Capture for iPad Arrives – Drop Dead Simple App to Record With! (UPDATED)

Capture LargePresonus released a new app today that has high potential to make things simpler for us musicians. There are also a few things missing from the app that would make it a home run with everyone.

WHAT CAPTURE IS: The purpose of this app currently is simple – it gives you a super simple way to record with your iPad. This gives you a mobile recording studio that you can then take back to the computer and edit further.

WHAT CAPTURE ISN’T: A stand-alone recording app. It also is NOT a recording app to record from other iPad apps.

The app is Capture and it comes in two flavors – the FREE Version (Capture Duo Small IconPreSonus Capture Duo) and the $9.99 Version (Capture Small IconPresonus Capture). The only difference between the two is how many tracks you can record – free=2 tracks, not free=32 tracks. This is present #1 – by offering you the free version, PreSonus has just given you a way to get those simple, straightforward recordings you need. For instance, Choir Teachers always need accompaniment tracks, Band Directors always need accompaniment tracks and we would all like to be able to record ourselves playing or singing our music. Now we have a simple and mobile solution that is free.

The app is very straightforward to use. Start it up, start a new session, select whether or not you want to monitor what you are recording in the headphones, tap the record button and start the music. Take a look….

Capture1 Capture2

One technique they have used for this app is to make it very easy to select the interface you want to use. the app works with the built-in mic. It also works with audio interfaces like the newly released (but not available yet) PreSonus AudioBox iOne or the iTwo or any other MFi iPad interface. I used it with my Line6 SonicPort just fine. Trying to find this interface selection in other apps and on the desktop is always a huge search, even for me!

For recording it bears mention that I also appreciate the capability to set my input level so easily.

It is also imperative that I was able to adjust my pan settings. It really annoys me when I record my keyboard and it is not in stereo. With the Capture Duo app it was easy, tap the arrow to open the tray, swipe one track hard left and the other hard right. Now my ears were happy!

UPDATED SECTION HERE – Of course then I learned that if you tapped the little dot under the volume slider you can set the track to a stereo track! That means we can record two tracks of stereo! That means I can record in track 1 a piano keyboard part in stereo and then still have track two to record a stereo drum track as well! (Now see, SOME people would call that FOUR tracks!)

Here’s a picture of that….


Adjusting and editing the audio was very easy. Just do what seems to be the right multi-touch gesture and you are probably going to be in business. Tap to select, double tap to bring up a menu to Cut/Copy/Delete/Duplicate/Split at Cursor or tap then hold for a second then drag the audio to a new location.

PreSonus has been very focused with the purpose for this app currently – A mobile recording solution to use in conjunction with their other software that is easy to use. They hit the mark right on.

I’ve got a short video at the end of this post for you to see how easy it is to use this app. First though a couple of observations:

  1. This app HAS to be used with Studio One on a desktop as there is no other way to get your audio out of the app right now. Studio One is free though – PAY ATTENTION ALL OF YOU WHO USE THAT OTHER FREE AUDION RECORDING APP! Go download it, it’s free! BUT this is one extra step.
  2. The app REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs to get audioBus integration so we can use it to record other iPad apps! This would open up a HUGE door! (I suppose InterApp Audio would help too.) There is a huge number of iPad Musicians who are using the iPad and apps as a very real way of making music! What used to have to be done in professional studios, on equipment that cost thousands of dollars, is now being done with apps and an iPad.
  3. I can not wait to see where this app is a year from now!
  4. If you use one of the new AudioBox Interfaces – the iOne or iTwo you will have to the interface plugged into power.


and now a video to demonstrate…

3 iOS Apps That Make it Simple for Recording Your Music

Hokusai Big Icon reSonare Big Icon Take Big Icon

Musicians always have the desire to record our music, be it our own or that music we are listening to around us. They also have longed for a way to quickly capture musical thoughts and ideas that pop into our heads. Usually these ideas pop into our heads at the most inopportune times – on the train on the way to work, at work during lunch break, or maybe waiting in line. How do we capture those ideas quickly with a minimum of fuss?

Have you ever used Apple’s Voice Memos app because it is so straightforward and drop dead simple to use? Then you also were probably left with a desire for that app to offer just a little bit more!

