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Entries in Piano (7)

Video: Stunning Audio Samples in SampleTank

When we raved about the professional quality audio samples in IK Multimedia's new SampleTank app (still 50% off until 13th November), we wanted to show you how good these sound, but to be honest we don't have the skills. Fortunately, IK do, and they have added a page of video demos showing just how amazing their SampleTank app sounds.

Future Tech

Sometimes, we are guilty of taking all this for granted but remember, this is all happening on a portable tablet device, a computer that you can take with you wherever you go and plug it in to any MIDI keyboard via things like the iRig MIDI. Future-tech of our childhood is here!

On with the Demos

We have included a few of our favourites video demos below, to see the rest check out the page at IK Multimedia. For now though, grab a pair of headphones and listen to the quality of these samples, we think you will be impressed.

The nylon guitar and Sax sounds in this one are amazing, they sound better than our real nylon guitar

Beautiful piano sounds in this one

Video Demo: Casio Keyboards, iPad MIDI and GarageBand

Here's a video demo that shows just how good the sound modelling is in Apple's agressively priced GarageBand for iPad.

The video, made for Australian music store Kosmic Sound, also shows how well the MIDI integration works with external keyboards on the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit.

We thought it was pretty impressive, what do you think?

Appstore Link: GarageBand for iPad

Video Find: Casio Pro Keyboard, iPad 2 and GarageBand MIDI demo

Ever wondered what GarageBand for iPad sounds like in the hands of a pro?

Here's a video demo from B's Music Shop in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. In the video Jeff Dunmire from Casio demonstrates just how good the $4.99 GarageBand app sounds on the iPad.

It made us smile!

Teach Little Ones To Play Piano on the iPad

Fancy giving your toddler a head start on their musical creativity? Juno's Piano aims to make teaching the piano to your little ones a fun and easy process. We take a quick look at the app and let you know if you should buy it.

Here in the UK, the Juno Baby brand isn't that well known, so I had no idea who Juno was when I first saw this app, despite having 3 and 5 year old kids.

The price of the app though and a desire to cultivate any musical creativity our young software testers may have, makes this a no-brainer. For $0.99 (59p) you can't go wrong with this app which children are sure to love.

How the app works

There are three ways to use Juno's Piano, or modes of play:

  1. Learn a Song
    Learn to play one of three Juno songs by following the keys pressed Juno jumps on to - a bit like the Simon game - but helped by the notes being highlighted in Pink one after the other during their go so they don't have to remember the sequence
  2. Play Together
    You play some notes and your little one plays them after - similar to above but you choose the notes
  3. Free Play
    As the name suggests, they can bang away at the keys while Juno dances and spins above the keyboard

At any time you can go back to the Home screen and jump into another mode. The app is fast and responsive, including playing notes on the keyboard (although one at a time, not polyphonic).

What the kids thought?

Even though they had never seen Juno before, the iPC kids loved seeing her jump around and talk them when they pressed the right keys whilst learning a song. It probably would have helped if they were familiar with the songs so that they could hear themselves playing something they knew.

There is a clever marketing trick here, because now they want to see more of Juno's world, I am saved only by the fact that the Juno stuff isn't currently easy to get hold of here in the UK. Having said that, the philosophy behind education through and by music is something we wholeheartedly support and for every Juno product purchased a music education DVD is given to children in need under their One for All program.

Things we liked

  • Constant encouragement from the Juno character and animated actions keeps children's attention
  • Pace of play is set by the child, they follow as quickly or slowly as they need to
  • Colourful design and graphics
  • Non-academic and fun way to learn
  • Price! Just $0.99 (59p)

Suggested improvements

  • The choice of songs in Juno's piano are limited to just three and likely familiar only to those who already know the Juno brand, more songs and perhaps better known ones would be appreciated
  • Keyboard is not polyphonic (not a major issue given the app's goals, but it would be nice to play more than one note at a time)
  • You can't turn Juno's voice over off on the Home menu or when first entering the modes, she says the same thing every time which can get a bit annoying, for the adults anyway. It would be good if we could tap on Juno to mute her momentarily or have a voiceover on/off button.

It feels a bit like nitpicking to be honest finding fault with an app this cute and inexpensive with such a great educational value, so we recommend you go and get this app if you have little ones. Our kids certainly enjoyed it and for fans of Juno Baby and now Juno Jr. it is probably a must have.

Sheet Music on Steroids now on your iPad - Etude for iPad released

We let you know back in mid-March that Wonder Warp Software were planning to release an iPad specific version of their brilliant piano tutor software Etude.  Well yesterday the Etude app was updated to a Universal app that will support both the iPhone/iPod Touch and your iPad, with device specific user interface and features.  

The iPad version looks really nice and they have maximised the use of the screen space to show much more of the score at the same time.

Even better, if you already own the Etude iPhone version, your iPad version is free! Otherwise, the app will only cost you $4.99 (£2.99), which is a very good price when you consider that you can download all of the sheet music and songs to play for free, with premium, artist licensed songs coming soon.

Etude can be downloaded from the app store now, or you can see more information about the app and a video demo here.

There's more - Free Mac software 

If you are on a Mac and want something to help create chord progressions or use as a teaching aid, you can get a free copy of Wonder Warp's SimpleChord desktop app.  This software lets you look up piano chords and create chord progressions of your own, and supports an external midi keyboard too.

It also includes a midi export option for the chord progressions that you create in SimpleChord, and these midi files can then be used in Garageband very simply as a new track, ready for you to add the rest of your masterpiece, or just use it to practice with.

