0 comments on “Why DJ’ing via a Pizza box might not be such a funny idea after all”

Why DJ’ing via a Pizza box might not be such a funny idea after all

A couple of days ago I was sent this video (below) of the a pizza box DJ set up.

Yes, that’s right. You might have seen it before, and you might have thought it was a bit of a gimmick too. That’s fine. I think that for Pizza Hut it probably was, but beneath the gimmick is a serious technology that has almost endless applications that we haven’t really thought through.

Some time ago I’m fairly sure that I shared this video …

I first saw this at Music Tech Fest in 2014 and then Novalia unsuccessfully brought their technology to Kickstarter, which was a real shame. They still have an amazing technology that could do some seriously cool things and I hope that we’ll see more of them in time.

But of course they’re not the only ones. Bare Conductive have their conductive ink and TouchBoard combo that is not only easy to use and very versatile, but entirely affordable too. If that wasn’t enough they’re also about to launch their PiCap too, in fact I think it arrives tomorrow.

Using inks to create your own MIDI interface can be amazing. I used Bare Conductive’s ink and TouchBoard back in November at an event with Heart n Soul in NESTA’s offices in London. I used two ink pads as proximity sensors to control volume and filter on a track in Live. It worked out really well, although it was difficult to calibrate to begin with.

But what it shows is that there are some amazing possibilities to use a conductive ink solution with MIDI. I probably haven’t spent enough time exploring what you can do with it enough. But it is on my to do list.

So I’m saying that whilst the pizza box is a nice gimmick, it shows that this can do a lot, a hell of a lot, and perhaps the gimmick will lead to something much better for controlling music.

6 comments on “Dear SoundCloud, exactly what is going on?”

Dear SoundCloud, exactly what is going on?


It’s only fair to say that SoundCloud have not been quite as popular over the last year or more with the iOS mobile music community, or indeed creators of audio anywhere. From my own perspective I’ve kept a Pro account, but I’ve not been impressed by SoundCloudGo, or indeed their approach to musicians. The strategy seems confused at best and the latest set of news about SoundCloud doesn’t help at all.

I’ll start off with SoundCloud Groups

I got this email from them a week ago …

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier for you to share your work and connect with new fans. As well as adding new features and updates, we review existing features to see if they’re still beneficial to you.

As we dug into the best ways for creators to connect with fans, we found that Groups aren’t helping creators find an audience as well as reposts, curated playlists, or track recommendations.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to phase out Groups on Monday, August 22nd to make room for future updates. Until then, you can collect, like or repost the tracks you would like to save, and connect with your fellow Group members.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve your experience on SoundCloud. Send your ideas and feedback by replying directly to this email.”

This is a major issue as far as I’m concerned. Groups were a great way for users of different apps to collect work together. Some had been incredibly successful like the Figure Addicted group. I can’t understand SoundCloud’s reasoning for removing groups, and what they say in their email I don’t agree with. It’s poor and, in my view, will force more users away from their platform.

But they have added ‘albums’

I’m not sure just how this is different from playlists aside from the name. I’m not sure what it adds in reality, and, given that they’re removing groups, it doesn’t compensate at all in my view. You may think differently. If you do I’m interested to know your reasons.

Finally, they’re up for sale

If nothing else this makes me think that they’re going to end up as part of a bigger service and forget about people creating audio altogether, and more than likely just be swallowed up and disappear. That is of course if they even find a buyer. According to this piece at hypebot their valuation is $1bn, which is, in my opinion, ridiculously high.

I think they’ll struggle at that high a valuation and have to drop down. If they do get sold they’ll have to adapt to a new master and that won’t be good for any of us at all.

So, what now? What next?

I’ve posted before about alternatives to SoundCloud, and I think that these are going to become all the more important in the coming months. Personally I’ll be looking for more and more ways to move my audio to other more artist friendly platforms, and I’ll be sharing possibilities with you regularly.

Also there are a few new platforms and technologies that I’m working with that I expect to be useful in taking up the slack from SoundCloud’s slow withdrawal from supporting artists. I’ll be talking about those soon I hope.

1 comment on “From tomorrow the Retronyms integrated universe emerges”

From tomorrow the Retronyms integrated universe emerges

You may well be aware that Retronyms are about to announce their next app, Hook, tomorrow. They’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now, and have been posting weekly videos about it, starting with this one:

Which was a nice little intro if a bit lite on the details of the app. They made up for that with their next video:

Which started to show the functionality of the app in a bit more detail, and then progressed to their latest video showing iTunes and Spotify workflow:

All of this gets delivered to us tomorrow along with their hardware product Wej. The 21st will be a big day for the Retronyms, and I’ll be watching.

But as I’ve watched the videos, read the press releases and also played with the app itself something started to dawn on me, and if you’ve already spotted it then please forgive me for being kind of slow on the uptake.

