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Entries in Joe Satriani (1)

Amazing Joe Satriani cover played in the new GarageBand for iPad

At some points in this video it is hard to believe you are listening to a guitar simulation, played on a touchscreen computer by YouTube user TelevatorMuzak (a.k.a. Francis). It's a track we are very fond of anyway, but we also think it is a remarkable demonstration of what can be done with the right know-how and a lot of musical talent.

We contacted Francis to find out about his musical interests, creating music using GarageBand and the improvements that version 1.2 brings.

iPad Creative: Tell us something about yourself and your love for music making.

Francis: I've been making music (or just mere 'sound like things' when I was younger!) as far back as I can remember, from banging pots and pans to finally, real instruments. Although I've been in bands, I'm not really a band guy. I mostly enjoy making solo post-rock music, like modern acoustic guitar fingerpicking and solo piano, and probably that's why I enjoy making music on the iPad.

iPad Creative: What do you think of GarageBand for the iPad?

Francis: Oh, I'm really stoked with the iPad GarageBand. I usually do recordings on DAWs but this app is just so liberating for me because the playable instruments are self-contained. I think Apple nailed it with their accelerometer velocity sensors. The instruments are remarkably expressive. One thing I didn't really like about other iOS music apps before GB was exactly this, everything sounded robotic and electronic (which may sound good with some genres) but Apple took it to the next level with the expressive range of the instruments. So now, I could sneak convincing recordings on the couch, at work, in my car, on the toilet, LOL, pretty much anywhere, without lugging around extra equipment. Granted, it's like learning new instruments altogether, but once you get the hang of, it's satisfying what you can create.

Again, I'm not a band kind of guy and I'm mesmerized by the idea of performers doing all the parts amazingly on their own despite the limitations of their instruments and that precisely what's so challenging but rewarding when working with the iPad GarageBand app.

iPad Creative: And your take on the improvements that arrived with version 1.2?

Francis: I think it's great they took it to another level. The note editor opens it up further for everyone, all you need is a good ear. I'm glad I could transpose notes now especially with the guitar sound since in the old version, it was a bit limited in range.

It's also convenient for tweaking the parts a bit. You don't have to nail each riff each time. You could just go in and shift a few notes in time and pitch if you mess up. But as with any synthetic music, there's a danger of sounding too synthetic, so real-time expression is still important if you're aiming for that sort of thing. I think Apple provided iPad GB with ample expressive tools to make your songs subtly nuanced.

iPad Creative: Besides GarageBand, what other iPad apps excite you, for music creation or otherwise?

Francis: Pretty much any app that will take the leap from the desktop to the tablet excites me. I like how Apple keeps the iPad versions of their software clean and simple so as not to take away from their more powerful desktop versions. They're more like spontaneous sketchpads than real workstations but, of course, that might change in the near future.

Francis has something very interesting in the pipeline, we'll bring you more news soon. In the meantime listen to this stunning cover again, particularly the last couple of minutes. Just think, this was produced on a computer that some people claimed would be the death of creativity. Fortunately, that argument has been well and truly quashed.

Further reading: TelevatorMuzak