Entries in music (38)

Magic Fiddle by Smule

It is a great week for music apps and iPad. Check out the quartet in this video. They are attempting to play Canon in D Major on an iPad app and, for the most part, manage to do so.

That app is Magic Fiddle (iPad only)  which has recently been released by Smule, the company behind Magic Piano amongst other fun apps. Now you can annoy your family and friends with off-key caterwauling on your iPad like never before. What's more, you can now annoy the rest of the world too with Smule's Globe mode!

But seriously, Magic Fiddle uses a similar approach to Magic Piano to enable you to play any of the 20 included songs and more which are available from the Smule store. You touch on the correct string as musical 'notes' fall towards the bottom of the iPad screen and use different techniques to emulate the sound of a fiddle. It's a little bit like a posh version of Guitar Hero. 

Fiddle or Violin?

Smule do not call the instrument a violin, but refer to it as a fiddle so that it encompasses any bow stringed instrument. The app includes tutorials that cover bowed instrument techniques such as bow, pluck, trill and vibrato. They do this via an '8 chapter interactive journey' that features step-by-step instructions including posture, holding your fiddle (iPad), scales and apreggios.

There are also game elements to enjoy and spur you on to play better, including medals and badges and a global leaderboard. If you ever used Magic Piano you will already be familiar with the Smule globe. This is where you see a spinning 3D Earth with representations of all the other Magic Fiddle users playing songs around the world. You can listen in and 'like' their performances if you wish to.

Check it out

It looks like another winner for Smule who have a way of making music learning and experimentation fun and collaborative whilst keeping people entertained, and at just $2.99 (£1.79) it is accessible to everyone, so we think you should try it out.

If you do try Magic Fiddle let us know how you got on and what you think of trying to play a bowed instrument on your iPad.

ReBirth makes it to iPad

It is one of those apps we knew needed to be on the iPad and finally it is out and optimised for our favourite iOS device. After playing with the little brother version on our iPhones (and frankly finding it a bit too fiddly to be useable at that screen size) ReBirth for iPad, from Propellerhead Software, fulfills the enormous potential of this app and provides us with a nostalgia trip all at the same time.

With a totally redrawn UI, new sharing features for your tracks (most notably Facebook and Twitter), new menus and other new features this is a definite must buy for electronistas.

ReBirth for iPad is available now in the app store for  $14.99 (£8.99).

We hope to bring you more soon, but in the meantime check out the video above (make sure you play it in HD for the glorious detail).

iKlip Holds Your iPad When You Can't

It might seem a strange move for IK Multimedia who are primarily a software company to create an iPad specific accessory, but they have just announced iKlip, "a universal microphone stand adapter for iPad". It is available for pre-order now and will be out in December.

The iKlip attaches to your microphone stand  and holds the iPad in either portrait or horizontal format. It is also adjustable to multiple angles so should suit any setup.

Here is a description from the website:

As a Guitar or Bass player you can now use iPad on stage with AmpliTube iRig as your guitar amp and effects unit, with controls accessible right in front of you on your mic stand. Or if you use tablature and scoring apps, use iKlip to put the iPad within easy viewing range for learning and performing.

As a vocalist you can now have the perfect companion for song showcase performances: create and share set lists with your band members, complete with scoring, lyrics and notes. Everything you’d use on stage with your iPad is now within your reach.

Got a DJ, sequencer or instrument app? iKlip puts your iPad right where you need it since it can also be mounted on tabletop stands, making it the perfect DJ or virtual instrument player performance companion.

It certainly meets a need and aims to put your iPad right where you want it, especially if you are using it to play or record live music or in a practice session.

We can't wait to try this out and see how sturdy and secure it really is.

Check out some of the other images below and also the iKlip webpage where there are more images and detailed description.

We want to know what you think of this new iPad accessory. Would you trust it in a gig? Are you going to get one? Let us know in the comments. 

MobileArtCon in New York this weekend - You Are Invited

We would dearly love to be in New York this weekend! Starting tomorrow 22nd October and continuing through to Monday 25th the first ever iAMDA (International Association of Mobile Digital Artists) Mobile Art Conference will be held at will be held at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts.

The focus is on art and music created on handheld touchscreen devices, our favourite topic.

The Conference itself is on Saturday (23rd) and Sunday (24th). The Conference programme looks amazing with live demonstrations and hands-on sessions from some of the leading lights in iPad (and other mobile device) painting including David Kassan.

Healing Touch by Mia Robson (created on iPad with Brushes)There will even be a session with a live link to London where Paul Kercal (a UK based art teacher, iPad Creative Flickr Group member and, we hope, still reader of this blog) is leading a 'Team Teach' with a group of students, as he informed us about in his comment on our recent post.

We are very excited for everyone who will be involved in MobileArtCon and wish everyone the best for this weekend's activities, we are sure everyone will have a lot of fun.

Here is a bit more detail about the Conference from the Press Release, for more information and to see what it is all about check out the MobileArtCon website:

The free event features artist presentations, app demonstrations, and forums hosted by the world's most prolific artists and app developers. Topics range from publishing and printing options to theoretical discussions behind the evolution of digital art and its community. There will be hands on and interactive workshops including a Master Class demo by noted New York figurative painter David Kassan, whose Gizmodo-featured iPad demo became a 1 million-viewer internet sensation.