SimpleChord would normally cost you $12.95, so it is worth a tweet to spread the word. Details are here.

Making music with the iPad - Keyboards

One of the key creative areas taking the iPad app space by storm is music creation. We are not talking full blown songs written on the iPad necessarily, but that's not out of the question. In the few weeks since the iPad’s US launch we have seen a proliferation of synthesisers, piano simulators, DJ apps, stringed instrument emulators, drum kits, an Accordion app and even a Cat-voiced Piano (we kid you not).

Interestingly, Music Creation now has its own link on the US iTunes Store, so we are not the only ones who think this area of iPad app development is noteworthy. So with that, we present the first in an ongoing series of key app roundups for music creation on the iPad, first, we are looking at Keyboard/Synth apps.

 

Pianist Pro

We have already posted about Pianist Pro, we thought it looked great and we were really impressed with the app’s features, especially with the built-in drum machine and Appregiator, but in the last week MooCowMusic have added MIDI export capabilities to Pianist Pro (so your musical creations can be sent to Garageband for example and enhanced and built upon on your desktop machine), data file export to Mac or PC, and fixed a few issues, so it is worth another look, or get the upgrade for free if you already have the app.

Check out the video below for more on Pianist Pro’s features, we think it is a viable alternative for those without an external keyboard, or who want to experiment and get their ideas down, even if you are not going to use it for actual recording of performances in your DAW.

 

 

Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD

If you don’t want, or need, all the features of Pianist Pro, you could try out the more straightforward Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD, made for the iPhone originally, and now optimised for the iPad in this version, this free app is fine for playing around with ideas, practicing or learning the notes on the keyboard, or for children to pick up and play with straight away. This link will take you to the app store where you can download the free app now. 

 

Magic Piano

You have probably heard of Magic Piano by Smule made specifically for the iPad, from the creators of innovative iPhone apps such as Ocarina and Leaf Trombone. We mentioned it yesterday and there are lots of videos on YouTube with people playing a variety of songs in the app. Magic Piano takes a slightly different approach to music making on the iPad.

What blew us away is the creativity and imagination that has gone into the app. There are different ways to play the tunes including a circular or spiral keyboard, or users can play along with preloaded songs by tapping along with ‘beams of light’, a little bit like TapTap, but more elegant.

There are different difficulty modes so that, even with no musical ability, you can start tapping away on the screen and create a pleasing sound with the ‘No Fail’ mode. We think this is brilliant, a way for anyone to create ‘music’ on the iPad, have fun, and impress their friends, without the technical barriers of making a reasonable sound that could be presented by a straight forward keyboard simulator.

If you are a bit of a keyboard wizard already, you can challenge yourself with the ‘Game Mode’, where you have to tap the screen in the correct place, or your song sounds out of tune.

But the really unique and creative function of the app is the Duet mode. The Magic Piano app can hook you app with another user from anywhere around the world, and you can play a song together in a virtual duet. Or if you want to, you can just browse the globe and listen to other people playing duets.

Whilst it is not a serious music creation app, the fun factor and accessibility for those who are not musically trained, and the capability of the app to provide challenges to the more advanced user, makes this a recommendation from us. Even better, Magic Piano is on offer at the moment for just $0.99 (or 59p). A genuine bargain!

 

Synth

When we were kids we loved that scene in Ferris Beuller when he used the synth to make coughing, sneezing and snoring sounds to fool his (extremely gullible) parents that he was ill in bed.  We even talked about doing this on our iPads before the launch.  Now we can, with our final app in this brief round-up.

Synth by Retronyms (the people that brought us StudioTrack the awesome multi-track recorder for the iPad, amongst others) is a polyphonic synthesizer for the iPad based on a simulation of the traditional midi keyboard.

This sits on top of the sample database from the DopplerPad app that Retronyms made for the iPhone/iPad. There are 40+ instrument sounds supplied, Delay and Distortion knobs to tweak and a Mod wheel for some funky effects whilst playing. Of course, the most exciting thing about this app for us is the Sampler.

When we were younger, these synthesizers cost thousands of pounds and there was no chance we would ever be able to see or touch one, let alone own one, so to have this on the iPhone with DopplerPad and now the iPad with Synth means a great deal of retro fun for us.

At the start of the video demo below, if you listen carefully, you can hear the Sampler in action, and it makes the purchase of this app a given for us.

Whilst not a full blown Synthesizer that a pro might use, for getting the creative juices flowing and exploring sampling of real world sounds, we think this is a brilliant app, and at a price of just $0.99, it can’t hurt to download it now and start playing around with it, even if it is just to renact those Ferris Beuller nostalgia moments.

 

We hope you enjoyed this roundup and find at least one of the apps useful, but if you are using another keyboard app to create music on the iPad let us know in the comments.

In future posts we will be looking at Loop apps, Guitar apps, Drum pads, and others too, so if you have any suggestions for these or any other music creation apps, again let us know in the comments and we will consider using them in our roundups (giving you full credit of course).

Friday Fun: iPad in Live Classical Concert

There is no end to the creative uses for the iPad it seems. It can even be used in the austere and haloed halls of classical music concerts, sort of. Here's classical pianist Lang Lang amusing the audience in one of his encores by playing the most technically challenging Flight of the Bumblebee on his iPad.

Yes, we know he is playing it with two fingers using the awesome Smule 'Magic Piano' app (which was inspired by Lang Lang himself according to Smule), but it still sounds cool, and we reckon it might have sold a few more iPads too!

Check back later today for a full post on Magic Piano and other iPad music creation apps.