NOISE! Coming your way! Tons of fun (you know, like music SHOULD be!)

noise-iconGet the New NOISE app (if you dare) (OK – actually, you should go get it unless you were using the old version)

LIVE IN FEAR PEOPLE! Yeah, I know… you just read my post title and then the first sentence and I”m sure you figure I’m nuts for sure now! But read on and I’ll explain!

I love writing blog posts like these because it is all about creating music in new and innovative ways using technology that gives us possibilities we’ve never had before! This app is serious fun and seriously let you get down to the actual act of CREATING!

Roli is at it again! You know, that company who brought us the Seaboard Grand and the Seaboard Rise?

Their next move was to bring us the ORIGINAL Noise app. Which was interesting and with a force touch iPhone became VERY interesting in that it was the first music app to take advantage of force touch – and it was COOL!

Their next move was to bring us the new and innovative BLOCKS (the modular music studio that lets anyone make music)

These things –


Then things went sour, very, very, very sour! Some bone head over at Roli made the stupidest decision in the history of the company – they took the original NOISE app and totally changed it into something NO ONE recognized! On top of THAT poor decision, they changed the icon and instead of creating a totally new app, leaving the old one still available…. they pushed out the new update as the SAME APP!

This is why I said – “Live in Fear!” This is a perfect example of why you REALLY should NOT have the auto update turned on for apps on your iPhone/iPad! Here are a few comparison shots for those of you NOT familiar with what I am talking about already –

FullSizeRender.jpg-4.jpegOriginal icon – NOISE Icon.pngNew icon

Original NOISE app
New NOISE app

Knuckle heads.

I’m here to let you know two things….

  1. Firstly – Some people were relying on the original app for their upcoming performances and are now scrambling to figure things out.
  2. Secondly – I actually think the new app is an improvement!
  3. Third – The new version still has glaring omissions for a music app on iOS in current days!
  4. Last – Go Get the new app!

Here is my thought on this new version…. creating music is supposed to be FUN! This new app accomplishes that! I have a ton of music instrument apps on my iPad and I can’t tell you the last time I just sat and created music with one of them! Now to be fair, that’s partly because I am a Band Director just finishing up marching season and trying to get things ready for the next round of performances!

Tonight though I just sat and played! Here’s what I found…

The original app used a keyboard like interface trying to simulate the Seaboard RISE and it was actually very difficult to control! I did not see myself using this in live performance or giving it to my students to use in live performances. I guess some people are though because they are ticked, I mean REALLY ticked!

The new app interface is different and in my opinion way better! It’s extremely useable! Take a look below – now we have a grid. On that grid you see colors that actually are vital information as they help you figure out the scale being currently used. On the top right are three exciting options – Scale, Chord and Arp. They do exactly as you would expect. In this screenshot you see all the notes of the chromatic scale available to you. Jump down to the next screen shot to see what it looks like when locked into the Mixolydian Scale….IMG_1407.PNG


Now we are less likely to hit “wrong” notes 🙂

The sounds included are all pretty good sounds. I like the fact that Roli has some great sound designers working for them. They take the time to really program the sounds to react to what is going on with your finger! Go to their website to read about the 5D Touch – it’s good stuff! It is NOT a simple note on, note off experience – this makes for a much more immersive experience. More sounds are going to be made available soon. Those people who bought the IAP extra sound banks in the original NOISE app are now able to download and restore those sounds into the new version of the app.

The next part takes things even further into the realm of fun…..

Pull down on the little line center of the top of the screen and you will get this…


Now you get to start recording your doodles! You have four tracks and four different sounds available to create a musical masterpiece. You then have 12 loops to fill if you so wish to create that many (and I think you WIL!!)

This is all about hitting the record button and playing. You don’t need to fiddle with settings like quantize (even though it’s already turned on for you and there’s no way to turn it off), there’s not any way to edit your recordings either (simply re-record it!) and each loop is locked into one measure of four four (there is a reason for this – play the drum pads and drag your finger up or down or all around!)

Soooooo…… my final thoughts…..

The NOISE app has a ways to go to be fully functional in my opinion and here are my top issues…

  • Their BLOCKS web site is BAD! Come one Roli – get with it. This website needs to be awesome and it simply is annoying to use on a computer let alone a tablet! It is NOT a smooth, graceful experience that rocks my world!
  • You currently MUST create an account to use the app! This is NOT good in a school setting!
  • Once your masterpiece is created there is no way to record your “performance” of the loops! I had to hook up an aux cable to my laptop (good thing I was using my iPad and not my iPhone7! Good thing I didn’t have one of those new MacBook Pro’s!)
  • For that matter, there isn’t even a way in app to setup a “song” that plays back your loops in a specific sequence. (Although if you look at the featured image for this post I do spy an interesting capability that is NOT currently in this version of the app, that looks like MAYBE there is already plans for this capabilities)
  • Where the heck is AudioBus, InterAppAudio or Audio Unit capability at guys!? I mean COME ON! This is 2016! This is basic app functionality for any decent music app!
  • There isn’t any way to connect another app to this app via MIDI and you sure can’t connect an external controller to it (except those sweet BLOCK Roli just introduced for $169…. which brings us to the good things…

The app does have some outstanding features….

  • This app connects via BlueTooth MIDI! This is amazing! BlueTooth MIDI is one of the biggest inventions lately! Look Ma, no wires!
  • This app was made to connect with Roli’s new BLOCKS – dude, go watch the demo video below – this is wicked awesome!
  • This app is capable of keeping teachers, amateurs and students busy for 2-3 hours! Hope your spouse doesn’t get mad! If they do, don’t bring up my name!

DEAR ROLI – I would LOVE to get my hands on these BLOCKS to try out for myself and with my students! If you have any spares around send me a set! My Electronic Music Ensemble at our school could make you a video or two and you could use them for promo purposes and I would be more than willing to write several more posts about our thoughts on the BLOCKS! Heck, send us a Seabord RISE while you are at it! 🙂


Here is my musical creation from tonight – feel free to put this on in the headphones and let it play while you go grade some papers or compositions as it is kind of long! 🙂 (I told ya, I had fun using this but I didn’t promise a top 40 hit!)




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