KRFT – Modular Instrument for Music Production (and Performance)

KRFT is one of the apps that I have just been begging to dive into for the past 6 months but with school still in progress and a ton of other projects already on the front burners I haven’t had time. Now school is out and I get to play some!

img_1818KRFT – Modular Music Production  – (Discounted 33% until June 22nd!)

I really like to try to find alternative ways for my music students to perform. I like to perform using interfaces/instruments that do not fit into the traditional mold as well. We ARE trying to teach music in the 21st century right? In the past I’ve always had some grand ideas of being able to have this pre-recorded music that I could instantly play various sections of and still be able to tweak in various ways as I felt fit in the moment. The traditional DAW has not allowed this flexibility and neither have simple looping apps. Now with KRFT I can have a great deal of flexibility, and spontaneity all in a layout that fits my method of creating/performing.

The idea is simple you have a layout of squares, triangle, and circles combined with buttons and knobs that control the music. (The cool glasses and espresso don’t hurt either!)

KRFTout-ipad2

The app runs on iPhone as well, giving you even great flexibility in where and when you create and play.

KRFTout-iphone

When editing your layout you get a blank screen and from there start to build up your musical creation. You add these things called Musical Cells to your blank canvas. Inside of each of these cells you add either you music that you records, audio loops or you use the cells to morph and transform your music.

Recording some loops into some cells are probably the best spot to start – there are bass, drums and lead synths built into the app with quite a hefty list of possible sounds to choose from! From there creating a few fills loops might be next and then moving on to adding in some audio triggers. Then you get to start messing around with the buttons that tweak the sound – allowing you to control things like Volume, Tempo, Swing and Filter on the Master side of things. On each individual channels you get to set up morph triggers that affect individual channels – these are Filter Frequency, Pitch, Attack, Gate, Distortion Level and Mix, Level, Duration of Delay, Chorus Mix, and Channel Volume/Pan/Reverb. So you can see how involved you can get with the control of and morphing of your performance!

 

KRFTpink ipad keyboardWhen entering in your music you have two methods of entering – the first is a grid of pads that allow for some creative input depending on where you tap the cell. The sound can be affected in several different ways – you can set Gain, Filter, Attack, Pitch and LFO to change depending on how high or low you tap on the grid. There are three rows of these pads to play that funky music on. The Master Tuning section decides that scale that gets used out of the 8 choices – Major, Minor, Harmonic, Doria, Mixolydian, Lydian, Phrygian and Lochrian.

OF course for this of you who simply want a piano roll/step time entry there is that possibility as well.

KRFT PianoRollipad matrix

CONNECTIVITY

KRFT has quite a bit of versatility built into the app and could easily be an app that you use by itself. But, where is the fun in THAT?

As I mentioned, you have three different types of synth sounds built into the app each with a large variety of sounds to choose from. You can add multiple channels of each type too – so if you want several lead sounds simply add a new channel and away you go.

For those of us with other apps we want to tie into KRFT though it is easy to do. Simply add a MIDI channel, select the other app and away you go.

For those of you who want to take connectivity a step further than go ahead… feel free to incorporate your desktop DAW like Ableton Live or Logic as well! Any other app that is MIDI enabled is good to go here! In fact, any hardware that you have connected to your iOS device, that can be controlled via MIDI can be controlled with KRFT! Take a minute and let THAT sink in!

oh…. KRFT does Ableton Link too so everything will stay tightly synced together! AudioBus, CoreMIDI, both are there as is the capability of using the app in AUM!

The developers are two brothers based out of London. I feel like they are onto something exciting here with the flexibility they are giving us in KRFT. It is more than just the flexibility though, it is also the fact that KRFT is pretty simple to figure out. IT doesn’t take long and even us adults can figure it out! Give a few students the task and time in class to figure this app out and they will catch on quickly as well. If they don’t though, there is a nice set of YouTube tutorials they have put together to help guide us through the process of getting going.

KRFT Videos – 

Of course what kind of guy would I be if I didn’t let you see the app in action? Here is a nice jam using the app to give you an idea of what all is possible. I do have to say that when Studio Amplify came out with their app NOIZ, I wanted so bad to be able to set up my very own creations instead of being held back by what someone else had created – Don’t get me wrong NOIZ is a blast to play but being given the ability to set things up as I wish, with my own music is like Christmas Morning!

