Music on the train

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.

SoundPad

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.

MiniMusic NotePad 1.4 coming soon

The chaps over at MiniMusic are cooking up another update to their excellent NotePad application. The new version includes:

  • Scrolling Playback – Music will now scroll with playback.
  • Page View – tap on new page icon or write/type the letter “z” to “zoom out” to a page view showing twenty measures of the song. The current measure is highlighted. Tap on a measure to zoom in on that bar (see lower screen shot to the left).
  • Tempo Changes – Use the Change menu to set tempo changes anywhere in a song. Select a note and choose “Tempo Change” to change the tempo when that note is played. Select the same note and use the “Clear Change” menu item to remove a temo change (a change to 122bpm is shown in the top screenshot to the left).
  • Instrument Change – Use the Change menu to set instrument changes anywhere in a song. Select a note and choose “Instrument Change” to change the instrument that will be used for this note and all following notes in this voice. Select the same note and use the “Clear Change” menu item to remove a temo change (a change to “Reed Organ” is shown in voice 4 in the top screenshot to the left).
  • Keyboard support – Consult the graphic below to see the functions you can access from the keyboard or by using Graffiti hand writing. You can now exit the song, add rests, or change duration tools from the keyboard or Graffiti.
  • Follow note entry – Song will scroll to keep up with notes being entered on the piano, entered using graffiti or entered on a keyboard (like the on Treo).
  • Card Launch – NotePad can now be installed on a memory card (like an SD card in most current models). Both NotePad and its database (mMusicDB.pdb) should be installed into the “/Palm/Launcher” directory on the card (this is the default for all applications).
  • Grid Screen Fix – No longer fills measures with rests; only adds needed rests as you draw.
  • Song Scroll Bar – Quickly navigate to any measure in the song (shown in both screen shots to the left).
  • Directional Pad – Use the left/right controls on your handheld/phone to scroll through a song (up/down still transposes notes).
  • Select Color – On handhelds/phones with color screens, selected notes will be colored red (shown in top screenshot to the left, first three notes in voice 1 are selected).
  • Library Scroll Bar – Quickly find a song anywhere in the category.

Should be fantastic when it is done, and hopefully that’ll be soon.

Psytexx

One thing I’ve never been able to get my head around is how to use Psytexx. Perhaps it is because I never really grew up with software trackers in the early Spectrum / Atari days. Still, it is something I wish I could get to grips with.

In a world where this is precious little music software for the Palm platform it seems a shame to not use something like this.

Find Psytexx here:

http://www.warmplace.ru/

What’s this about then?

For many years I’ve been interested in using handheld devices to create music. Simple.

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