every should have.) We …