I thought I’d make a video that goes into a bit of depth on how to use the MIDI thing with an iPad (in this instance) and actually shows how the box works and how you can use it very simply to start to layer up a track using an app like Sound Canvas from Roland.
As you’ll remember from my post and video the other day we’ve been making good progress with the MIDI thing. I thought I’d share another video. This time I’m using the MIDI thing to control Korg’s iM1 app, which, like the Roland Sound Canvas is a nice multi-timbral app, so I can assign different instruments to different MIDI channels.
Whilst this is a bit more of an ambient piece it still shows that it’s pretty easy to use the MIDI thing to layer a track in real time.
It’s been quite a while since I mentioned the MIDI thing device that I’m part of. MIDI thing has been going through tests with a number of people for the last few weeks and we’ve got some very useful feedback on how it works and how people who’ve been testing it feel about it.
So I thought now would be a good time to show a little of what we’ve doing with MIDI thing, and, more importantly, what it actually does.
If you’ve not heard of MIDI thing before and this is all new to you then I’ll give you a little background. If you know all this already then feel to skip over it.
MIDI thing is a hardware project that I’ve been a part of with an old friend who’s done the design work. It came out of a bunch of ideas around open source hardware and software and making neat small mobile music devices which are ideally battery powered. That’s just what MIDI thing is.
There’s the battery now here’s what it does:
Midi thing connects between the MIDI-out of a keyboard controller and the midi-in of a sound generator module or an iOS device that can run as a multi-timbral MIDI module.
The MIDI thing has just one switch and this is for turning the power on and off. You control the looper by activating a “command” mode. Using command mode the note keys operate the various looper functions instead of producing sound.
The “switch” to activate command mode is either a pre-selected note (e.g. unused note at the top or bottom of the keyboard) or control change (cc) knob/button; it is chosen when the unit is switched on.
The loop can be 2, 4 or 8 bars long. It can run in 3⁄4 or 4/4 time. There is a tap tempo function or the looper will synchronise automatically to an external MIDI clock and respond to start, continue and stop commands. All midi information (on all 16 channels) can be recorded up to a maximum of 400 MIDI events.
Each MIDI channel has a separate A/B recording zone which can be freely switched. Individual channel (and A/B) recordings can be quantised or deleted. A bi-colour led shows tempo and progress through the bars. A metronome (General Midi hi-hat) can be activated as MIDI-out on channel 10.
Hopefully that gives you a reasonable idea of what the thing does. Now we’ll have a look at it working. In this short video the MIDI thing is running multiple channels on Roland’s Sound Canvas app for iOS. The nice thing about the Sound Canvas app is that each sound can be assigned to an individual channel, just like a hardware module really, which wouldn’t be a surprise as the Sound Canvas was of course originally a hardware module.
What I’m doing here is laying down a series of tracks over multiple MIDI channels. Each of the channels has a different instrument assigned in the Sound Canvas.
Swapping between channels is actually very easy. All I do is use a pre-determined control key to change channel on the MIDI thing. I don’t need to fiddle with any controls I’m just using the CZ101. I’m going to do another video soon to show just how that works, so expect that soon.
Hopefully this gives a little idea of what the MIDI thing does, even with my terrible playing. There’ll be more soon.
You do have to join MIDI.org in order to get it but that’s free too, so it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to get hold of. Before this the spec would set you back $60 apparently, so this is real progress.
Does it mean that MIDI 2.0 is coming though? Who knows.
Some of you may remember that quite some time ago I was posting about a new device that I’ve been working on. A thing called simply “MIDI Thing”. You might remember these videos, the first of Jo (Mr Concretedog) playing with the MIDI thing live on the South Bank …
And then this video showing the MIDI Thing being used with a variety of iOS stuff:
Well after a long pause and some time to change the design and firmware we’re ready to get some people to test our little box and give us as much feedback as possible.
So what is MIDI Thing? Put simply MIDI Thing is a MIDI looper that lets you layer up MIDI tracks over multiple channels to create any kind of music you want. It’s portable and battery powered and has a unique control interface that we’ve tried to make as simple as possible (there are no buttons on the box at all)!
If you’re interested in being a part of the process to bring this product to market then we’d really like to hear from you and hopefully get a device into your hands to test and give us feedback.
Click the link below to fill out a simple form and we’ll get back to you soon!
Actually I think that both of the iRig MIDI devices from IK were (are) pretty good, and both have served me really well. Of course I realise that as time goes on less people are reliant on MIDI, especially sync as we move more and more to an Ableton Link based world. Who knows how that will look in a year’s time?
But I remember first getting the iRig MIDI, the original and being very impressed with it. Of course, back then the only similar device was the Line 6 MIDI Mobiliser. That was good too, but the iRig MIDI was just ahead.
Of course version 2 got even better and has been immensely useful to me, and it is a lot simpler to work with as well. I still use it now.