From tomorrow Retronyms will have their own iOS, content, and hardware ecosystem all in place, all integrated and all available. It’s quite impressive in many ways, or at least I think so. Here’s what they will have achieved as of tomorrow:


It can be easy to forget that Retronyms are responsible for AudioCopy, something that lots of apps use, and that lots of us rely on. But AudioCopy isn’t just a handy utility for moving stuff about, no, it’s a content store too. Whether you use it or not, it’s there and it has a lot of content available from some pretty decent names too.


As of tomorrow Retronyms will have Hook on the store, their new mashup / remix tool for iOS. I’ll reserve judgement on that until tomorrow I think. But let’s not forget that they also have Tabletop, their own sort of modular music making environment. Also integrated with AudioCopy.

What remains to be seen is how (or indeed, if) Hook will integrate with Tabletop? I think it might be a missed trick if it didn’t, but let’s see what they do from tomorrow.


Last but not least Retronyms have their Wej hardware. A device which is tightly integrated with Hook and goes on general sale as of tomorrow.

And one (or possibly more) last thing(s) …

Let’s not forget that Retronyms also arrange some pretty cool mobile music meet ups and events and have a few other (possibly slightly unloved) apps in their repertoire, such as Phase84, iMPC Pro, Stryke, and my personal favourite DopplerPad which was original released in 2009! Personally I think DopplerPad would be amazing if it got updated, but I’ve probably said that one time too many.

Tomorrow will be interesting, but I’ll be really keen to see how this whole integrated Retronyms universe develops further. For now, one step at a time.

Hook and Wej tomorrow, good luck Retronyms.

1 comment on “Serious play at SoundLab with Ableton, Mogees and the AC Sabre”

Serious play at SoundLab with Ableton, Mogees and the AC Sabre

As you’re probably aware I’ve been involved with Heart n Soul and their SoundLab project for some time now. I help to pull together events like the one you can see above. This was a SoundLab Play Space event where we bring together technology and people with learning disabilities to see how well a small handful of technologies work for us.

It’s a format we’ve been experimenting with this year, and I have to say it really is taking off now. But not just for us at Heart n Soul and for the technology companies we’re working with. We’re hearing from more and more people who are interested in working with us and understanding how to improve accessibility in music technology.

In the session you can see above, which was at the end of June we worked with:

  • Ableton – Using Push
  • Mogees – Using their sensor and app
  • Air-Craft – Experimenting with the upcoming AC Sabre app

At these sessions we aim to only have two or three companies per session and that seems to work well for everyone involved and means that just about everyone gets to test just about everything.

The most important thing at these events is to make sure that everyone has fun, but as part of having fun we spend some serious time in understanding these technologies and finding out what works for our participants and in making some often very useful suggestions into how they could be made better. It’s that element that works really well for the technology companies who are involved with us, and we already have a list of people who want to work with us in the future.

So what is ‘Serious Play’?

Well, in the context of these events it’s a whole range ofthings, including being able to mix having fun, being creative, understanding new technology and how it can be used with testing and providing useful feedback. Yep, there’s a lot in there. It isn’t an easy balance to strike, but it’s one that I think we manage very well.

But why do it?

You may be wondering this? It’s a good question. The reason stems for a very firm belief that music technology is for everyone, that making music is for everyone, and that making music should be as accessible as possible. I talked a lot about that in the interview I did with Marc Weidenbaum last year, which you can find here if you’re interested.

Heart n Soul’s SoundLab events are all about exploring accessibility and helping to find ways to enable creative vision through better technology. Often the difference between something that is very accessible and something that isn’t is only a tiny shift, often something very easy to achieve and yet not alway obvious. That’s why we do this, we try and show how to make technologies more accessible.

We’re at the start of this journey in many ways, and there’s a long way to go to perfect this process. The only way to understand how to make music technology more accessible is to work with it regularly and continually refine and explore the process of uncovering what works and what doesn’t. That’s what we’re doing and will continue to do to make music more accessible for everyone.

That’s the plan. If you’d like to help us, be a part of it, or just give us a shout out, then I’d love to hear from you.


0 comments on “PalmSounds talks to Adrian Belew about writing the soundtrack to Pixar’s ‘Piper’, Flux by Belew and FLUX:FX”

PalmSounds talks to Adrian Belew about writing the soundtrack to Pixar’s ‘Piper’, Flux by Belew and FLUX:FX

I’ve been a fan of Adrian Belew’s work for a very long time, and when he started releasing iOS apps it was a great opportunity to understand more of his creative process. So it was amazing to get the chance to interview him and talk about his soundtrack for Pixar’s new short ‘Piper’, his unique ‘Flux by Belew’ app which contains a wealth of original content both audio and visual, and his ‘FLUX:FX’ apps which I’ve used extensively and have been very well received by the mobile music community.

Having never spoken to Adrian before it became apparent almost immediately that here was an artist who’s creative vision was truly phenomenal. Adrian’s ideas for ‘Flux by Belew’ span more than 3 decades, and when you use the app you can really appreciate that.

Adrian’s ‘FLUX:FX’ apps have expanded the creative horizons for a lot of mobile musicians, myself included. It’s an app with a huge amount of depth and superb possibilities, which Adrian described …

“There’s just nothing else that does what FLUX:FX does”, 

“…an amazing set of miracles in our pocket!”

