SoundLab working with Blocs Wave, MiMu and AlphaSphere

So, last week was a really busy week for me, but one of the highlights for me was on Wednesday when we ran the first SoundLab session of this year. This was quite a different from the sessions we run before as we’re taking a different approach and one that we hope will be really useful to the music technology as a whole.

Since the SoundLab project started we’ve utilised a wide variety of digital technology for creating music. The first part of the project was all about understanding issues around accessibility in digital music technology, and that’s still a very big part of what we’re about. But now we’re adding something new, and this is what we were piloting with Blocs Wave, MiMu and AlphaSphere on Wednesday.

The latest iteration of SoundLab is about inviting in new and existing music technologies and working with those companies alongside our artists and participants so that we can provide useful feedback on how those technologies and products can either be improved to make them more accessible or can be presented in such a way that they become more accessible.

At SoundLab we have a unique perspective on music technology. Our artists and participants love making music and love trying out new technology. So we’re very able to provide good feedback. Whilst information and feedback on accessibility is important it actually has real commercial benefits, because when you can make music technology more accessible you can get to a wider audience, and that means selling more, which is really important if you want to keep you business going.

At SoundLab we want to provide real actionable and commercial feedback to developers and music technology companies, and that’s what we’re planning to do this year.

In this session we worked with some amazing companies, Blocs Wave, AlphaSphere, and MiMu, and they were all really interesting to work with.

MiMu Gloves ….

I’ve been interested in the MiMu gloves for a long time now and we were really lucky to be able to have Kris Halpin with us for the day to demo the gloves and work with us to show how they can be used.

I have to say that since I’ve seen these gloves for real I am just so impressed with how they can be used and how expressive they are. But the gloves are real instruments, not just a gestural toy. To learn to use them takes time and care. The gloves can deliver some amazing expression to an artist and we were only able to scratch the surface of their potential last week.

Blocs Wave …

When Novation announced their new Blocs brand and the Blocs Wave app I knew that this was going to be important for mobile music. I’m a huge fan of apps that democratise music making and Blocs Wave does just that.

So it was great to have Toby from Blocs with us for the day.

Blocs is such an immediate app for creating sound and enjoying it so it was really good to work with them for the day, and especially it being only a day or so after Blocs Wave added Ableton Link integration, which is excellent in itself.

Lastly we worked with something new from AlphaSphere ….

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We’ve been using an AlphaSphere at SoundLab for quite some time now. Last week we were working with something quite new from them. In fact so new that I can’t even tell you about it at all! Even so, it was great to be able to work with AlphaSphere at SoundLab.

It was a great day and we made a lot of sound!

Bit it wasn’t just about those technologies. On top of all of that we had an amazing jam session using Link.

Link has been a massive step forward for SoundLab. It’s allowed us to integrate apps and hardware so easily now. In this session we used these apps:

As you can see above we also used a lot of hardware and Ableton to drive the MIDI out to all of the hardware. As jams go, this one was really awesome!

So that was last Wednesday and SoundLab. You’ll be hearing a lot more about what we do there over the coming months, and if it’s something of interest to you then please do get in touch.

Videos: Blocs Wave and Ableton Link

It has been great to see Blocs Wave get Link integration and get really useful when working with other apps. I can tell you from personal experience that this is just the beginning with Blocs Wave, there’s some seriously cool stuff coming along, but more of that later on …

For now, enjoy Blocs with your Link jam.

Blocs Wave of the app store:

Blocs Wave adds Link and more in 2.0!

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This is great news. Now Blocs users can work with loads of other Link enabled apps right away. Here’s all that’s new in version 2.0 of Blocs Wave:

  • Support for Ableton Link
  • Updated to Audiobus 3.2.1
  • Various performance improvements
  • Fixed truncated name when importing a loop
  • Fixed incorrect transpose when exporting a pad

Video: Blocs Wave Sampling Pocket Operator – haQ attaQ 136

Video description:

“In this tutorial I am sampling loops from Pocket Operator Robot and Sub straight into Blocs wave by Novation.”

Video published by Jakob Haq.

