Mobile music creation on Apple's iOS devices

Posts tagged ‘ios music’

Journey to Pluto

New Horizons  Pluto 

I have some new music just released. It’s a suite of four soundscapes created as an homage to the people who built, maintain and operate the NASA New Horizon spacecraft.


New sounds for iSymphonic Orchestra

The developer Crudebyte has added a new IAP for the iSymphonic Orchestra app.  The “Arpa Sound Set” includes 15 presets of some interesting instruments and combination of instruments.

I have posted a sound app demo on YouTube ( see below) covering the new sound pack; and this,video includes a bit of an unfinished song in the form of a music video, this uses several of the new presets as perhaps a better example of the sounds.


Be seeing you

— Bourne 07Jun15



 Alchemy Synth is back! 


Alchemy restored — wonders and miracles in the App Store.  

These past few days has been an exciting time for many iOS musicians. We’ve had a couple of very special, new apps hit the App Store, and a near miracle occurred with the return of Alchemy Synth.  

As it was a tragedy, I will mention Alchemy Synth first. Hooray — Alchemy has returned to the App Store. This has been my favorite music creation app, a real go-to app for me over the last three years. Well, the app developers, Camel Audio, shuttered their doors (went under and closed shop a few months back), and the app was pulled from the App Store.  Well, however news had surfaced that Apple bought them and that by June or July there would be some answers for the app owners.


This is a big deal for many fans of this synth app because without an entry in the App Store, restoring previous in app purchases was very difficult if not impossible for some. And heck just getting the app on say, a new device, was near impossible as well. But today there is an App Store update and the update info states that it is all about restoring the previous IAPs. I am doing exactly that on my iPad-mini retina where just five days ago I had deleted Alchemy to get back badly needed storage space. It was the advent of a new app, or a couple of them actually, that allowed me to feel comfortable with deleting Alchemy from one of my iDevices.


New apps and loads of new sounds 

Korg made a surprise released of the iM1 synth workstation app just days after KV331 Audio released their highly anticipated Synthmaster app.  

Synthmaster for iPad is similar to Alchemy in many regards; they both come from existing desktop software synths, both offer a synth player app, not a true synth, for iOS. Both are initially free with available pro upgrades and IAPs for sound packs. I do like Synthmaster quite a bit In the short time I have played with it, even though the app had a bit of trouble at launch and needs some fixes and a new UI. However, the sounds are brill.

Just as I was getting used to Synthmaster; Korg released the iM1 synth workstation app. Again, an app that comes from the desktop, but even better in that they emulate the real hardware from the widely sold Korg M1 synth workstation. This app offers a couple of inexpensive sound packs (emulating the memory cards that were used in the hardware…back in the day). With the IAPs there are more than 1,800 instrument sounds. Now, many sounds throughout the cards are a bit redundant, but they are very good, high quality sounds. But it gets even better.



Korg’s iM1 offer some unique performance options including built in Kaos pads, a chord player, multi-layered sounds, tweakable parameters, and more. But maybe the neatest trick is that iM1 is available as a new instrument from within Korg’s fantastic Gadget app. It is a great, and for me, a needed addition to Gadget.

Each of these apps in their unique way, provide for me an inspiring music making environment. Once the inspiration turns to perspiration, with both Gadget and Alchemy, as examples, I can easily take the music, and the MIDI data files out and get those into a DAW (desktop or iPad) for further recording, mixing, and mastering.

Paving the way

For iOS musicians, the ability to create full sounding renderings from our compositions, has become a bit easier, and the quality of generated sounds is really top notch. As one further example of my view that iOS is a serious music production platform let us consider this from the desktop world.  A recent poll of desktop music software users rated the 50 best desktop software synthesizer plug-ins and three of those I recognized as having a version on iOS. And they are: 
Arturia-SEM – #21. I have the iOS iSem app and am quite fond of it.

Z3TA+ – #14. I do not own the iOS app, but it is a high-rated, and much loved synth.

SynthMaster – #2. Synthmaster, the synth is number two for desktop users, that is cool news. For iOS we have the Synthmaster player app, a player of preset sounds…fantastic sounds that someone else designed and tweaked…I love it, since I don’t have much time for that stuff.


* I should also mention that #30 on the list is the Fab Filter Twin 2 synth which is coming to iOS as a part of the future Auria Pro upgrade.

The thing that really strikes me here is seeing iOS get even more seasoned software developers porting their work over…it is a growing trend. There are rumors in the air of even more coming.  Also to mention is how some apps have gone the other way, porting from iOS to the desktop as a plug-in.  Again this is nothing new, several iOS music apps also exist in a similar form on the desktop, such as Nano Studio, Sunvox, Crystal Synth; all very good software music tools. But the difference it seems is that larger music software developer shops are coming on board to iOS in larger numbers (admittedly, KV331 Audio is not a big firm, but they are not a 1 or 2 person shop either…or they have a lot of other resources).  But these are known entities, and it feels really good to see these quality apps coming and knowing there is a big bright future for iOS music making.