This is going to be a simple and straightforward post about a few apps that are great options to simply record. We are not talking about apps like GarageBand and Cubasis, nope, just apps that let you record quickly and easily. They let you record one or more tracks, do a few basic edits and maybe have a few other “extras” like adding reverb or sharing.


App Around The Longest -
Hokusai Small IconHokusai (Free) – (Introduced on August 1, 2011) [Has both iPad and iPhone versions]

Newest App (Geared towards vocalists [or in my opinion, ANYONE] ) -
Take Small IconTake Creative Vocal Recorder (Free) – (Released July 10, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]

App Directed Towards Instrumentalists -
reSonare Small IconreSonare (Introduced April 15, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]


Hokusai Screen1HOKUSAI:
I love the way Hokusai allows you to interact with the audio on a touch interface. This app allows you to do multitrack recording and also allows you to edit that audio – trim the ends, cut, copy, paste, delete and you even have some filters and special effects! You can transfer the edited audio via USB, DropBox or use the Open In option to send to other apps.




Hokusai Edit Screen




Take Record ShotTAKE CREATIVE VOCAL RECORDER:Take 3 Tracks Shot
Takes the drop-dead simplicity of your voice memos and combines to with features custom tailored to vocalists (Or any musician, in my opinion) Propellerhead has released a wonderful app today that allows you to start recording right away, with the tap of just one button!

But it gives you just a few more options as well. There are three parts per song you can record, allowing for some harmonies or an instrumental track. There is the all important metronome too! This metronome is not Beethoven’s metronome though, it has some fun loops and beats to get you inspired to musical greatness. Then there are even some basic effects controls that let you control the Reverb/Delay added to your recording. This is important because once again we are recording with our iOS mic which records in mono. Propellerhead designed this app to work specifically with that scenario though and engineered the app to maximize the quality of those recordings.

Of course what would an app be these days without ways to share our musical explorations? FaceBook, Twitter and email all are covered here as well as sending through a message.

This is a beautiful looking app and joins a fine family of Propellerhead apps on the app store that you need to check out!

The family includes:

  • Figure ($0.99) - builds some great 3 part music. The tag reads, “Got 3 minutes to make some music?” If you don’t have this yet it’s a ton of fun! The kids love it because it is so easy to get some pretty rocking music out of!
  • Thor Polysonic Synthesizer ($15) - one of the best synth apps out there.
  • ReBirth for iPad ($15) – Legendary software reborn for iOS


reSonare iPhone ViewreSONARE:reSonare Musicians
For the “classical” musician to record themselves performing on their instruments. Has pre-sets for different instruments. So if you are recording a flute you would then select the Flute preset for optimal sound vs having the Piano preset selected. Also helps improve the mono recording you get by using the built-in microphone on iOS devices by giving you a stereo widening effect along with EQ and reverb. Gives you a one click step to mastering your mono recording into stereo with pseudo-stereo and specialization techniques. (Read that as – Sounds better than plain old, normal recordings!)

Professional Musicians helped develop the app settings and they also created guidelines for recording each instrument that you can read in the app.

Allows you to share via email, Wi-Fi, iTunes files haring, DropBox and my favorite for students, SoundCloud.

New Notation App (If you like Tabs) – Tabular Mobile

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 9.28.25 PM

Not sure if I missed this because I am not really a guitar and tabs person or if it just needs more publicity but the end of April a new app was released that is pretty awesome!

Chromatic Labs has developed Tabular Mobile: A modern tablature editor for Tabular OSX Small IconMac OSX and Tabular iOS Small IconiPad and I’m here to tell that it works very well, is easy to use and is a great starting point!

I have had to work with guitar players that just do not read music in the past and sometimes it is just easier to give them tabs or sometimes I have a student who is just learning how to play bass guitar that actually reads music who would actually learn faster if they read tabs. I don’t like working with tabs because there is usually no indication of rhythms and that just messes with my brain. I do see the advantage though for some people, some of the time. With THAT being said….

Some how I ran across Tabular tonight. It is a few months old now but I have not seen ANYONE talking about it! Which is disappointing because the iPad version is FREE and the app works very well. There are restrictions, with the most serious issue being that the number of measures you can add is restricted to 100 in the free version. You are also restricted on how many documents, tracks and custom tunings you can add. If those things are going to hold you back then the upgrade is $9.99 which is a fair price for what you can do with this app.