INSERT VIDEO HERE

 

 

 

ME&T Podcast #8 Featuring The Developer from Sheet Music Scanner is now out!

Chris and I have had a busy first part of 2017nso it has been a little while since we have found the time to put a new podcast out. But we had a great talk with David Zemsky, the developer of Sheet Music Scanner – an iOS app that is pretty disruptive to our workflows as musicians. Using this app and your devices built in camera it is simple to turn a static sheet of music into digital music that you can do many things with. One of the most important things is that you can listen to what the music is supposed to sound like allowing for quicker understanding of that sheet music. I love these chances to sit and find out more about the developers who have a passion to help change the face of music education, the developers who want to change the capabilities musicians have through the use of technology. David is a great person whose desire for developing his app is evident in our discussions.

Chris and I discuss quite a few other current topics current in the world of music, education and technology. Check out the show notes on our METPodcast WordPress page

Here is the podcast from our SoundCloud page which is sponsored by UberChord

Notion is on Sale!

I feel REALLY bad for not sharing this here –

Notion LargeNotion is on sale right now! Save like almost 50% off! It’s $7.99 which is a steal. If you are a music educator you need this! Even if you don’t own Notion for your regular computer it’s a no brainer…

  • Start work on your iPad.
  • Use your iPad to hand-write the music
  • Use your iPad to photo-scan sheet music in using something like Sheet Music Scanner and transfer it to Notion to clean up or add to it and then transfer it to your computer via XML to use in Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/Notion or whatever you use for music notation on the computer.
  • Enter Percussion parts via the nifty percussion features on your iPad (Trust me, this is WAY easier than on a desktop!)

The list goes on and on….

If you are a musician you need this app….

  • Compose your own music
  • Arrange a flute part for you to play on your trombone
  • Find music on the internet and import it into Notion for you to play (and take with you everywhere!)

Yes, there is a bit of learning of new software but if you have used music notation apps then you know what is possible and it will not take you long!

What do you think the name of this app is?

I’m very curious to know if you can tell the name of this app from the icon! I’ve got two sons who are graphic design majors and we have these sort of discussions all the time. 

I’ll say up front that I like the design and I like the app even more but I am VERY interested in knowing your thoughts. So leave your answers/thoughts below. 

BlocksWave – FREE – GET IT!

If you are a musician and like creating music with your iOS device then this is the deal of the day for you!

Blocks WaveBlocs Wave is FREE – Not sure for how long and I’ve got to go rehearse so this is just a copy and paste from the App Store. I will say you may have to spend a few seconds to figure it out AND I will say they want you to buy their IAP’s . The reason I’m saying download it is because YOU can put your OWN content in their! Create loops and perform with loops!

Think Ableton Live but not at that level BUT one of the closest apps you will find on iOS.

Blocs Wave is a powerful and beautifully designed music app for making and recording new music quickly. For songwriters and electronic music makers alike, it is an on-the-move portable music studio.

Start new musical ideas by discovering new sounds across genres. Make your tunes unique by slicing and rearranging your sounds. Play with beautiful touchable waveforms and build up loops in real-time by recording your voice or other sounds, and build bigger ideas using song sections. Blocs Wave is also great for live looping, thanks to its real-time stretch and pitch engine.

Features
• Find ideas quickly – Combine sounds across genres
• Chop up sounds – Use Slice Mode to make every sound unique
• Play with sounds – Beautiful, touchable waveforms
• Record new sounds – Capture your own vocals and instruments
• Explore a huge sound library – Find amazing sounds across genres from electronic to indie, EDM to songwriting, and more
• Expand your collection – Download more sounds from an ever-expanding soundpack library
• Export your music – Create a mixdown or export individual tracks
• Launchpad Soundpack sharing – Get hundreds more genres and styles through our Launchpad for iOS app

Advanced Features
• Real-time stretching – Change tempo while playing
• Real-time recording – Build up live recorded loops in real-time
• Export and Import – Bring in your own sounds from other apps, or export to them
• Key aware – All library sounds stay in-key with each other
• User library – Manage your recorded and imported sounds
• Works well with others – Supports Audiobus, AudioCopy/AudioShare and hardware input
• Jam in sync – Supports Ableton Link

Compatible with iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation), iPad (4th Generation), iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Pro (12.9 inch and 9.7 inch), iPhone SE, 7/7 Plus, 6/6s Plus, 6/6s, 5/5s/5c, 4s.