There’s been a lot of app news and fun things happening recently, but the most important question is: what does this do for my music?   Well, I hope to answer that soon with some groovy new tunes. 

Be seeing you 
– Bourne 28May15 



App demo — Beatwave 

Good day, 

My first Instructional app demo is up on YouTube.  I used a really cool app called “Explain Everything” to make the bulk of the video.  

Beatwave, version 2.5 from developer Collect3, is a pattern based sequencer that can be used to make a wide variety of tunes…from EDM to Jazz.  It’s a Free universal app requiring iOS 7 and up and is a 77.2 MB download.  Even though it is a sequencer it does not have MIDI, however it is Audiobus and Inter App Audio comparable.  Various in-app purchases (IAP) are available and the video demo uses the full Pro upgrade ($9.99 at this time).  

The quality of the sampled sounds are darn good and it’s a fun and now fully functional music making app.  This app has a long history and sat dormant for a while as iOS music making gained large strides.  Last summer (2014) the app received a huge upgrade to 2.0 with other enhancements and fixes is now up to 2.5 (I used the Beta build, version for the app demo). 

As it is a free app, it’s worth a look, especially if you are interested in similar apps such as Auxy or Medly, which are also pattern based sequencers…and all are free on the App Store. 

I had to split the video due to the size, according to a pop up message when I tried to upload to YouTube from my iPad.  Anyway, here they are: 

Beatwave part-1 
Beatwave part-2 

Be seeing you

— Bourne 06May15

Caravan — the album 


New music: 

I’ve released an album called Caravan.  It s available  on Bandcamp:

And I made a music video of one of the songs — it’s on YouTube:

As I state in comments on my Bandcamp page, this concept album started with one song, Caravan Of Spice, which I made last year (and was featured so kindly by Chip at  I had done some Wiki research on the anicent spice trade in conjunction with creating that song…and well…you now how one link leads to another.

There is a lot more to the history of the ancient trade routes than many realize.  Many more parts of the world were connected by various trade routes than I had imagined.  The most famous of the routes is probably the Silk Road and I was surprised to learn of many others, such as the Amber Road, the Royal Road, and the Grand Trunk Road (not a band name).  All of this information provided a great basis for inspiration and a place where I let my imagination run.  

Near the end of 2014 I had set a goal to release this album in February and hey, I almost got It here in March.  A few life setbacks caused some time delays but nothing too bad.  The real delay was the dreaded “last minute changes” that I had to implement.  Once I had all of the pieces finished I listened to them back to back, as a whole story.  Unsatisfied, I decided to reshape the album.  

I cut out some songs, and recorded some new instrument parts or changed some effects in other songs, but nothing too drastic.  

At the time that I reworked the Caravan songs, I had started to explore some very cool new music apps.  As it turns out; the song, Sahara, was made with one of those new apps: BeatHawk by UVI,  and it was the final addition to the album (song number 3).  And I have really started to like that app, a lot. 

The idea of a camel caravan dramatically traversing desert terrain is a romantic one in our western brains; the reality was quite different and often extremely harsh.  I’ve attempted to express all of these various ideas and emotions through the works on the album.  

The sounds, all created from various iOS instrument, synth, and drum apps, are intended to evoke a feeling or provide for a mood only.  I’ve not tried to be historically or culturally accurate in the use of instruments and sounds; as evidenced by my song, The Silk Road, which features a simulated ancient Chinese stringed instrument (using the  iGuzhend app) and Japanese Taiko drums (via DrumJam).   I just liked the combined sounds…





What is next?

You just released an album and a music video…now what will you do? 

I am not going to Disneyland…

always seem to have a backlog of tunes in various states; from just started to complete.  There are new apps and new iOS interface and storage technologies to explore.  I have ideas on making more themed works…and on and on… 

There is not enough enough time remaining in my life to accomplish everything that I can conceive — so setting priorities is the first order of business.  I already know what is up next (most likely)…a music video of a song that I wrote last autumn.  This will be a larger project; more detailed, more elaborate, and longer than any video I’ve done to date.  No estimates for a completion date though.  


Here is to making music, right now, wherever you are…

Be seeing you,

— 02Apr14 







iOS Music at SXSW 

Busy Times

SXSW Music.  March 16-21, 2015 — Austin, Texas.  

I had a very interesting week immersed in the SXSW Music conference.  I met many great people, heard some really good music, and learned quite a bit at various panels.   The highlight of the week occurred on Friday (March 20), at the Music Gear Expo where there was a decent sized iOS Music presence.  

