Roli Seaboard Blocks on BIG Sale

Wowza – this is quite the prices savings if you have been waiting to pick up a ROLI Seaboard Block…

This is a GREAT time to jump in and grab these amazing instruments that have totally changed the options we have available to us for very a expressive experience! They DO take a bit of getting used to but wow!

Black Friday Sale Link

Now… there is another side to this story. If you have been following the news at ROLI you will know that they have just released new software and hardware. I’ve been trying to get a straight answer from the folks at ROLI about the differences in old hardware and the new. But apparently I don’t have the right connections – BUT I did find the answer straight from Marcus on their tech support forums. THIS is the answer I was hoping for! Bless you Roli! I love a company that has the ability to update my instrument through firmware!

Check out the short version below and then if you want the full read click here

SynthMaster One for iOS – Oh My!

If you are even possibly considering performing, recording, creating or just simply playing around with making music on your iPad then this app has so much to offer you!

SynthMaster One for iOS – $9.99

The best news is that it is on sale until December 1st for only $9.99! (70% off)

Released in 2017 and heralded as one of the years best synths this is chock full of synth sounds that will make the hair on your neck stand up in excitement! 500 factory sounds to be precise. Features galore will keep you connected with other iOS apps to your hearts content… AUv3, InterApp Audio and AudioBus connectivity means it’s all there!

This is almost the same app as their desktop version in fact! On iOS you only get 16 voices vs 32 on the desktop and only 500 vs 800 sounds. Otherwise it is a full blown synth app worthy of anyone’s music making abilities! Along with a 16 step Arpeggiator/Sequencer it also has Microtuning capabilities. It will even support the MPE controllers like ROLI’s Seabord Blocks.

You will need an iPad Air or higher if you really want to take full advantage of what it offers though.

Of course what good is reading about music without actually hearing It? Listen to these demos on SoundCloud….

Gestrument Pro – Performing on iOS with alternative interfaces

If you have followed this blog at all for any length of time you will know that one of the quests I’ve been on is using iOS to perform in ways never before possible.

Gestrument Pro is going to be released on Sept. 25 and is currently available for pre-order at like half price. $8.99 vs. $16.99!

PerplexOn has access and has posted a wonderful video of him jamming out by the fire! This is the video that convinced me to pre-order.

The developers, Jesper Nordin and leading iOS developer Jonatan Liljedahl (Kymatica), are amazing musicians and outstanding developers. So I am holding high hopes for a very useful alternative that will allow for some interesting music making. I am not holding my breath for an instrument that is one of those “pick-it-up and understand it now” sort of instruments.

Here is their description off their website…

Gestrument Pro takes everything we loved about Gestrument and improves on its original functionality while introducing a host of new features such as multi-touch, recordable automations, advanced scale editing and our unique system of highly tweakable modular generators that define the pitches and rhythms.

With Gestrument Pro you can Play, Improvise and Compose music with deeper levels of personal expression than ever before.

To wet your appetite even more, before you go hit the pre-order button, here is a YouTube video…

Confusing iPad Recording

When you have Cubasis controlling SampleTank it starts simple. Then you add in an external MIDI keyboard, the QuNexus. Then you run three parts in SampleTank, all MIDI tracks so that you can edit them for cleaning your recordings up. At some point I decided to add in InterApp Audio and that never did work so I resorted to good ole’ AudioBus. Then I fired up up Magellan and Animoog. Of course to share the masterpiece I had to turn those MIDI tracks into audio first using AudioBus. Then it all got shared to SoundCloud for the world to enjoy and I wrote about it using Blogsy and posted it to WordPress (not the app though, the actual website)

So….. Got it!?

Recorded three MIDI tracks then two audio tracks then mixed the MIDI down to audio then mixed the whole thing down to an m4a file.

Used Cubasis, SampleTank, AudioBus, Animoog, Magellan for the recording.

Tried using InterApp Audio but failed.

Then shared it with the world using SoundCloud, Blogsy and WordPress.

Confused? So start small and take baby steps…… That’s how we learn.

Eb Open by tpshimmons

Composition in Band Class Update

SandsWell it’s been about three weeks I think since I first posted about getting the students started on their composition assignments.

My first and utmost thought on this entire project is that if I don’t get them writing they will never get any better! So far we are now on the fifth week. The only requirement right now is that they write out a melody and make it look neat. It is now time to up the ante…. Next week I will start marking points for correctly notating the melody- things like making sure the stems are on the correct side of the note heads, correctly observing time signature …. You know the details. Up until now I have simply been making comments on their papers about these details. There has been a steady improvement in quality. As I share each others compositions with the class and they get to see what they are all doing, you can see things click in their brains! Especially when a 5th graders writes out something amazing and a high schooler wrote out something lame.

Some of the kids are using the free version of NotateMe, others are using NoteFlight and the rest are using paper and pencil. I like NotateMe because it reinforces writing musical notation correctly and neatly enough that the app can actually recognize the symbols being drawn.

From here on out I will be having the High School students take a picture of their creation and posting it on their blogs…. A huge reduction in paper work! Most of the kids are using WordPress for their blogs.