Tabular Bass PartI dug in and started creating a piece, an original composition so be warned! I found it extremely easy to find my way around the app and to start adding music. You really must have a good understanding of the notes on a stringed instrument to use the app though.  Of course if your goal os to transcribe something you can already play then it will not be an issue. The way you add notes is to simply select the length of note value you would like, whole/half/quarter etc… and then to tap on the fretboard. Then you tap the plus button to add another note and repeat the process. The biggest issue I had with the app is that you are allowed to add too many beats in a measure. To be fair though there is an colored indicator  under the measures that do not add up.

Once a measure is complete you tap the right arrow and another measure is created. Pretty simple. There are all sorts of sweet guitar and normal musical symbols/articulations/slides and other things in the menu along the bottom of the screen. I added a bunch and then printed the part out. I was given several options in the share menu…. one was to email, another was to Message and then I could Print. If sharing by email you can send a Tabular file (for working on in the desktop version), a PDF (which I choose), ASCII, or MIDI files. You can see the printed PDF looks pretty darned good! Scroll down, cause there’s more!

Tabular Bass Part Printed

After plunking out a bass part I started digging around in the menu up in the upper right of the screen (The one that says Bass and has a bass icon) – This is where I started to wonder what the future plans are for this app…. when adding more tracks you are given some icons like a flute, piano, trumpet, saxophone as choices that don’t make much sense in a tabs app. This is also where you select which sound you would like and again there were some interesting choices like pan flute. I didn’t find a piano sound though, strange given that there is a piano icon.

I also found another limitation of the free version – 3 tracks.

Tabular - Drum PartsI was very excited to find out that the app supports drum tab! Honestly, after laying out a drum part in this app I am in love with the drum notation! It is easier than Sibelius! I have never enjoyed doing drum parts in Sibelius or Finale just because it takes me WAY longer than all the other parts, like flute, clarinet or whatever. In this app it was WAY quick!!!!!!! You are given a menu to chose which instruments you are going to need notation for – I selected a BD, SD, HH, High Tom and Low Tom. Then the entering of notes is just like for guitar except that you have this nifty instrument picker for each note value…. so for instance while entering the first 8th note I simply selected that I wanted an Open HiHat and a Bass Drum to sound. Notice the pink arrows below? For the HH and SD there are several versions of those sounds as indicated in this screen shot by the o’s next to the words. If you tap on the o next to the HH it becomes an x – that would mean the HH would sound closed. If you tap the o next to the SD it becomes an @ and then it would sound muffled. You can see the changes very quickly in the tabs.

If you tap the little hamburger icon in the bottom right you are given options to Undo, Redo, Copy, Paste and many other choices as well…. they all were very easy to figure out once I found them.

Of course the Play button allowed you to play the song…. which you can listen to at the bottom of this post. I hope that eventually they add AudioBus and InterApp compatibility. As it stands, in order for me to share the audio with you I had to record it into GarageBand on my MacBook then upload it to SoundCloud. I think the audio quality is pretty good – Of course I remember back in the day when QuickTime first gave us a MIDI synth built in on our desktops! Boy, was THAT exciting too! (Didn’t sound as good then though!)

I like the way each part looks individually but I could not find a way to look at or print all three parts at once though.  I love the fact that I can see the tabs right along with the standard notation! It is possible to hide the staff and it is possible to replace it with just the rhythms! Which of course means that I could play form it without gripping too much!

For the price, you can not beat this app for being able to whip out some tabs for some reason or another. I love where they have started, a very solid and smoothly working app that gives us a chance to create tabbed notation for free on the iPad!

I am going to keep this app in my sights to watch for these improvements….

  1. Being able to see more than one part at a time
  2. The addition of AudioBus and/or InterApp Audio
  3. I really think that I should not be allowed to add too many beats in a measure. It might even be nice if the rest of the measure automatically filled up with whatever rests I needed to finish it – so if I had already entered a quarter note and two 8th notes then it would show a half rest. As soon as I entered an 8th note I would see an 8th rest and a quarter rest. (MINOR)

Here are the two PDF parts for you to see the quality of the printed parts (feel free to steal the music and perform it at your next concert, just mention my name in the program and send me a video of the performance!) -

