This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument

You can get the feeling of “pushing into” an iPhone as of the iPhone 6S. It’s an expressive, intimate gesture, which is generally used for … wait, really, shortcut menus? That’s pretty boring. Ever since I saw the feature, I wanted to see it used for music applications. And one obvious fit is an emerging standard for sending expressive pressure-based control over MIDI. The futuristic, sleek black ROLI Seaboard does it. The lovely, wooden Madrona Labs Soundplane does it. Roger Linn’s innovative grid-covered Linnstrument does it. It’s all a (draft) specification for control called MPE – Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. (Early …


Novation’s Launchpad app now in color, works with hardware

Now, it comes in colors. Novation’s Launchpad app has a new UI that shows in colors – and matches colors on connected Launchpad hardware. And with this latest update to the iOS apps from the Blocs team at Novation, you’ve got a more viable option for making music and jamming without the laptop.


Steinberg made a free iPhone metronome – and it’s great

Soemtimes it’s the little things. I’ve struggled for some time to find a simple metronome I can recommend. But a lot have a bunch of features I don’t really care about – and then lack some basic flexibility. So this is a welcome and unexpected arrival. It’s a free metronome app from Steinberg for iOS, and it’s really nice.


Get simple cheap mobile music making tips in these videos

Backpack-friendly rigs on the cheap are yours – if you know how to put them together. Fortunately, we’ve got some expert help. For starters… fancy tools? No. Sync? Who needs it. Just a Korg Kaossilator and the Propellerhead Figure app are part of a little jam here from our friend Jakob Haq.


Novation’s iOS app updates do Link, let you ditch the laptop

The iPad (and iPhone) are starting to look like the ultimate jamming devices – mobile, connected, and ready to play. And it’s doing what laptops can, in a less awkward form factor. Back-to-back updates from Novation are bringing their apps closer to that reality, today. Now, Novation are rubbing shoulders with Ableton in some wireless jam sessions set up at Barcelona’s SONAR Festival today. But what we’re talking about opens up possibilities for both use cases – laptops playing with iPads, and iPads replacing laptops.

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Trainspottr is the social music player Facebook forgot

Facebook is all but happy to distract you. It can bombard you with instant messages, show you endless pictures of the babies your forgotten friends from high school have just popped out. Now it can do live video streams and spawn trending news. What it bizarrely doesn’t do much is play music. And if you think about it, that’s pretty strange. If you’re a music lover, Facebook is full of musical knowledge about you. There are the artists and labels you like, and the music magazines and podcasts you follow. The problem is, finding the music they post is a …


McDonald’s in the Netherlands lets you DJ with your placemat

Move over, collecting stickers off your Coke to try to win Monopoly. Dutch McDonald’s customers can DJ using a combination of their phone and a placemat.


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.


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.

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 …