Supports iOS 8, 9 and 10.

Music Making Apps On Sale

Want to MAKE MUSIC with your iOS device? Here are some sales for the weekend!

MUSIC THEORY APP
Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro – $11.99

BIG NEWS RELEASE

I am about two weeks behind in writing about the AudioBus 3 updates so if you have heard of Audiobus 3 and Midiflow I’d not be surprised! I will write more about these apps but suffice it to say that these new apps and technologies are changing the workflow of musicians all over! Jump to the bottom of this post to see a couple of YouTube videos that help explain the excitement around these app! One of the reasons I think music teachers are going to use these is the fact that there is so much capability built into ONE place! This translates into easier to use!


AudioBus 3 Icon.pngAudioBus 3 – $9.99

Midiflow Bundle.pngMidiflow for Audiobus 3 (The whole bundle of 6 apps) – $8.99

Midiflow Keyboard Icon.pngMidiflow Keyboard – $2.99

Midiflow Limiter.pngMidiflow Limiter – Velocity Curve – $1.99

Midiflow Splitter.pngMidiflow Splitter – $2.99

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 1.07.53 PM.pngMidiflow Transposer – Free

Midiflow Randomizer.pngMidiflow Randomizer – $1.99

Midiflow Scales.pngMidiflow Scales – $1.99

APP SALES FOR MUSIC CREATION

Because of the AudioBus 3 update many of the following apps have been recently updated with the capability to take advantage of all the goodness now offered in AudioBus 3 and the newly integrated MIDIFlow.

RECORDING APPS
MultiTrackDAW – $9.99 (This is NOT on sale but has just been updated! If you want the most straight forward DAW for iPad that is quick to use and easy to understand then this is it!)

iMaschine 2 – $4.99

Quantiloop – $5.99

reSonare Recording Studio – $1.99

SYNTH APPS
Poseiden – $11.99

DRUM APPS
ElasticDrums – $5.99

iMaschine 2 – $4.99

VOCALISTS
VocaLive for iPhone – $13.99

VocaLive for iPad – $13.99

LIGHTING APPS (Get some smart bulbs by LIFx or Phillips Hue and have easy lighting for your next concert!)
Lightbow for Phillips hue/ LIFx – $1.99

Light DJ Pro – $4.99

 

AUDIOBUS DEMO

 

MIDIFLOW DEMO

Touch Notation from Kawai is On Sale!

If you are looking for an app that allows you to create music notation by handwriting it on your iPad then today until April 16 might just be a good time to get one such app on sale!

Touch NotationTouch Notation from Kawai is normally $12 but is on sale until April 16 for $7.99!

 

Touch Notation Free.pngTouch Notation also comes in a free version so you can try it out

This free version is a great way to get started!

 

Here is the cool thing too – The app is available for iPad as well as iPhone! This means many of your students should have this on their devices!

Check out their demo video to see how easy this is. As I wrote a sort while ago, when you are able to handwrite music on an electronic device the technology in many ways just gets out of the way and you are able to create without having to “figure the app out”. (well you will still have to figure it out but maybe not struggle with it quite as much.)

Be a User – Embrace new Tech! Discover the Joys Waiting For YOU!

MacBook TBarProgress and improvements in capabilities are expected in technology. In fact, I’ve told my own kids – “Buy the best tech you can afford/need at the best price you can find then don’t look back!” Soon a newer and shinier and faster and more capable thing will appear. It is the way it is.

Once you do make the decision to make a tech purchase though it really can be a huge event that changes your entire look out on what you can achieve.

Here is the most important thing I want you to take away from this blog post – read this much at least!

New technology can bring you a fresh outlook on the use of technology. Trying to continue to use the old tech can make you frustrated! When you KNOW what is possible but you don’t have access to those tools has the potential to make a person frustrated.

So…. dive in and talk to people that are using the new tech. Ask the important questions like can this really benefit me? Can this really make my life better? Can this really open up new possibilities? Is the new tech really going to actually be a game changer?

Then make the purchase.

Then…. become a user! Use the heck out of it! Ask people that know more than you for tips and trick! Read blogs, subscribe to twitter users, watch some YouTube videos. Actually become aware of just how the new technology can be used and what it can do for you!