Tabular Bass Part | Tabular Drum Part


Here is the audio of the file from my SoundCloud -

FileMaker13 DataBase in the Music Classroom

FileMaker Large IconFileMaker13 is the latest version of FileMaker and it comes with some excellent improvements over the past! I will be adding a few more posts this next week about some of those improvements. In this blog post I want to highlight one improvement and point out a few reasons why using a database is so much better than using a spreadsheet. Then…. I’m going to bed. So every year I have to recruit and keep track of upcoming beginning band students. The first step in that process is our local music store comes in and gives a quick test to give us some indicators as to each students general musical aptitude – rhythms, pitch, chords and melody. Then they also have the kids try out instruments to see if they are a good fit for whatever they are interested in. These two “tests” give us a real basic building block for the next steps to be taken in class. I get those results in a spreadsheet form that looks much like this…. (I have already imported this into FileMaker though and have added a few more fields to the spreadsheet which is why you see some check boxes) 5th Database Spreadsheet Style   If I was to have left this info in spreadsheet form then I would not be able to foo some very useful things with that information like put is on my iPad in a different view along with a bunch of ways to mark things the first week of school… I can see at a very quick glance a lot of information about the student now. I can also make very quick changes to each students information – things like mark them present on four different days, indicate if they have changed their mind and actually need to be dropped, I can see if their parents attended the rental meeting or if they need a school instrument, if they have an instrument or a book and at the bottom I can see their test scores. (TAKE NOTE OF THE REPORTS BUTTON AT THE TOP!) 5th Database iPad Form   If I wanted to see more than just one kid at a time then I also have a list view setup which is even quicker when I am in the middle of 50 plus 5th graders anxiously ready to play those instruments! 5th Database List view As I mentioned above – did you take note of the Reports button on the Form View above? If not scroll back up and take a look… When I click on that button one of the new features of FileMaker13 kicks into action. PopOvers – something we are very used to having on iOS devices but now they are available in FileMaker Databases too! Here’s what pops up… Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 1.38.36 AM This is where the real fun happens…. I can now, at the touch of the button, print some very useful information. For instance, I can quickly get a list of all the kids signed up sorted by their last name OR sorted by the instrument they want to play. When I sort by the instrument they want to play I even have it set up to have section headers like this…. 5th Database Report Try to do THAT in a spreadsheet! It’s really easy when it comes time for me to send a list to the scheduling secretaries and principals of who is signed up because I can hit that button that pulls up all 57 kids, out of 91, that signed up for band and then it will automatically be sorted by last name and have a heading and footer and will even have a count of how man kids are on the list! NOW… I will say that I do use spreadsheets frequently. Our school grade book system will export reports as excel files of students names, phone numbers, parents info and their address/phone info. It is so easy to take those spreadsheets and import them into FileMaker though that I don’t use those spreadsheets for very long! TO WRAP UP The current iOS version of FileMakerGo 13 Small IconFileMakerGo is free and works on iPad as well as on iPhone! – it used to cost but the fact that is free is one of the new features of FileMaker13! It is a very nice addition! The desktop version of FileMaker is for Mac or Windows even though FileMaker is actually owned by Apple. It is not the cheapest program but it is also one of my most used programs year after year! The app comes in two version the Pro version which is all most people would need and then the advanced version which is more for database designers who want to develop and sell their databases. Then there is even FileMaker Server software but that’s a whole different story there!

Music Notation on the iPad – SymphonyPro Updated!

There are only a handful of apps on the iPad that are actually useful for music notation on the iPad. Tonight that list grows by one.

SymphonyPro     SymphonyProV3SymphonyPro has been updated to a version that is actually useable! I have really wanted this app to be useable ever since it came out but every time I have tried it in the past there have been too many bugs. The developers really wanted this app to work too though and have stayed hard at work. With this update I was actually able to get the app to work. It did the job very well in fact! There are still a few issues – The interface for instance has been updated to be iOS7 comparable but it is actually way too light in several areas and this makes it difficult to see! I also had an issue when inputting a clarinet part and the transposition of the key did not work very well . I was able to find a work around though because SymphonyPro works well with MusicXML, so with a quick export of my score from SymphonyPro into Sibelius I had the issue fixed. In fact this sort of situation is exactly the scenario I see many people using the iPad for – starting musical scores and ideas on the iPad then transferring them over to Sibelius, Finale or Notion on a regular computer.

