Play with Steve Reich’s techniques in a free iPhone app

Steve Reich’s musical etudes are already a kind of self-contained lesson in rhythm. Inspired by drumming traditions, Reich distills in his music essential principles of rhythmic construction, introducing Western Classical musicians to cyclic forms. That makes them a natural for visual scoring – doubly so something interactive, which is what an iPhone can provide. And so one percussion ensemble has made an app that both reveals Reich’s techniques and opens up a toy you can use to make your own musical experiments. Plus – it’s free.


Modstep is now a hub for everything; learn how to use it

Modstep, the step sequencer on steroids on iOS, just got a huge pile of new features. It hosts AU plug-ins (yes, iOS plug-ins). It adds per-track MIDI, for hardware and apps. It has loads of new features for clips and arranging. It is, basically, a MIDI daw with built-in instruments that’s unlike nearly anything on desktop – only it was designed from the ground-up for the iPad. In fact, it does so much that it’s a bit overwhelming. So, let’s take a birds-eye view of what’s new – and then turn to the singular educational force that s Jakob Haq …


iMaschine and Novation Blocs Wave now have Link support

Ableton’s Link, a collaborative jamming platform that lets you sync without wires, without “masters” or “slaves”, and without a whole lot of pain, continues to grow. It’s just shown up in Native Instruments’ iMaschine, as well as Novation’s Blocs Wave. Blocs Wave is notable because it’s pretty new, but seeing Ableton Link in an NI product is itself a breakthrough. NI could have just declared this “not invented here,” but they didn’t. And now the message from users to Ableton is clear: bring this platform to the desktop, so we can use it with everything.


Here’s why advanced MIDI in KORG Gadget is cool

The hyperactive genius force that is Jakob Haq is back to show you why the iPad can make a great music tool. This time, it seems KORG have updated their deep Gadget app with some advanced MIDI routing features. Okay, MIDI channel may not be the most sophisticated thing ever. But watch what happens when Jakob puts Fugue Machine (the clever note generation tool) with Gadget’s synths: Beautiful stuff. More details and discussion: Keep these videos coming, mr. haQ attaQ.


Tested: Apple finally lets you charge and use USB on iPad

Tools like the iPad have brought us lots of nice new things – day-long batteries, ultra-thin lightweight devices, beautiful touchable apps, less time spent troubleshooting. But then they’ve also forced us to make weird choices. Do you want electricity or do you want accessories. (Um, both? Wait, what?!) And so it is that I’m writing this piece of news. Now, you can plug into a wall for electricity! (Wow!) And, you can use USB accessories! And you don’t have to choose!

Light some candles, make some music. Sounds like a nice evening in to us. Photo courtesy Apple.

Apple’s new iOS lineup is a gift to music developers, users

There’s a reason “mobile music” has become synonymous with iOS. Apple has been unmatched in terms of how appealing they make their mobile platform to developers. Today’s announcements are likely to be heavily covered by tech and Apple-focused sites, but we can cover the music angle pretty easily. It’s now possible to buy a new phone or tablet very cheaply with high-end performance capable of running demanding music apps. And that means the platform is likely to continue to attract both users and developers, in a continuous cycle. On the phone side, a 16GB iPhone 6SE starts at US$399, without …


Skram app sounds great, navigates rhythm and harmony

Skram is the latest iOS app that claims to bridge fans curious about making music and expert producers, giving you “all you need” to make music on an iPad. So – what’s unique about this one versus everything else that claims to do that? Well, first, there’s the team behind it: Liine are the folks behind the Lemur app and various other software, performance rig, and interactive installation projects. Second, while this initial release represents just a first step, there are already some amazing sounds coming out of the included instruments. And third, Skram builds on the work of other …


Make music by touching waveforms, sampling, in new Novation app

Creating digital music is all about the business of mucking about with sounds. But somehow, the actual sounds themselves have been tangled up in immense grids and spreadsheets and mixers and things called piano rolls and so on. Blocs Wave is the latest attempt to use mobile apps to get back to basics. Here, whether you’re on an iPhone in your hand or the enormous iPad Pro, the sounds are at the center. Touch your way through the waveforms to make music – whether using soundpacks or adding your own.


This Modstep video explains why you’d want an iPad

Modstep is … an app that does a lot of sequencing things on iOS. Step sequencing and sequence recording with … a lot of stuff. And then those things all connect together, and there are templates for… Okay, it’s hard to explain. Those of us in the business have gotten used to the “it does a whole bunch of stuff” quality of DAWs. But now, new organisms are crawling out of the sea and walking on land, and they don’t have a genus and species yet. Fortunately, a new Modstep video does it absolutely perfectly, so let’s watch that.


Arturia’s iSpark is a Link-connected iOS drum machine

We know an iPad can augment a music setup. But the question for many is, can it replace a computer? Arturia’s iSpark isn’t shy about what it accomplishes. It really looks a whole lot like the company’s drum machine on desktop, only remade for iPad. And it even works with the dedicated SparkLE controller – meaning you now can go pad controller + iPad as you could controller + computer. It also comes with Ableton Link, for easy syncing and jamming with other apps, other iPads/iPhones, and Ableton Live (in any combination).