BE A USER!

Game Changing Tech

The new MacBook Pro with the TouchBar and the 12.9 iPad Pro are some of those game changers. Let me start with sharing my impressions of the MacBook…

  • This thing is fast – so freaky fast I have to believe that Jimmy Johns had something to do with the creation of this thing. (Jimmy Johns…. don’t get it?  …. go google it)
  • Spotlight is freak fast too!
  • Having the ability to unlock the computer using the fingerprint sensor is cool.
  • Having the ability to unlock the computer through an AppleWatch is Amazing!
  • The TouchBar is a very handy way to work I HATE taking my hands off the keyboard while working on the laptop. The TouchBar gives me one more way to keep my hands on the keys, in addition to the the hundreds of keyboard shortcut that I use all the time. I love the fact that it SO much more useful than those Fn keys!
  • The keyboard has remarkably changed since 2010! I had not realized how tactile I had become in my typing until I tried typing on the new keyboard.
  • SIRI on my laptop totally rocks! Not sure exactly how many ways I can utilize it but I’m trying it every chance I get!
  • AirDrop is a game changer for those that have an iPhone/iPad and frequently start a project on those devices then change over to work on their laptops. Don’t worry DropBox and Box – you will still be used, just not nearly as critical now.
  • AirPlay has always been awesome from my iPad during class time. Now my laptop does the same! At home it is really sweet to be able to AirPlay over to the TV.
  • The fact that I have to buy a $40 dongle just to print at school is frustrating as all get out. BUT, is this Apple’s issue or my tech department? They will not open up the wireless network to allow printing. COME ON GUYS GET WITH THE TIMES!
  • Dongles are now in my bag for ethernet and USB. Soon I will need two more – an USB-c to Thunderbolt and then a Thunderbolt 2 to Firewire. This will allow me to record via my 32 channel PreSonus mixer. Annoying and expensive but props to Apple for making sure that there is still a solution that “just works”.
  • It is LOUD!
  • It is lighter and skinnier. Those few ounces make a difference. My backpack is noticeably lighter now!
  • This trackPad with force touch is crazy! It is also HUGE.

 

Apple PencilNow, the iPadPro. I have now worked with the 12.9 inch iPad since last year. I have not written about it much here but here are some thoughts…

  • Every single music teacher should be given one of these by their school district. It should be a gift to the teacher upon day one of their hire!
  • The Apple Pencil is very cool. Use that pencil with music notation or use it with an app like GoodNote that recognizes your handwriting and you will be astounded.
  • It is BIG
  • It is LOUD – In fact I don’t always hook up speakers during class time when I want to play something quickly for the kids. Most days the sound system is hooked up and ready to go nut when it isn’t I simply turn the iPad up and hit play. Not a single kid has complained about “not hearing”.
  • More complex scores like my High School band scores are totally readable on this thing.
  • There is SO much more screen real estate that when using it as a musical instrument I don’t feel cramped. I do have big hands and this was an issue with the smaller iPads.
  • The screen is beautiful – I love having my photos on this device! I love showing those photos to others because it is just such and amazing experience!
  • I do still like using a bluetooth keyboard with it. I refuse to get Apple’s though. I don’t want the extra weight on it. It’s big but by itself I don’t mind the weight. With ANY of the available keyboards that are cases it becomes a huge nuisance though. I simply bought a Logitech keyboard and leave it sitting on my desk. When I am out and about I use the on screen keyboard and never really too much about it.
  • Oh… and using this thing as a music production studio simply rocks!

RoadBlocks

I do fully understand why some people get freaked out when they are first adapting to new technology. This keyboard on the MacBook is messing with my brain. After a week with it though I am retraining myself and getting along just fine. There is a learning curve though upon getting new tech – Please don’t let that stop you from jumping in and getting new tech! Take it one thing at a time though – even I have felt overwhelmed and have to remind myself that I can only do/learn so much at a time. So pick one or two things and go for it!

 

Last Thought

Yes, tech will fail you. My electronic ensemble had a performance last night and I could not get the microphones to work! Still haven’t figured it out – it’s driving me nuts. HAVE A BACK UP PLAN (Part of that back up plan is to NOT become so frustrated you give up)

I’ve walked out of my office two or three times every day this week with a big ol grin on my face and my daughter just looks at me and shakes her head because she knows it is a result of being a user of new tech.