Let me make a list of some of the areas I thought was very useful in SymphonyPro -

  1. I could input and edit the music with very intuitive taps on the touch interface.
  2. I was able to use a MIDI keyboard to help input music along with using the virtual keyboard/fretboard.
  3. I was able to record that MIDI keyboard live (required some editing but could be faster)
  4. When recording live there are nice quantization options and the ability to turn tuples on or off.
  5. Nice selection of articulations, dynamics, and other musical markings like chords, text and lyrics
  6. Editing through use of normal copy/paste, insert/rearrange, along with undo/redo was possible.
  7. I could play back the score to listen to it.
  8. Exporting of the final product had several options – Music XML, PDF, Picture, AAC, and even MIDI! SoundCloud is even an option – Lovely job there guys, thank you!

There are still some areas that need improvement -

  1. Layout of the score – not nearly as nice as in Sibelius (See the two PDF’s I have below for comparison
  2. Trying to export a Picture resulted in the app freezing up (To be fair I was using my iPad1 so that may have been the issue?)
  3. Transposition of instrument parts still has something funky going on – I thought it was working correctly when I started but after finishing the entire score I noticed that at some point my clarinet part started displaying in concert pitch and I could not fix that issue. (and yes, I know about the “Concert Pitch” option in the score menu – did not work AT ALL!) Plus when I imported the XML file into Sibelius my clarinet ended acting like it was setup for an Eb AltoSax.
  4. Multi-Rest and Rehearsal markings

NOW FOR THE EVEN BETTER NEWS – All this capability comes at a very small price in storage demands! This app only requires 209MB’s! This is awesome news for those of us working with a 16GB or 32Gb iPad!


Comparison of SymPro vs Sibelius

Comparison of SymPro vs Sibelius

Meadowlands SymPro - Click to see the PDF from SymphonyPro

Meadowlands-Sibelius - Click to see the PDF from Sibelius that I imported from the MusicXML file out of SymPro. I edited the transposition issue quickly and added rehearsal markings is all I did here.

There are two other very important apps that are available on iPad for music notation you should know about as well….

Notion Small IconNotion Music, owned by PreSonus Audio Electronics, has both a desktop app and also an iPad app that is rock solid! I love that the desktop app is only $99 and that it works hand in hand with the iPad app, which is only $15 (Which is quite a bargain, if you are familiar with prices for music notation apps!) The problem with the iPad app is that it requires you to have 1.18 GB of free space on your iPad and that is only for the basic sound set! Now don’t get me wrong – these are going to sound awesome, but unless your iPad is of the 64GB or 128GB version you very well are not going to want to spare that much space!

Then there is NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe from Neuratron- This is an amazing app that is well worth the price! You get to handwrite the music and it turns it into printed/computerized sheet music! I was more than willing to pay the $22 full price for this app because it is so amazing – handwritten music notation – any idea how much THAT costs on a regular computer? PLUS they even offer a free 1 staff version! works very well through the Safari app so this is another great option.

There are other apps that are fun to play with – ScoreCloud Small IconScoreCloud Express lets you sing/play/whistle into and it will tell you the notes you are singing and is on a spring time sale for only .99 cents! (You should only sing one note at a time in this app by the way – meant for mono-phonic music!) TomChord Small IconTomChord on the other hand will recognize chords you are playing or from a song in your music library!


All of this comes at the same time as a new blog entry from an upcoming music app from former Sibelius developers who are now working at Steinberg -


Flipping the Band Room – iPad Apps to Make it Rock!

Explain Everything AppI’ve always been trying to find ways to get students more involved outside of the classroom in creating music. In reading all of the information about “Flipping the Classroom” I’ve been intrigued about how to make this happen within a Band setting. Of course, since we we are working on composing a piece a week for the remainder of the school year there are many details to discuss with the students. Seeings as how I am pushing the kids to compose outside of the class it stands to reason that maybe I could give feedback outside of the class as well! So I figured I may as well try it!

I’ve seen and played with many different to make videos explaining everything (pun intended) I was observing in the students compositions but I finally decided to work with the Explain Everything small iconExplain Everything” app. There were several very important reasons I chose this app..

First of all I fully appreciate the fact that this app does not tie me into some companies attempt to become “The Next Big Thing”. Explain Everything allows me to create my content and upload to where ever I wish – I stay in control of my content!

