It is a question I can see in people’s heads when I tell them that that’s how I make music, or how I use my PDA. They look at me with that “Why would you want to do that look”, and it is a good question I suppose.
Put simply it is easier for me to be able to carry around my entire studio in one place rather (my bag), and make music wherever I am, and whenever I want.
Having children means you spend a lot of time sitting in a car waiting for them at some party, activity, club etc. That time always used to be a creative wasteland for me. Now it isn’t. I can use it even if I only have 15 minutes I can work away quickly and quietly and still pack up in time to pick up my children. It makes sense.
Of course, it is not like it is a field that has a huge following. It is somewhat isolating, but it does serve me.
BeatPad was one of the first pieces of musical software I purchased for the palm platform. I used it on my first palm, a IIIx which I personally upgraded to 8mb, but that’s another story. At the time, I thought it was totally amazing, which in fact it is still, it has just got better and better. In many ways it hasn’t changed very much, but from a different perspective it has changed vastly.
Essentially BeatPad is a simple sequencer for the palm. It has a single monophonic music sequence and a drum pattern editor. It arranges patterns into four banks, A through D, and each bank has 8 patterns in it.
In version 1.1 you can tell the app to move from one pattern to the next, but you can’t give it specific instructions like “A1 four times, then A2 etc”. I’m sure that this sort of thing will come in a later version. For now you can tell it to play the patterns in order, and that’s fine. You can copy patterns too.
Within each pattern you can adjust parameters for each note in the pattern, such as velocity, duration, pitch etc, and you can choose instruments for your tracks too.
It isn’t going to make you a pop star, but it is good fun with a very interesting interface, and combined with SoundPad it is a powerful combination.
My children have been using this for ages. It is a wonderfully simple game.
I have always thought that the best games for children are the ones where they learn something without actually knowing that they were learning anything. That’s what bugband does. Notes appear on a stave as a series of bugs. They crawl along and you have to tap the right note on the keyboard that corresponds with the note that they are crawling on.
It couldn’t be more simple, but I’ve watched my daughter play with this for at least half an hour at a time, and be really pleased when she gets up a level.
Really worth a try for children and adults too.
I thought I’d write about Microbe today. Microbe was the first piece of software I bought from Chocopoolp, and I think the first thing that was released from there. It is a fantastic application for jotting down ideas quickly. It is really about making electronic music, but it can be adapted to do interesting things…
What’s in Microbe?
– 2 Mono synths
– Drum machine
– X-Y Pad
– Export to Bhajis Loops (for when you want to expand your ideas)
– Render to WAV!
How do I use Microbe?
Usually I use microbe when I want to play around for a minute or two with ideas and not get hung up on being technical and having to worry about settings and the like. That’s a nice thing about Microbe. Things are simple and straightforward. I like that. When something is done in Microbe it can then be moved out into Bhajis Loops, or if that’s really it it can stay there and be rendered to a wav file right on your device.
If it needs to get more attention then it can be exported to Bhajis and from there you can do almost anything with it.
I read some of the materials from this site. It is quite academic, and really aimed at simple end applications for mass markets. Not that that is a bad thing of course.
One of the applications discusses mobile music making collaboratively. I’ve always liked the idea of real time collaboration using mobile media. There was an interesting proof of concept on the Bhajis Garden site (click the title for the link).
The idea was to have a bluetooth transport within Bhajis Loops that would allow users to collaborate and interact. Sadly this never made it into a build of Bhajis Loops.
But would people use it? Is it a killer app? I don’t think so. I just can’t see how it would work, especially with essentially non-musical types. If it was a killer app then people would have found a way to do it already.
This sounds like it might have been a very interesting event to be at. In hindsight I should have made the effort and tried to get along to it, but never mind.
Although schoolarly I find it intriguing as to the academic directions that are being taken in mobile music making, and in fact the sheer number of people involved.
In many ways it represents an opportunity to encourage interest in the palm platform as a mobile music OS.
I think I shall be digging in more detail into this site and doing a bit of networking at the same time.
NotePad 1.4 is finally released. Excellent! Really worth checking out. What will they do next???
Yesterday I spent two hours on the train between Croydon and Brighton. I like long train rides, and although this was only an hour each way it is long enough to get something done.
I spent the time working on some tracks that have been hanging around for a while. Mainly stuff that I’ve done from field recordings.
The other thing I did was tested the final beta of NotePad 1.4. The new features make it much more usable than before. However, my favourite new feature is the keyboard control from the Treo 650 keyboard. When I first looked at it I thought it was going to be difficult to use. But, after only a few minutes it all made perfect sense.
NotePad 1.4 will probably be around in a few days. It is really worth a look.
This application ranks in my top 5 for palm creativity. It has got to be one of the most unusal and ambitious uses for a palm handheld device.
SoundPad is an FM Synthesiser for a palm OS PDA. It allows you to create FM synthesised sounds which can then be used be other applications (NotePad and BeatPad initially).
This follows the software synthesis model of having an application which works as a sequencer / or host and other applications which work with the sequencer to provide sounds.
SoundPad runs in under 100k. It allows to create banks of sounds which you can then populate. The first screen is a bit of an admin screen really, giving you bank functions and allocating instruments to slots in the bank.
The second screen is the real eye opener. This screen is where you manipulate waveforms and their envelopes to allow you to create sounds. Each sound can be made up of up to four oscilators. Each oscillator can be set to noise if you choose.
Each wave has an ADSR Envelope. This can be manipulated using the superb interface.
Once you’ve made your sound other applications can access it, such as NotePad or BeatPad.
NotePad 1.4 is due to come out next week. Fantastic …