Bugband

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.

Link: http://www.minimusic.com/bugband.html

Microbe 1.3: A Perfect Musical Sketch book

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
  • Effects
  • 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.

Mobile Music Technology Workshop 2

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.

Mobile Music Technology Workshop

http://www.viktoria.se/fal/events/mobilemusic/

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 released !

NotePad 1.4 is finally released. Excellent! Really worth checking out. What will they do next???

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.

NotePad 1.4

NotePad 1.4 is due to come out next week. Fantastic …

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.

The Palm as a field recording platform

Last week I was away on holiday with my family. We went to the Isle of Wight, which is a family favourite. One thing that my family expect from me on holiday is doing slightly strange things.

Like what? Well, field recording with a mobile phone (Treo 650) for one thing. It isn’t easy to record sounds on a device that was built to be a mobile phone. But, it is possible, and this year I managed to get quite a good selection of recordings from our holiday.

However, recording software for the palm platform is not always easy to come by. This year I used Bhajis Loops, and whilst good it is not ideal for field work. I have also used Wave Edit Pro, and that too is good, but somehow not entirely satisfactory.

And so the search goes on.