Secondly I knew that I was going to be importing PDF scans of the students work into the app so this capability was a must. The next part of making use of the PDF’s was that I would be drawing/highlighting/annotating/pointing out details on the PDF’s. I knew that at times I would of course want to simply draw my own material from scratch as well. The app I picked had to be able to handle all of those situations easily.

Thirdly I really like the flexibility Explain Everything gives me to record my own voice, draw, animate and layout materials on an endless canvas.

Fourth I knew that I would have files, pictures, PDF’s and movies scattered all over the place that I would be pulling into these movies. Explain Everything allows me to easily pull in file from my camera roll, iTunes, DropBox, Box, Google Drive, Evernote, SkyDrive and evenWebDave servers!

Lastly was the need to be able to share these movies with my students. The app makes it simple to export my creations to YouTube and a few other places as well (look at the list from where you can pull media in from).


So I set to work to try this out – Here’s what I did. I took a handful of student compositions to the scanner and created PDFs. Those PDF’s then got uploaded to DropBox (This was I can use them other ways as well). Then I opened the Explain Everything app, imported the PDF’s and watched as slides were created for each page of the PDF. Once loaded I set to work erasing students names. Then I started the recording of my voice and writing/annotating over top of their PDF’s. The timeline allowed me to backup and re-do any section I was not happy with. After that process was done I took the project and exported it to my camera roll as a movie. This took a little while – during which I checked my twitter feed and chatted with a new friend in WI who is recording a Turkish Fusion band! How fun right?….. back to the post though…. Once the exported movie was in my camera roll I used iMovie to spruce things up a bit more. I added some background music and a few titles (I could probably have done the titles in Explain Everything but I used iMove. I had to find where each section started to split the movie up in order to add the titles but that did not take very long. Then I uploaded the movie to YouTube from iMovie (Which I could have just simply uploaded the movie from within the Explain Everything app but like I said… I wanted things to be a bit fancier.)

Last step was to link to the movie from my classroom blog. From there the students can watch the video right from the blog post or open it in YouTube – (By the way… If you have an iPad and do not use the YouTube app currently I would really like to know why! The YouTube app is a very slick app! I love the way they allow you to load one video then pull it down to the corner and search other videos while that first one is still playing! I fully appreciate that YouTube now has playlists as well – MANDATORY for classroom viewing of Youtube!)


A quick, fun way for me to give feedback to the students that they can incorporate into their work WITHOUT taking class time to do so. The feedback I give is nothing confusing so I doubt any student will have questions but if they do then they could ask those question via email, twitter or during class.


I would like to be able to add background music and the titles from within the app – I probably can but just haven’t figured it out yet. Since I knew how to do it easily from within iMovie I chose that route for now.


I will be doing more of these movies and I think you should too! My only wish is that I could put an iPad in every students hands so THEY were the ones creating the videos! Go but the app and get busy having fun creating videos for your students – thats my suggestion -

The apps are of course available on the iTunes Store -
Explain Everything small icon Explain Everything -
iMovie iPad small iconiMovie
YouTube small iconYouTube


Almost forgot – Here are the two videos I created….

First one -

Second one -

and now… Bed, because that early morning gym time is not going to be fun as it is!

Inspiration In The Storm – Using my iPad to express where words fail.

Using the iPad to put my digital sheet music on was my original intention when I bought the iPad1 the day it was released. I never imagined I would actually be using the iPad to create music and that it would be replacing my professional keyboards that have cost me a pretty penny (and a few dimes too!) I don’t think Steve and Apple had any idea what their little device was going to end up doing either!

The iPad inspires people to be creative, that’s the short of it! Especially with apps like iGrand Piano from IKMultimedia – and MultiTrack DAW – and Thor PolySonic Synth. I have loved playing the piano ever since about 4th grade when I asked my Mom to teach me – I really wanted to play in church. So my journey began and now I still enjoy playing piano but these days it is my keyboard in my basement instead of that old upright in the old stone church down the road from the two bedroom house we grew up in.

I am forever in search of better sounding piano sounds from keyboards, software and apps. Well I’m here to tell you that I really like the iGrand Piano app sounds that are now on my iPad! The app is on sale from January 30th until February 13th, 2014.  You can get iGrand icon smalliGrand Piano and iLectric icon smalliLectric Piano for only $9.99 each on the App Store. That’s 50% off the normal price of $19.99.  Already have iGrand Piano Free for iPhone or iPad?  Well you can upgrade to the full version at the special $9.99 price through in-app purchase as well.