The conference also features multiple outside activities including a private artists' reception on October 22nd, plein-air painting sessions throughout the city, and a large scale group exhibition, "Illuminated Touch", displaying artworks generated by the attending artists on October 24th. The exhibition is open to the public and will be held 7pm-10pm at Openhouse Gallery in Manhattan.

If you are fortunate enough to be attending, or are in New York this weekend and decide to drop in on the exhibition, do let us know what you thought, we would love to hear from you.

iPad Musicians Turn the Page - Wirelessly. Here's How.

So, you are learning to play a song on your instrument of choice and you are just getting into the flow of the piece when you have to take your hands, or at least a hand, off the instrument to turn the sheet music, interrupting your progress and throwing off your pace. If the sheets are loose leafed pages you can also end up inadvertently tipping the whole stack off your music holder and on to the floor (or is that just us?).

Even if you have 'gone digital' and loaded your sheet music or tabs onto your iPad, you still have to pause right in the middle of a phrase and turn the page by swiping or tapping the iPad screen.

Masterdaelion is an app that aims to help you solve this problem. The strap line on the website reads 'Focus on the essence of music' and the developers aim to help you do this by providing a wireless page turning function within a sheet music displaying app.

You will need:

  • An iPhone with Bluetooth enabled
  • An iPad, also with Bluetooth enabled
  • Some sheet music loaded into the Masterdaelion app (in the common PDF format) via iTunes File Sharing.
  • A moveable limb or body appendage that you can wave in front of the iPhone (or someone to do this for you)

You must have an iPad and an iPhone, each with a copy of the Masterdaelion app installed (a one-off purchase for both devices as it is Universal).

After linking the iPhone via Bluetooth to your iPad, the app uses the camera in the iPhone as a motion detector basically. As soon as something moves across the iPhone's field of view it tells Masterdaelion on your iPad to turn the page.

The iPhone simply needs to be pointed at something fairly plain, such as a wall or the floor, so that it can detect when an object enters the frame.  The video below shows an early demo of the app in use, and why you might want to use it too.

We thought this was a creative use of the Bluetooth pairing and a nice way to integrate the iPhone and iPad, but we are not sure about the price at $20.99 (£12.49).

Frankly, for the functionality it provides, although unique, we think that is far too much to charge and will probably prevent a lot of people buying it, especially if they are students with limited iTunes credits.

The good news is there is a Free Lite version of Masterdaelion in the app store, so you can try it out first. If you decide you really need it, then you can go ahead and get the full version of Masterdaelion knowing what you are paying for and you have not wasted any money if you don't like it.

We want your thoughts, have you tried Masterdaelion (Lite or Full versions)? What do you think? Are there any alternatives? Let us know in the comments below.

More Friday Fun: Missing Vinyl Records? Try this on your iPad!

The problem with digital music is that there is nothing physical to connect with, apart from the device you are playing it on.

If you go back as far as tapes or even Vinyl records you will no doubt remember reading the liner notes and staring at the artwork held in your hands, whilst listening to your new album and making the neural connections between them.

That is the philosopy behind ReVinyl a new app for the iPad (and iPhone) from DJ and vinyl collector Christian Faber.  It sounds like rather a grandiose premise for a music quiz, but here is what Christian says about his reasons for developing ReVinyl:

...I sometimes miss the meditative ritual of putting on some wax, studying the cover and diving into the music. Taking the time out to just listen when your vinyl hunt is over and the prey is brought back to the collection.

The convenience of buying digital music makes it almost too easy. Trawling through thousands and thousands of records in innumerable record stores taught me the magic of discovering new and old music in a random and chaotic way. The record cover visuals seduce and have a symbiotic relationship with the sound of the music, and vice versa. Revinyl aims to reconnect this bond between the album cover and the music inside. Discovering new music should be fun and what better way to have fun than using and expanding your music knowledge.

Playing the Game

The game itself is quite fun to play in single player mode, this is where you see the albums represented by the cover art, thrown on top of each other on a desk, and you can pick them up, move them around and select the one you are hearing.  

This is the 're-discovery' mode of the game and relies on you knowing the song and the cover art for that album (sometimes you get more than one album from the same artist). You hear a few seconds snippet of the song at a random point in the track and the faster you answer the more points you get with the bonus question adding to your score.

The game is best when played as a multiplayer, which on the iPhone is a bit fiddly, but the larger iPad screen should allow four players comfortably.

In 'PartyMode' each player has a different coloured section of the screen and you hit your section as soon as you know the song. First one to hit their button gets a stab at answering the question. You get to choose how many questions and which level (1-5) you want to play at.

You can turn off certain Categories in the settings before a PartyMode game, so your audio books and Children's music doesn't appear in the game, but our iTunes libraries are not that organised so it didn't work for some tracks. Mary Poppins still made an appearance next to Guns N' Roses in our quizzes.