For iOS compatible hardware there wasn’t much beyond a couple of class compliant audio interfaces (Yamaha has a couple of new ones that look good), except for Jamstik the guitar/MIDI controller.  The guys from Jamstik did a fun demo of their very interesting controller using iPad with GarageBand and BeatHawk; this was at fairly high volume over a good PA system and it was great to hear those apps in that context.  Both GB and BH sounded very good!  

The guys from Jamstik were really great to talk with and are enthusiastic about their product and iOS music making in general.  They have a new Kickstarter campaign for the next version (Bluetooth LE) starting on March 25…check it out:


The Highlight Moment: 

Interfacing with iOS developers and music peeps in geneal was fantastic, but the highlight of the whole week was a really nice chat that I had with the fabulous musician Mr. Adrian Belew.  He is a super great guy; smart, friendly and genuine.  He was at SXSW representing his two iOS apps: Flux by Belew, and Flux: FX.  Both of these app are amazing and unique.  (I must admit that I don’t have the Flux by Belew app….yet.  But Flux:FX is amazing indeed!) 

When Mr. Belew handed me a custom (Flux) iPad cover along with his autograph (in above picture)  I was quite delighted.  I asked if he’s used Flux:FX in his own music production and he said that he’s recently been recording his vocals through it, and that some of the sounds are really amazing.  I am truly inspired and plan on experimenting with running my voice through Flux:FX just to see what can happen.  (I just hope that I don’t blow my flux capacitor in the process).  

Nearby the Flux setup were reps from the iOS app, NoteTracks, to whom I proudly showed their app was already on my iPhone.   Also near was one of only three US employees of PropellerHead,  who was also a super nice fellow.  He mentioned that a new Propellerhead iOS app is in the works, but he couldn’t provide any details other than that it would, of course, work with Figure and Take.  While I had his ear I lobbied to get more more jazzy or Chill type sounds into Figure; he agreed with the idea but said its not easy to influence what sounds they put into an app.  

We talked about various music apps and then I wondered what I could do with Figure’s output run through Flux:FX.  So following that, I made a goal to create something interesting with this app combo.  So far, I have some very interesting results but not much that is musical.  I’ll keep at it…Flux:FX can be rather deep as there a lot of options including a sequencer (yes an effects app with a built in sequencer…very cool).  

Mostly NASA Swag from SXSW Interactive

I went to a music conference and all I got was NASA stuff?

NASA had a booth (it was a large area, not sure what you call it…), for SXSW Interactive, and Tuesday was Convergence day where Film, Interactive, and Music share in panels and various activities.  I attended a presentation on Astrophysics and Hollywood showing how films such as Hubble 3D and others are created not just from images but along with various bits of raw data derived from sources other than visible light (x-Rays, microwaves, etc).  It was a fascinating discussion and I was especially interested since NASA and filmmaking are two of my most favorite subjects following music.

The key idea that sparked me to attend SXSW this year was a post last year at asking folks to vote for a panel to be included in SXSW.  Mobile Music Geekout – Marketing, Content & Hot Tech was the title and those are subjects of great interest to many iOS musicians.  It turned out to be a very informative panel by very intelligent and sharp-witted presenters.  And I must thank Olsin from the panel for being such a nice guy; now if I can just find where you posted that picture of us that was taken in the Irish pub, that would be great!  LOL. 

I was hoping to put the previously mentioned song “Figure In Flux” (I just now gave it that title), here for streaming but since the song does not yet exist in a useable form I was going to offer another one instead.  However, Now I see how the recent WordPress enhancement that makes creating a blog entry a lot easier also seems to have removed my ability to add a song file/audio player to my post.   If I have to figure out the HTML code to get that working…well…it probably won’t happen.

New Album

My new album, Caravan, will be available soon at Bandcamp.  I just have some finishing touches for documentation and album/song artwork and then the act of uploading the song files…which has to be done from a PC not my iPad where the songs reside.  Arrrrr!   Oh the hassles we deal with sometimes! 

I will post the release announcement in forums and emails as soon as I have it all uploaded and ready to go.  

Be seeing you,

— Bourne 


Alchemy Mobile – R.I.P.

I’ve been away from the iOS music making scene for a few weeks and upon my return I was treated with the sad and quite shocking news that Camel Audio Limited had closed its business. Huh? Yep, they are closed. The Alchemy Mobile app is no longer available at the App Store, nor can one download any IAP’s for the sound packs, etc.


Today, I have used some PC utilities to backup the Alchemy app and the data from one of my iOS devices. The standard utility, iFunbox, did not work for the IPA package creation, so I used iMazing. I hope it works and that I can fully restore the app if (when) needed. But I don’t know and I don’t want to find out the hard way just yet.