BUT, now My Daughter has the same look on her face and is now digging in to using my old laptop, which to her is brand new! She is doing projects that she could never have done before. Those projects will be a very visible part of the senior graduation and awards programs. When I look at her face I will see “that look” and I will knowingly smile because I will know what that look is from.

BE A USER!

The End of an Era

As this blog is as much about me sharing my use of technology in education as it is to journal my journey with my technology, this post is to mark the end of an era….

(If you don’t want to read a story about my tech acquisitions then move on and save some time. This post is about me saving money and buying more toys!)

Spring Breaks are always a great deal of fun for my family and myself. We always try to find someplace warm and fun. Warm beach is always great. The other thing I enjoy Spring Break for is the fact that we usually have our taxes back and I get a toy along with my kids sometimes too!

This blog post will be the lat that I write on my trust 2010 MacBookPro. I’m not sure but I think this laptop pre-dates the start of this blog – I’d have to go look. It’s still a good laptop and it will be passed on down to my daughter as she heads off to college because for everything she needs it will probably carry her through the next four years!

For me though I’ve been waiting for the right moment – as software advances on my laptop shows it age. I’ve not installed Sierra, although I could have as it is supported technically. Too many things would NOT have run though. The latest Logic update will sometimes run and sometimes not. I am going to be doing another summer where I am the video guy for two weeks at a music camp and even though I did pull it off last year I know I would be only thinking about how much faster a newer laptop could do all the editing! And other things too – it is slower than my three sons who have gotten MacBooks in the past couple of years and once I saw the speed with which they were able to do things I became a bit more unsatisfied. Plus as my phone and iPad was upgraded the speed I gained there made my 2010 seem even slower.

The reason I have not upgrade yet though is that I have not been unwilling to “give” on a few details – 16GB ram with a 512GB hard drive were just the minimum I’d go for – I thought and struggled with this decision long and hard though – I’ve been looking at upgrades for like two years. The other issue was price – no way was I willing to pay out the absurd price Apple wanted me to to get a machine with those specs. Which brings me to the fun of spring break this year (an other years too)

If you have never looked into Apples refurb store you need to. I have constantly bought my hardware through them and have never had an issue. In fact this 2010 machine was a refurb.

The other way I save money is to watch the sales at multiple websites and stores. For instance – if you have been thinking about buying an Apple Watch Series One – Target currently has them for about $80 off if you have a Red Card! That’s a nice savings!

Best Buy also has many Open Box deals. That are well worth the money. As my family and I spent time traveling from Michigan to Florida and back I checked in every Best Buy to see what they had. This year I found nothing matching the deal I wanted and was a bit bummed. Then after we had driven all those miles back to Michigan my wife suggested we drive do a lot little bit of shopping after we got home today as we were earlier than we thought. So we jumped back in the car again and drove another hour to the next closest town with a Best Buy and a mall in it. I dropped the girls at the mall to shop for clothes and away I went.

Upon peaking in the open box cage when I arrived I was pretty sure I’d found the deal I wanted but could not read the full label – I quickly found a guy who then found the “Apple Pro” with the keys. Lonnie opened the cage and sure enough it was the deal I wanted! I asked why it was so much off and he stated that there was currently a $100 sale on the new MacBooks which meant the Open Box deals went down as well.

The discussion we had while I inspected the machine was a bit discouraging though – and this was the same sort of discussion as two previous sales reps in other state. In answer to my “Why is this being sold as an Open Box deal?” – their response was that they were seeing a high number of people return the new MacBook Pros with the touchBar. Several of the sales guys stated that most people were returning them for the older MacBook with all the “normal” ports and one guy said a few people were getting the Windows Surface computers instead.

My answer tonight was well that all works out well for me! 🙂

So now, I sit here waiting for files from this trust worthy and hardy friend of mine to copy over to an external hard drive so I can pass it on to my lovely daughter. She will be getting a once top of the line MacBook Pro that will serve her purposes for a few more years. This is one of the reasons I don’t mind putting out a couple grand for my laptops – longevity and the fact that there are few, if any, troubles I run into while using them – they simply work.

 

PS – Because I opened up a Best Buy credit card I managed to save even more money – although this is in the shape of a Best Buy gift card that I will have to use to purchase more Best Buy items – BUT that counts!