Blocs Wave on the app store:

Blocs Wave 1.1 brings fixes, but …

So we’ve had Blocs Wave for only a week or so now, and already there’s fixes (see below), but there’s more to come according to Blocs …

  • Fixed import of mono files
  • Fixed audio glitches when changing tempo
  • Fixed launching app from other hosts (e.g. AUM)
  • Various minor bug fixes and improvements

“We’re working hard to bring exciting new features to Blocs Wave. Please let us know if you have feature requests at support@blocs.cc”

And having met them last week (more on that soon) I can believe them.

Blocs Wave on the app store:

Why apps like Blocs Wave are so important for every part of the mobile music ecosystem

It was only last week that Blocs Wave arrived, it was a real surprise that Novation had created a new sub brand for mobile apps. It’s great to see this kind of focus come from an already well established brand. It’s an interesting strategy too and sends a message that mobile is really important.

If you remember their initial video about Blocs, Wave is just the start.

Their intent is to get more people making music, and that in itself has to be a good thing, a very good thing.

Blocs Wave is a great start, and I think it’s important to applaud any company that specifically launches a brand to get people into making music. That’s not to say that this is the first time it’s happened of course. Figure was (and of course still is) a brilliant app for getting started with music making without having an musical experience or expertise.

Why is this so important though? Simply because the more people we get making music the better. I’m not going to go into all the benefits of music in so many areas of life, you can find out all that stuff for yourself, but just suffice it to say that it’s a good thing, and I guess I’m preaching to the converted for the most part here.

Blocs Wave is one of those apps that I can see going down very well in schools and kickstarting music education with kids who have no interest in traditional instruments, but for whom digital music making is going to be big. The more apps like this that we have the better. The more tools we have like this the better.

So I’m glad to see Blocs Wave arrive and I’m keen to see what they do next.

If you don’t know it, then go take a look at Blocs Wave on the app store:

Blocs Wave tutorial videos

All the tutorial videos you could want for the new app from the makers of LaunchPad.

Video: Blocs | About Us – Make Music Different

Video description:

“Blocs Wave is a music creation app designed to inspire new musical ideas. Easily combine original professional sounds across a wide array of genres. Tweak your sounds using beautiful touchable waveforms, and make your ideas even more unique. Record your vocals and instruments, and bring your ideas to life within minutes.

About Blocs
The Blocs team was born out of talent from established electronic music brand Novation. The team were responsible for previous innovations such as the original Launchpad hardware and Launchpad for iOS app.”

Video published by Blocs for iOS.

Blocs Waves on the app store:

Video: Blocs Wave by Novation – haQ attaQ 130

Video description:

“In this tutorial/let’s play I am going through the functions. I am also demonstrating how to import your own loops/samples and categorize them for the loop-library.”

Video published by Jakob Haq.

Blocs Wave on the app store:

New from Novation … Blocs Wave – Make & Record Music

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So that was unexpected wasn’t it! A new app arrives from Novation. Here are all the details.

Blocs Wave is a music creation app designed to inspire new musical ideas. Easily combine original professional sounds across a wide array of genres. Tweak your sounds using beautiful touchable waveforms, and make your ideas even more unique. Record your vocals and instruments, and bring your ideas to life within minutes.

Get it now at a special introductory price!

Features

  • Start new music – Quickly tap sounds to combine and make new original musical ideas.
  • Make every sound unique – Tweak sounds using beautiful touchable waveforms.
  • Record new sounds – Effortlessly capture your own sounds, vocals and instruments.
  • Explore and combine your sounds from a huge library – Explore amazing sounds across genres from EDM to dubstep, indie to songwriting and tons more.
  • Expand your collection – Download even more sounds from an ever expanding pro library

Advanced Features

  • Real-time stretch – Change bpm while playing, and blocs will adapt.
  • Record with Low-Latency
  • Export & Import – Bring in your own sounds from other apps, or export to them.
  • Key aware – All library sounds are ‘key aware’ and can stay in-key.
  • Works well with others – Audiobus, AudioCopy, AudioShare, and hardware input and outputs supported.

Compatible with iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation), iPad (4th Generation), iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Pro

Supports iOS 8 and iOS 9.

Blocs Wave costs $4.99 (£3.99) on the app store (introductory price):

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