Alchemy was and still is my all-time favorite iOS music making app. So this news hits me very hard, as it has with many other folks. Alchemy often helps spark ideas when I’m stuck, or simply helps me to start a new composition as I get inspired by one of its many brilliant sounds. And I suspect the app will remain as my top go-to music app, at least for a while.

The real problem lies in the future. We’ve seen iOS updates hurt, or kill apps before so it seems like it will happen to Alchemy at some point if it doesn’t get updated (perhaps the software will be transferred to new owners and there will still be a future, but that’s just wishful thinking based on nothing but my own wishful thinking).

More apps!

On a brighter note (pun intended), though I have been away from the online iOS music scene for a bit, I have remained active in making new music and acquiring new apps. Thanks to discounted iTunes gift cards that I acquired, and then gift cards that I received as Xmas gifts, I was able to take advantage of many holiday app sales. Here’s a list of apps new to my collection, many of which I’ve not played with much.

Oriental Strings from Crudebyte (got it recently at 80% off the list price).

Sopranotron from Omenie Limited. The only recent app that I bought not on-sale, but certainly worth it…beautiful soprano sounds in the Mellotron app format.

Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure from SuperChop Games (in Austin, TX). This is not a music making app but a musical game of sorts, and quite wonderful. Highly recommended for anyone with an iPad. I even gifted it to my girlfriend.

MiMix – Mixer for Audiobus from TTr Games. I have not incorporated this yet into a workflow yet, but I already have plans for making good use of it.

Bismark bs-16i from Shun Murabayashi. This is a Soundfont file player for iOS. Somewhere on my PC are some gigabytes of soundfonts, or there were; but easy enough to go search the interwebs for free soundfonts as needed. Note that the app comes with some pretty decent soundfonts built in.

Combo Organ Model V from Insideout ltd. It’s okay, not quite as expressive as I would hope but it has some good Combo organ sounds.

GuitarCapo+ from TonApp AS. I am not a guitar player but the app was way too cheap to ignore, plus it has some nice guitar sounds that I can utilize.

FM4 from Primal Audio. At the 99 cents intro price it was a steal at the App Store, and a no brainier to buy. It’s a really good FM synth too.

Sector from Kymatica (one of the best ever developers, Jonatan Liljedahl). This is a very different sound EFX processor app and it’s great. There is much to learn with this, not so much how it operates necessarily but rather how to use the output of what it can create.

Pro MIDI — a midi editor and sequencer which I haven’t used much, yet. So far it looks pretty good.

Korg Gadget from Korg. This app made a huge splash upon its initial release in 2014, but since it is primarily for creating electronic music and has a fairly hefty price tag (normal $39.99), I initially skipped this. For the holidays it was on-sale and with an iTunes gift card from my niece (thanks again Mic, very much) that covered the cost, I didn’t hesitate to scoop it up. I am very glad that I did. The Korg Module app, which I had already obtained, works within Gadget and adds its high quality piano, organ and synth sounds to an already impressive sound selection within Gadget.

Laplace Resonator Synth from iceWorks — a very robust synth that produces unique sounds…quite lovely.

Historic Harpsichords – Ruckers 1628 from tempo rubato (makers of NLog synth). This one wowed me. I have always loved the harpsichord and this app has rich sounds and as authentic as I can tell; they actually sampled the Ruckers 1628 instrument, which is one of the most gorgeous looking musical instruments ever built my humans.

Final Touch from Positive Grid Inc. A mastering app, my 2nd one but the price was too low to ignore. I haven’t mastered any tunes yet with this app since I still use Mastering from iMusicAlbum, and this new one seems to have a bit of a learning curve.

Korg Module from Korg. Mentioned above with Korg Gadget, this app produces high quality piano, organ, electronic piano, and some synth pad type sounds. Gorgeous sounds, I really like this one — a lot!

New Music

Okay sure — app buying is a disease or addiction for some of us, but still it is not difficult to justify many of these purchases. Especially true since I had some free money with which to purchase! And, so far, I am happy with these buying decisions, and in some cases way more than just happy! I have proof too: several new songs made with some new apps as follows (on Soundcloud)

This song, The Palace, is dedicated to the website and podcast. It was created with IOS apps: Ruckers 1628, Laplace Synth, Auxy: Beat Studio, and Cubasis

The next one is a Piano Ballad that features the apps: Korg Module, Alchemy, and Cubasis.

I have another YouTube music video currently in production along with a few more tunes to debut soon. Also hoping to complete my Caravan album within the next month. Busy times ahead and I hope to post again real soon.

Be seeing you…
– Bourne 17Jan15