Mobile music creation on Apple's iOS devices

Another Collab. Part 2


Another seemingly innocent comment that I posted online has again pulled me into an international collaborative music project. This time around the project spans an entire album rather than just one great song (see (SynthMaster Love by Better Than Epic ).

I am pleased and honored to be working with Doug from The on a new musical journey. Doug had acquired the Vangelis album of experimental music called Beaubourg (which was unknown to me), and posted a Vlog review of it. This attracted my interest, and once I heard some of it (found on YouTube), I noted that I liked it, in a comment to his post. Well, the next thing you know Doug offered it up and then we started creating some mad sonic pieces with insane sounds, and crazy dynamics.

There is a lot freedom in working without form and structure; no time signatures, no beats per minute, and no concern with scales and keys. The danger, of course, is becoming overly self indulgent, but I think we have both approached this with a reasonable amount of humility and with a sense of true sonic exploration.

But, is it music?
The difference between music and noise, is that music is organized sound while noise is unorganized sound. Okay, so almost anything and everything can be music (or noise). To truly define music, much like the perception of beauty, we must look into the heart of the beholder. Some find the avant-garde to their liking and some do not; those that do just have a different sense of art which is no better and no worse than anyone else. Since a young age I’ve been attracted to music that was on the edge…and not just electronic music. I also enjoyed band and orchestra pieces with odd time signatures, and different instrumentation. That probably explains my attraction and love for jazz and progressive rock.

So, the forthcoming album is music, to us at least; others may disagree. To make this music has been a joy, a privilege, and an honor. Doug had been very creative in leading this off, and very supportive of the work I’ve sent to him. From the first pieces that he sent and my responses, we seem to mesh; we’re on the same wavelength (yes, pun).

I was tentative at first (still am somewhat), to try and add anything to the brilliant chaos of what I heard. I realized that I had to go beyond my normal self and my self perceived limitations. I stretched some part in my creative brain and really sunk myself into what Doug had created.

My earliest results were accepted without complaint or criticism and that really helped my confidence. Doug’s creations got me fired up, my early additions pushed me forward and then I came up with the basis of a piece called Gold Glitter. It was just a few days into the project and we were already cooking (with gas).

How we do it

There are about 4,750 miles between our physical locations but only seconds on the interweb-net. We simply use email to communicate and the Dropbox service and apps to move our files back and forth. I showed in a video demo in the previous blog post how I worked with a file from Doug in the iPad app, Cubasis, but I could just as easily import that into other apps or even desktop software. My parts are sent back separately via Dropbox and Doug can easily import that into his recording software of choice. He then can make changes, add additional parts, or include effects.

I have taken this opportunity to be more of an explorer of sounds, rather than my usual approach of having an idea for a sound and trying to find it or make it. I choose apps to use for specific parts of tracks and although that didn’t always turn out, most of the time I stayed within the first app chosen. This allowed me to explore more than usual within some various apps like Crystal Synth, which is a favorite but had been under utilized in my creations.

For my tracks the process is simple enough. Example: on a piece that Doug started, I listened a number of times until I felt immersed in the sonic mayhem, and when that happened, I would get a sense of where to place new sounds. I would then launch a randomly chosen sound generating app (usually a synth) just to see what could happen, rather than thinking what might happen. I played the original track and concentrated on just one section of the piece. Then I would go through the various app sounds and when something was going to fit, I would know it almost instantly. There is no science to this sound selection, it was all totally based on the feel (and some random chance).

Doug and I have been quite happy with what each has contributed and there has been little to no discussion about individual parts. This is not a typical project, but certainly one where we seem to understand intuitively what to do next. At the time of this writing we have eleven complete tracks and are looking to add a few more to complete the album. There is no estimated release date, but based on our rate of progress it will be available fairly soon.

Apps, apps, apps



Here’s a list of some of the iOS apps that I have used,so far, on this project:

Recording: Audibus, AUM, Cubasis, and AudioShare

Sounds: Cubasis, Crystal Synth, SynthMaster Player, Alchemy, Animoog, iSem, Drumjam, iM1, Module, and Thor.

EFX: VoiceRack, Aufx Dub, Crystalline, DFX, and Cactus Chorus.

Additional sounds from Yamaha MM6 keyboard workstation, some royalty free loops, and my voice. Doug used a huge variety of desktop software that hopefully will be chronicled at some point.

The album released will be announced here, of course, and I plan to have at least one music video to accompany the album.

Be seeing you
–Bourne 21Apr16


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