This app has been one of those that I have been eyeballing for awhile now. This app and one other piano app were the two that I had decided I would buy. Which ever one went on sale first was going to be “it”. The other app is CMP Piano Small iconCMP Piano and has just as awesome of piano sounds in it!

So, since iGrand went on sale and that unused iTunes card was just sitting there, I downloaded the iGrand app and anxiously waited for it to download! I had played around with the free version but couldn’t wait to get my virtual hands on the full version! iGrand gives you 8 concert quality piano sounds for your $10. There is an in-app-purchase that gives you an additional 9 world-class pianos (but that will cost you another $10) I really don’t like IAP’s but it is the reality of apps now so I will deal with it.

Like this post stated – great apps/devices inspire people. The sounds in the iGrand Piano app were fun to play and all of them sounded great! I grabbed my little QuNexus keyboard and plugged that into the iPad and just started playing. A few ideas started forming so I then fired up MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrack DAW and started recording. (Why not Cubasis you ask? Well, I really didn’t want any drops in sound quality that I had gotten the previous night while using that app. Using MultiTrack DAW was a bit better but even using that app I have issues – like the sound just drops out for a sec or two while recording. When playing the recording back later all the audio is there but it is a bit weird when it happens)

After laying down the piano track I then went and fired up Thor Small iconThor PolySonic Synth and added a pad sound and a bit of a counter-melody. Now keep in mind that I played the entire song on a little QuNexus controller, which is great for many things but I am not so sure I would list playing piano parts as one of those things! I then uploaded the song right to SoundCloud from within MultiTrack DAW. Then I remembered that I should have ran it through the Audio Mastering Small IconAudio Mastering app that Igor has done such an amazing job with! So I saved a wav file version of the song and ran it through that app and uploaded it to SoundCloud  so you can all listen to the comparison of the before and after versions! (Of course if you are reading this post too many months in the future both files may not be there any more because I will need that space for new pieces of inspiration!)

Just a word about the song – I made it for a few youth that are very special to me and are having to deal with the imperfect world we live in. Sometimes we just are at a loss for words to say but music fills that need…. In the words of Apple – this is “my verse.” Hope it touches you. I pray God let’s you know peace in the middle of this storm, through His music…

Amazing iPad DAW for Music Classes!

CausticIn the world of using mobile devices to assist you in your music making endeavors, iPad is the king. There are few apps that are of any real use on the Android market for musicians. Every now and then I do hear of something worth the time of Android toting musicians. On iPad though the app store is overflowing of choices of all flavors! (disclaimer – I make that statement from tons of research – not from my personal experience as I do not own an Android device. If you would like to disagree with me I would love for you to leave comments below telling me what apps and devices you are using in the Android world!)

On December 14, 2013 though a strange thing happened! One of the apps for Android that was actually pretty amazing for musicians came to the iPad! Caustic is a music creation tool inspired by rack mount synthesizer/sampler rigs. Caustic is an app in which a lot of musical creation could be done. All in one app. Caustic is one of those apps that cost’s $9.99 but I would strongly suggest as a possibility for schools using iPads in music tech classes. There are so many different parts of this app to explore that it would easily fit the bill for filling an entire semester class and keep the kids (adults) busy, busy, busy.

Look at this list:

* Subsynth – Virtual analog subtractive synthesizer
* PCMSynth – Multi-sample wave synthesizer
* BassLine – 303-like monosynth
* BeatBox – 8-channel sampling drum machine
* PadSynth – Harmonic table pad synthesizer
* 8BitSynth – 8bit equation solver synthesizer
* Modular – Fully configurable and routable synthesizer
* Organ – Tonewheel organ with rotary speaker
* Vocoder – 8-band harmonic vocoder
* FMSynth – DX-style 3-operator fm synthesizer

* Effects rack supporting 2 effects per machine (16 effect types).
* Mixer desk with EQ, panning and global Delay/Reverb effects.
* Master section with effect slots, parametric EQ and limiter.
* Song sequencer

Here is another feature that even some of the more expensive iPad DAW’s cannot say – Caustic supports automation recording on most controls and includes powerful editors for modifying automation curves.