“I love that idea, when you do the impossible”

And for the record I think he’s right. But it was interesting to know that “(he) was really enthralled by the idea that so much technology and ability could be put into an app and you could charge such a low price for something that would take you thousands of dollars to do if you had all the gear, and even then there’s no way to do it!”

But don’t just take my word for it, listen to the interview and hear what he has to say on all of these subjects:

If you don’t know these apps you should definitely take a look Flux by Belew (his app of constantly changing music, sounds and visuals), FLUX:FX (iPad version) and FLUX:FX play, his excellent FX apps for iOS. They’re all really worth checking out.

I hope you enjoy the interview, and a massive thank you to Adrian Belew for making time available to talk, it was a lot of fun for me!

0 comments on “Recollections of PalmSounds: Mark from Moo Cow Music”

Recollections of PalmSounds: Mark from Moo Cow Music

Mark from Moo Cow was one of if not the first to put together a music app on iOS, not just before it was called iOS, but before there were even apps on the iPhone. So it’s really fitting to end this month of celebrations for PalmSounds turning 10 years old with a comment from him:

“Well done on reaching such an impressive milestone, which is scary as now I realise I’ve been reading your blog daily for eight of those years! It’s been my place to go for industry news and has kept me somewhat sane through the development of Pianist Pro and Looptical. I hope you keep the site around even when you inevitably move on to bigger things as it has become a great history of mobile music development. For my own little bit of that history, I found your blog entry on the 2008 WWDC:

Although now we have huge corporations developing branded app versions of their synths and sequencers, back at the start there were just a few solo developers tinkering with undocumented APIs and giving our apps away for free. Even the users of our apps were just random unknowns, equally excited by the promise of a new way of making music. This video from 2008 by iBand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh0VX74alwk) has to date 7 million views, and 16,000 comments, with most of the early comments were declaring it a fake because people simply could not believe you could play live music on phones. It was videos such as this that drove me to create ever more complex musical instruments for pioneers such as iBand to use. Making virtual instruments has also driven me as an amateur musician to push my own boundaries, as you can see by comparing a couple of demo videos i recorded over the years:-

Feb 2008: Coldplay Clocks on iAno (early version of Pianist) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-CFD_1tP9w&feature=youtu.be&t=40
Sep 2013: Nessum Dorma on Looptical


I’ve had a lot of amazing musicians use my apps, but by far my favourite has to be the SoftBank Dog (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOTrpwf5lVA). Only the Japanese would advertise a mobile provider with a dog playing a tiny piano on a phone.

Good luck for the future and keep up the great work!”

0 comments on “Recollections of PalmSounds: Music Studio”

Recollections of PalmSounds: Music Studio

I can remember when Music Studio first arrived on the app store. It was a massive step forward, and so it’s great to get this from Alex:

“Back in 2009 when we released Music Studio for iPhone (iPad was not born yet and Android was unknown), PalmSounds was one of the first blogs to review Music Studio. It helped people to discover that DAWs are a reality on mobile devices and it helped us to gain traction with Music Studio. Congratulations and a big thank you to PalmSounds from Xewton!”

0 comments on “Recollections of PalmSounds: Gary from MicSwap”

Recollections of PalmSounds: Gary from MicSwap

I was really impressed when I first saw MicSwap on the app store, and when I used it I was truly amazed by the results! It was great to get this comment from Gary:

“Happy 10th birthday and anniversary to Palm Sounds! Ashley has been on the forefront of this growth in mobile music creation not only benefitting us as music app developers, but music creators in general.

We truly appreciate all Palm Sounds has done to spread the word of MicSwap and mobile music creation apps in general. Cheers to 10 more years!”


0 comments on “Recollections of PalmSounds: The Korg App Dev Team”

Recollections of PalmSounds: The Korg App Dev Team

Korg have been one of the most amazing supporters of making music on iOS and before with the DS platform, so it was great to get this comment from their developer team:

“Congratulations to PalmSounds for their 10th anniversary!
Thank you for your continued introduction of KORG apps.
We hope to continue to evolve by creating apps that surprise everyone.
We are looking forward to future developments!

KORG app dev team”

0 comments on “Recollections of PalmSounds: Hamilton (MultiTrack DAW)”

Recollections of PalmSounds: Hamilton (MultiTrack DAW)

I’ve been a MultiTrack DAW user since it first arrived on iOS and it’s just got better and better so it was great to receive this from Hamilton:

“PalmSounds was the first to blog about the app, back when iPhone music was just beginning around 2009. So I owe a lot to you for starting the ball rolling not just for us but all music app developers on iPhone. Seems like only yesterday, good times man, good times. I’ve been following you ever since, if there is anything happening on the iOS music scene, PalmSounds is there, telling me about it. Thanks for all the good information and hope it continues”

If you don’t know MultiTrack DAW then you should check it out. It has an amazing UI and is one of the best multitrack apps I know of.