In a couple weeks we will cross the bridge of….. Can you play what you wrote. Did you play it first or write it first and does it make musical sense ( especially in the higher grade levels)

Of course I have to compose as well…. Here is my composition for this week inspired by my friend who is in India…

Creating music with iPads

There have been some outstanding new developments in the world of music for iOS users this past few months!

First has been the actual release of AudioBus for iOS. As they say on the iTunes Store… This is a revolutionary new inter-app audio routing system allowing you to connect your AudioBus compatible apps together with virtual cables. In other words…. I can be playing a synth on my iPad, like Magellan, and record it into my MultiTrack DAW on the same iPad! This opens up very different possibilities of being able to record from a long list of currently compatable apps into other apps on one iPad instead of having to have two devices or using audio copy/paste. Check out their website for currently compatible apps as the list is changing almost daily!

In the late 80‘s I remember spending many hours programming keyboards for the ministry team at college that I was involved in. It was great fun to get inside of a synth patch and make all sorts of tweaks to it to come up with a new patch that was my own. Little did I imagine then, that I would be able to do this on an iPad with a color, touch screen! Check out the list of apps othe AudioBus page. I think there are some outstanding apps there that will make some outstanding music! Imagine if we could get these apps into the hands of our students in a non-traditional music class!

Audulus App

Another major development is the development of apps that allow your creativity to fly to new heights! One of those apps that blew me away today is Audiolus. Audulud is a modular synthesis app that is available for the iPad as well as the Mac. This app allows you to create synth sounds from scratch, one step at a time! I can not begin to imagine the possibilities of this app in a music class combined with science concepts being integrated all in one mega fun unit! Your science teacher and you, the music teacher, could have a hay day with this app! You have got to watch the tutorials on their tutorial page! This tutorial in particular floored me when I started to get a grasp on what this app is capable of…. I love how it starts with a demonstration of the outcome and then it takes you back step by step to build the patch starting from absolutely nothing! (Wait…. isn’t that the model for a great lesson plan?)

Lastly, I would like to leave you with a couple of great examples of amazing performances from people who are truly creating amazing music using iOS and iPads/iPhones. Both of these groups have active YouTube channels that I would suggest you subscribing to

The first person is Rheyne – Rheyne uses live looping with analog keyboards, USB controllers and iOS devices. The videos on his channel are all performed live! The integration he has between all the apps and devices is stunning! His music is digital and does not attempt to re-create an acoustic instrument performance!

The second group is the DigiEnsemble Berlin – This is a group of professional musicians trying to turn mobile devices into instruments. This group has music of both the electronic nature as well as classical and everything in between. You can see them recreating a classical string ensmeble using iphones and ipads for instance or performing Starlight (from the alternative rock band Muse) and then performing a magical, musical interpretation of Silent Night.

This sort of musical creativity needs to be taught in our schools alongside the traditional Band, Choir and General Music classes. Of course that means new classes need to be created and staffed! The biggest reason we need these sort of classes is that our students would be forced to become the innovators, the ones creating and designing the final product. There are not many programs like these in place yet so the development of this type of course is going to muddy water and the learning process will be messy. Let’s wade in and get dirty!


Very Exciting Prospects in iPad Music Notation

I was contacted by developer about their app Symphonix Evolution. This is one more app entry into the music notation category.

This app does something new that I have been waiting for in a music notation app. It allows me to hit the record button, play the keyboard and then I get music notation! This is the really exciting news! I’ve been waiting for this capability since I bought my first iPad. I just figured that it would be either Finale or Sibelius that would make it happen first!

The bad news is that the notation that is the result of such a recording makes me remember the first time I ever saw a music notation app back when I was in college (think late 80’s!) Now don’t get me wrong, we were pretty excited about the capabilities back then as well! The problem is that there are some weird rests that end up needing to be edited out. There are some weird rhythms that show up too, things that no musician would want to read. Of course technically these things are all correct, that’s exactly what I played – it’s just not what I want to see. Software notation programs have come a long ways since the 80’s! Now we are spoiled! We get to use Sibelius, record a part, and have Sibelius interpret it for us into a sensible piece of music.

What makes me so excited about what is going on here is that if Symphonix Evolution can make this happen then I KNOW Finale and Sibelius are hard at work doing their magic too!

Back to Symphonix Evolution. I think that this app holds promise for use in a music class. It is a 16 track sequencer, MIDI is fully supported, Music XML support is coming soon as well. You can also input notes one at a time to get exactly the look you want from the beginning. There is much potential here. Here is a YouTube video that talks about some of the features.

I will also say that this app does not feel like a polished app. There were many times I was left frustrated about a button that would not work well (probably because of my fat fingers) or else I had to sit there pushing a few different buttons to try to figure how to do something. There were times I just couldn’t figure out how to do something, which after using the app for a while I’m sure would not be a problem. But students in a music class are going to have the same thoughts and frustrations as I did.

One other downfall I believe is that the app is $12.99. This is a pretty high price in my eyes.

I’m not sure where this app falls in my list of useful or not useful. Of course in my situation, I own Sibelius. So if I want to create music notation I am going to be doing that on my Mac. If I had students that did not own Sibelius though I might suggest this app. It does not take up the absurd amount of space that Notion does, that’s for sure! Of course this app does support MIDI files. That means there are a zillion MIDI files on the web that students could be downloading, importing into Symphonix Evolution and turning into musical notation for further study. All on an iPad!