We are talking about being able to teach kids all of those different module’s listed above, mixing techniques, all about effects, sequencing and song composition all without having to dig around for different apps. This app actually does not currently support AudioBus, which I almost always require an app to have before I consider it. I don’t believe that is such a drawback in this case as there is so much built into this one app. Depending on the ability of your iPad there are 14 slots you can fill with different modules (as listed above). Caustic is VERY processor friendly even on an iPad2!

There are several ways to share your creative genius built in Caustic – You can export wav files, ogg files, and even MIDI. Amazingly enough there is even a FREE PC version of this app online for those of you PC users out there! Which by the way really bugs me that it actually says PC on the app store as PC should actually be written as WINDOWS! It is written correctly on the developers website though.

Think about what kind of curriculum you could build off from this?! You have all the critical parts to compose with this app –  percussion, bass lines, melody lines, accompaniment even a vocoder that vocalists (and non-vocalists) can have a ball with. There are a ton of presets available too in each module but you could really dig in and teach the kids about how each one of these modules works behind the scenes. Amazing.

Plus the developer has a ton of awesomely created YouTube tutorials already loaded up. Seriously, this is the best collection of videos from any developer I have ever seen! Now we are talking about a flipped music class? hmmm….

YouTube Channel

I will say that I was so blown away with the possibilities in this app that I purchased it at full price. I have no idea if this thing will go on sale at any given time. If it ever does I would hope there was a way for a school to “purchase” it for an entire class immediately.

By the way… the app does require you to be running iOS6 so if you still have one of those iPad1′s around it will not work for this app. I am very interested if any of you schools are sporting iPad1′s so leave me a comment below if your school is till making use of the original iPad1. I know I have came back into possession of my original iPad, bought on the day it came out…. My wife moved to an iPad2 and my kids are using iPad3′s or iPad Mini’s so that iPad1 is being put back into use by me in various ways alongside my iPad2.

Some iPad Creativity – Using Thor and Cubasis

Greece HatOne of the searches that brought people to this blog over the past year was their search for “Muti-Track DAW for iPad”.

Using my iPad as a multi-track DAW is one of the ways I get to have fun on it! I don’t have games installed (well not that many) – I just have a bunch of music apps! I have several recording apps – MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrackDAW was the first one I bought but as that only recorded audio I soon put out the money for Cubasis small iconCubasis so I could record MIDI as well. Of course when GarageBand small iconGarageBand for iPad came out that was a great $5 deal – and now it is free! I bought AniMoog as one of my first music synths and started adding more and more synths through the past few years.

One of those new synths from this past year that is simply great was Thor Small iconThor Polysonic Synthesizer. It is a great synth that has amazing sounds in it that inspire you to record so that you can layer more musical lines on top of what you are currently doing. Out of all the people I listen to on SoundCloud that are using iOS to create music I continue to find them using Thor!

This recording also uses AudioBus small iconAudioBus – AudioBus is what sits between Cubasis and other apps like Thor – AudioBus works pretty well on an iPad2 so I use that more than the newer InterApp Audio.

I used one EFX app in the FX slot in AudioBus  - I put AudioReverb small iconAudioReverb in there for the melody line. Thor fed directly into AudioReverb and then the sound went into Cubasis. That meant that once I recorded the melody line I would not be able to go back and change the reverb settings but the benefit was that I had access to other FX’s from what Cubasis has built in.

Of course the last step was to upload my “masterpiece” some place I could share it with others and get feedback from my friends – friends that live in the same town as I do, friends/family that I have known for years that are online, and friends I know only by name and the sounds of their music! SoundCloud small iconSoundCloud is a great place to find other people writing music on just an iPad. It is places like this that I find others who enjoy the creations they come together under their fingers into something that they can call theirs…. something that inspires them to keep on living and looking for beauty in the world. Jack Morefield wrote this on his SoundCloud bio…

“Why is this music important to me? – many reasons, but the main one is that now, because of technology, I am able to make these compositions I have been hearing my whole life all on my own, which I never dreamed possible. I cannot believe that we can do on our computers and hand held devices more than any money could buy in a studio even 15 years ago…

So, I am slowly turning from a musician who had to prattle on – guitar wise- to a composer of soundscapes….to me that is very fulfilling.”

Here is my latest:

Here is Jack’s SoundCloud: – Listen to this piece he wrote on his guitar and recorded his iPad to record and provide further backup for his guitar.


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