We think it would be better if you could base the quiz on certain playlists as well, which are easier to set up in iTunes to exclude albums or artists as well as genres.

We liked the graphical elements, which are minimalistic, clean and modern looking, making the game easily accessible.

Shows Potential

It is the future developments which are most interesting about this app though.  Here is what is planned for future versions:

  • Connect with other players via WiFi/Bluetooth
  • Share music to create quizzes
  • Access the iTunes music store (presumably previews) to create quizzes
  • Share customised quizzes with others
  • Discover music and purchase it immediately 

We are not sure Apple will allow some of this, especially access to the iTunes previews, but if he can deliver on that promise Christian will definitely have a winner on his hands. We just hope it doesn't take too long to update the app with these features as they will greatly enhance the value of this app.

If you are curious, there is a video of the iPhone version of the game running at the site if you want to check it out first. ReVinyl is available now for just $0.99 (59p) in the app store and it is definitely worth that price for multiplayer fun on the iPad.

How to get Audio into your iPad

There is nothing more certain than Apple Geeks trying to use Apple kit for things it is not meant to be used for.

We have experimented a little bit with Apple's Camera Connection Kit (CCK) and audio input to the iPad. The potential is certainly there for fairly clean audio input, with audio output from the headphone socket for monitoring.

You may have heard of OctoPod, now named StudioMini, an iPhone multitrack recording app with built in drum samples. There is an iPad optimised version now, StudioMini XL, with 7 recordable tracks (compared to the iPhone version's 3). We have used the iPhone version and it is a nice app and the drum samples are useful to have to hand for formulating song ideas or recording a whole song without worrying about recording a drum setup.

The developer of StudioMini/XL is himself a professional musician with a wealth of recording experience and he has been experimenting with different ways of recording to the iPad and iPhone using StudioMini, but the principles can be applied to any audio recording app on the iOS devices.

Thankfully for us, he has recorded a series of videos and posted them to YouTube to share his research, including one on using the iRig (not recommended without some sort of amp modeliing). In the video below he is demonstrating how you can use the CCK with a Griffin iMic, a mixer and an assortment of cables to record audio, in this case a guitar, on your iPad.

We found the whole series really interesting, as will anyone else grappling with the best way to record instruments and vocals on their iPad, but if you have tried anything else and it works for you, do let us know about it in the comments.

Friday Fun: First Ever iPad-only StudioTrack Made Song


Spanish band Jubilee (MySpace link with lots of Flash on the page) have made this very nice looking video to show how they recorded their song 'The Preacher' using just their iPads, the built-in microphone and recording-studio-in-a-box app StudioTrack from Sonoma Wire Works.

It is a lovely song and very impressive sounding given the way it was recorded, so we thought we would share it with you before we go off into the weekend.

We will be posting our thoughts on StudioTrack very soon so if you have used StudioTrack on your iPad and want to let us know what you thought, either email us using the link to the right of your screen or leave a comment below. We may even use your comment in the review when we post it next week.

Friday Fun: "Eye of the Tiger" - Made on an iPad

You may have seen this already, but we loved this and wanted to share it with you.  Jordan Hollender (Flash only portfolio site), a New York based commercial photographer and all-round creative artist, has produced this humorous video to accompany Scott Harris' cover of 'Eye of the Tiger'.  It was created as part of a promotional exercise for commercial production company Zbabam Productions (another Flash based portfolio site).

Of note for us though is that all of the music was created using iPad music apps, and then the video was shot with Canon DSLRs (a 5D Mk II and 7D) over a couple of days and edited in Apple's Final Cut Pro. 

We have been banging the drum (pun intended) for music creation on the iPad since we started this blog, and here is another fine and fun example of what can be accomplished with a few apps and a very healthy dose of creativity.

What do you think?

Gorillaz in your iPad


We like creative use of technology, especially when it involves the iPad, and so we were intrigued to see the rather 'animated' band Gorillaz produce an iPad (and iPhone) app that ties in to the promotional ecosphere around their third album, Plastic Beach, released in March this year.

There is a lot of content on the Gorillaz site to draw people in to their slightly bonkers universe including games, music and video. Now they have managed to extend their reach to iOS device users with Escape to Plastic Beach for iPad.

It uses the glider vehicle concept to transport the band member Murdoch around Plastic Beach with a chase theme, hazards to avoid, a little bit of shoot-em-up and some puzzle solving too throughout the eight '3D' levels of the game.

What is clever about this though, besides the obvious band members featured in the game, is the soundtrack to the game which of course is Gorillaz' own music. Hearing it in the background can either bring in new fans or encourage current fans to listen again, keeping the Gorillaz brand fresh in their minds.  A nice way to keep people involved in the band's universe.

As far as the iPad visuals go, they look great and the game makes good use of the iPad's control system. For just £1.19 ($1.99) it is a fun and entertaining distraction, especially if you already like the band and their music.

There have been a few game tie-ins from other bands but none have come up with anything so original as a complete, animated environment to host their fans in, so hats off to Gorillaz for their inventive creativity on this one.

The video below from YouTube user stuartdredge gives us a look at the first few minutes of gameplay from first launch.  Take a look: