That was MMM2017 and it was pretty amazing

The International symposium MOBILE MUSIC IN THE MAKING 2017 was last weekend and I was lucky enough to get along to speak at it, to meet people, to catch up with long time friends, and to put some faces to names who I’ve known for a long time. As so often happens with events like this you don’t really know what to expect until you’re there, but MMM2017 exceeded any expectations I had by a long way, which is a tribute to Matthias Krebs and the team of the Research Center for Mobile Music Making and App Music and the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) that worked with him for months to make it such an amazing event for everyone involved.

Gathered there was a fantastic mix of developers, musicians, academics and more besides. The range of talks, demonstrations, and performances was excellent, and if anything I just wish I could have gone to more of it, but sadly I still lack the ability to be in more than one place at a time.

So for now I’m just going to pull out the highlights for me personally, and I’ll start with meeting someone who I’ve wanted to meet in person for a very long time.

Yep, it’s Mr Jakob Haq in person. It was wonderful to meet him on the Friday when I arrived (very late) and have a catch up. You can also see in the first picture Dr Ben Schogler from Skoog. More about him and about Skoog later. Jakob and I managed to catch up a few times over the weekend, but as you can imagine it just wasn’t enough so I’m going to have to get to meet up with him again I think.

The Saturday of MMM2017 was the big day for me. I was speaking a couple of times, but also there were some amazing sessions I really wanted to get to, so let’s go over a few of those.

Firstly there was AudioBus 3:

AudioBus 3 is coming soon. As far as I know it’s due to drop on the 28th (apologies, this should be the 27th) of this month, so there isn’t too long to wait. The big new features in AB3 are MIDI and a Mixer. Sebastian’s talk focussed on their journey to AB3 which was really interesting. You might wonder why MIDI is such a big deal, but as Sebastian explained, every app treats MIDI differently. Getting one single way to configure MIDI via AB3 is going to make a huge difference, at least in my view anyway.

Another interesting view from Sebastian’s talk was around the UI/UX approach they’ve taken with AB3. It’s very user focussed indeed and from I could see I think it will make the creative interaction when using AB3 a lot easier and less distracting.

Sadly we weren’t able to see the mixer in AB3 but as there isn’t long to wait now it’s something else to look forward to.

Next was Hari, the maker of the AC Sabre. Hari talked about the idea and evolution of the concepts behind the Sabre, which was really interesting even though I’ve heard him give a shorter version of this talk before. He was of course very entertaining and enlightening. The only downside was that I didn’t get to see Hari perform, which is always a joy.

As I mentioned before it was a slightly unexpected pleasure to meet Ben from Skoog at MMM2017. I’ve known of the Skoog for a very long time now although I’d never got my hands on one. I found it intriguing to hear Ben talk about the process that they went through to develop the device and how it got to where it is now. It’s definitely something that I want to follow up on and try out personally as well. I think that the Skoog has some really unusual potential as an instrument in a lot of settings. Expect to hear more about it in the coming weeks.

If you want to find out more about Skoog you should check out their web site and also they have a swift playground that you can use on your iPad too.

Next was Russell from Trackd. Trackd is a collaborative 8 track recorder / mixer for iPhone that’s getting some real attention. It allows users to collaborate with each other from anywhere in the world. I’ve mentioned Trackd before, originally when they pitched at Music Tech Pitch last year, and also around the work they’re doing with Dave Stewart and in education.

Russell talked through the background to the app and a little bit around where he wants to go next with this. Personally I think that Trackd has a bright future ahead and will be a very useful tool for a whole host of musicians from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. Again, you’ll be hearing more about this soon.

With events like MMM2017 one of the most import things to do is just to be around. People are always showing new ideas, apps etc, and one such app is PolyJam. You can take a look at the app as it’s beta now, click here and scroll down.

I got a chance to try out PolyJam and was impressed at its immediacy, simplicity, accessibility and just how much fun it was to use. So I’m really looking forward to seeing it for real and hopefully bringing it into some of the work I do at Heart n Soul as well.

Peter Kirn gave a really good talk about libPd and reminded me of the original RJDJ apps and the origins of using Pd in mobile. I found this very inspiring indeed and he touched on apps like MobMuPlat and PdParty which I really need to revisit.


I was lucky enough to invited to speak at MMM2017 and I gave two talks. The first of which was around the work we do at Heart n Soul in digital music making with people with disabilities. This was part of the education strand of the event, which I wish I’d had more time to be a part of. I’m hoping that it won’t be too long before the videos of the event come out and when that happens I’ll be sure to share those with you.

I also gave a talk about the future of mobile music where I shared some themes and topics that I think are important to what’s happening in mobile and where we might go next. I’m not going to go through all of those here as I think that they deserve their own space. So I’ll do something separate on those soon.


At the end of the event there were a bunch of totally excellent performances. All very different, all made with mobile. I just wish there’d been more. I think there could’ve been a while day of performances alone.

Finally I’d just like to round off with how nice it was to meet people at MMM2017. There were so many people that I caught up with, either for the first time in person, or after a long gap. It was awesome.

Events like MMM2017 are so important for sharing ideas, for meeting and getting to know each other. I hope that MMM continues and that we see an MMM2018 too. I’d love to be involved. For now it’s worth taking a look the conference site and especially the ‘flashback’ page which will continue to be updated with photos and video soon enough.

I’ll leave you with one quote from an attendee right at the end of the conference, “It’s like finding a family that you didn’t know you had”. I think that’s spot on.

The world of Link gets bigger

I’ve posted about Ableton’s Link before, and I doubt very much that this post will be the last time. In fact it was number 1 on my list of things to expect in 2016. As I said in that post, Link is going to get bigger and bigger and will become a standard in the not too distant future.

But what of MIDI? Well Coding Cod (makers of the excellent LoopTree)are bringing their MIDI Link Sync app soon. In fact, they’ve just announced their BETA programme:

But ahead of that Link to MIDI has arrived, and it’s free.

People are starting to do some interesting things with Link.

It won’t stop there either. Link is set to grow and grow. Other developers already have it in their sites so expect it to come to your favourite apps very soon.

In order to make it a little simpler to find out which apps have it so far, I’m going to put up a page which will list all the Link enabled apps to date, and I’ll be updating it more or less daily.

Let me know what you think, and let me know what you’re doing with Link too.

Explorations with a Ukulele and IK’s iRig Acoustic

I thought I’d post a few recent tracks of mine which show what I’ve been doing with IK’s iRig Acoustic, which, I have to say, I’m really impressed with. I’ve been using it with my Ukulele and I’m so pleased with the results.

So here’s a few things I’ve made using it. I hope you like them.

I think it shows how clear and distinct the sound is even with a lot of effects used.

In terms of how each track was constructed, here’s the ingredients for each:

  1. Track one was made using AUFX Space, Dub, PeakQ, Multitrack DAW, Audiobus, and AudioShare.
  2. Track two was made using Deregulator with Audiobus into Audioshare.
  3. And finally, track 3 used apeDelay.

I’m impressed with the iRig Acoustic and would happily recommend it, I’m planning to do some more with it in the coming weeks to show a bit more of its capabilities, so watch out for that.

IK Multimedia's iRig Acoustic

That was 2015, and now where do we go in 2016?

Welcome to 2016! I haven’t posted for a few days and I’ve been spending that time thinking back over 2015 and also wondering where we’ll go (the mobile music community that is) in 2016. I’ve also been reading with some interest the thoughts of other commentators in the field. Tim, from Discchord and John from the Music Apps blog. All good stuff and well worth reading if you haven’t already.

Also, there’s Jakob’s top 10 apps from 2015 (video below), which make for interesting watching.

If you remember from just before Christmas (I know it was a long time ago), but I posted a couple of pieces on my 24 devices and my favourite posts from 2015, but what I didn’t do was post a list of favourite apps of 2015, and there’s a reason for that. What’s the reason? I’ll tell you. The simple reason is that I firmly believe that mobile music isn’t just about apps, and certainly it isn’t about iOS alone.

So what do I think will be important in 2016? Well, here are my predictions (for want of a better word):

  1. Ableton’s Link technology will gain ground and almost certainly become the defacto standard for getting apps to communicate between mobile devices and the desktop. What will be really interesting to see will be if other desktop makers bring Link into their DAWs. Possibly even more important will be if hardware devices bake Link into their own firmware or OSs. That would be a big signal that Ableton have cornered the market in linking devices and software.
  2. 3D touch will get bigger. So far I’ve been disappointed with the take up of 3D touch by app makers. For two reasons, the first is that I don’t think that enough app makers have seen the possibilities of 3D touch, secondly, and much more personally, is that I haven’t had the ability to use it as I don’t have a capable device.
  3. We will see more experimental hardware and that can only be a good thing. What do I mean by that? I mean devices like the Mute Synth II, and the Olegtron 4060, which could quite easily have become abandonware, but instead is moving forward with the new module they’ve talked about recently. Apps can take you so far, and then you need to get your hands dirty, and these kinds of devices (and there are plenty more besides the two I’ve mentioned) will let you go further.
  4. Crowdfunded devices will continue to show up and allow start ups to get their ideas into the real world. We’ve seen some great devices come up in 2015. Devices like the Artiphon Instrument 1, and Tangible’s Arpeggio too. There are others of course, but both of these share a very interesting and very relevant feature, relevant to something I mentioned in point 1 above. Both of these will have companion apps to expand their functionality. More of that in a moment.
  5. Crowdfunding start ups will move from product and reward crowdfunding to equity. This has already happened with a couple of companies, Patchblocks being the most notable. But also Chirp.IO, who started with their app, Chirp, and are now doing some really interesting things (more of that another day), but to finish on Chirp, I’m very glad to say that Patrick, their founder is an awesome chap and a friend of mine and PalmSounds. I’d like to see more companies enter the equity space as I think it’s both a very useful way of supporting companies like this and gives users an opportunity to put down hard cash and be a part of the journey.
  6. Going back to point 4, I think that we’re going to see more and more hardware and software (apps or otherwise) connectivity. I don’t just mean patch editors and the link (there’s nothing wrong with those at all though), but apps or software that expands the capabilities of hardware itself and vice-versa, and not just hardware to desktop, but to mobile and even to wearables!
  7. The continued rise of modular. In 2015 we saw some truly ground breaking modular apps arrive on iOS, Audulus 3, zMors Modular, and AnalogKit. I hope to see these all continue to develop and grow in 2016, but I think we’ll see more, and taking some of the previous points on I’d like to see some of the modular hardware makers start to bridge the gap between their formats and mobile. I also think that there’s a big gap for a mobile modular device a bit like the TinySizer, but smaller. I wonder if anyone will enter that space?
  8. Mobile music will continue to split itself into two distinct camps. What do I mean by that? I mean that for the last few years we’ve seen two movements emerge. One typified by point 7, the complex modular environments which are increasingly about developing your own instruments and processes for creating sound and music, and a second around making music more accessible to non-musicians. This second camp is exemplified by apps like Auxy, especially their latest iPhone app. Whilst I’m a keen watcher of both camps my own practice is quite firmly in the second with my SoundLab project (see the tag SLPS for more). I think that this is such an important area, it’s critical to encourage more people to discover their creativity.
  9. Finally, and probably far more out there, I’d like to think that we can see mobile music moving from the device to the wearable and to the IoT device as well. I know that this is less likely, even though we’ve seen a few apps move to the Apple Watch, like Intermorphic’s Wotja, and also djay, Secret Base Design, and also Apogee’s MetaRecorder. It hasn’t caught on in a big way as yet, but I think it should. It is after all, mobile, about as mobile as it gets. As for IoT, this is understandably more difficult, and obviously, far more esoteric too, but I can dream right?

So, there are my thoughts on 2016 for what it’s worth. I wonder if they’ll be proved right or wrong. Probably somewhere in between if the truth be known, and, for that matter, how important is it to be either right or wrong?

As ever, I’m very interested to know what you think, so, over to you.

My favourite posts of 2015, some thoughts, and a Happy New Year too

I thought I’d end off 2015 with a round up of my favourite posts of the year. Now the easiest thing to do would have been to simply direct you at the featured tagged posts, but that seemed like a bit of cheap way of doing it, so instead here’s a more considered list of my favs this year.

Let’s start off with music as an app, that still is an interesting idea and one that people still struggle with and don’t really get right. This was a great step towards getting it right in my view. Music tech funding is an odd area and one that is hard to understand, this post aimed to try to clear up a few things and ask some questions too. Speaking at Abbey Road Studios was probably one of the most amazing and also important things I did this year and this post is about just that.

But even though that was quite important it doesn’t mean that everything has to be so serious does it? I posted this in an attempt to make the point that creating music doesn’t have to be so serious and needs to be fun too.

Mobile music has become about apps in the main, so here, in this post I decided to point out a few of the things I thought were important in an app. Just 10 things to consider, but important things and all of it still stands in my view, but I would say that!  On a similar note, I had to ask if there were too many synth apps in the iOS world, and, if anything, that question is more salient now than then! If you’re interested you can also read my top 24 apps for 2015, which probably isn’t the list you expect.

Staying with the apps theme for the moment, I thought it was interesting that Korg’s latest two apps were both iPhone versions of existing apps, one from their iPad collection, the iElectribe for iPhone, and of course the iDS-10 for iPhone. This is important. I love that more apps are coming to the iPhone now, it saying something about mobility and the iPad and where the iPad range is heading.

Also on apps, Modular has been big in 2015. First we had AnalogKit modular and then Audulus 3 of course. Modular is not going away and I think both of these apps, and of course zMors modular too are really important. I did ask the question here about whether modular was actually right for mobile. You make up your own minds. Either way I think we’ll see more of this in 2016 especially considering what’s happening in Pd at the moment.

In terms of mobile hardware 3D touch is, for me anyway, a really big thing for mobile music, although it doesn’t seem to have been adopted nearly as much as I’d expected so far and its potential is, in my opinion, huge! Although one notable adoptee is Roli with their Noise 5D app, and I hope that there’ll be lots more soon. I’m hoping that this will change in 2016. But what seems to have happily eclipsed 3D touch is Ableton’s Link technology, which I expect will roll out to even more apps in 2016.

I also expect that we’ll see more crowdfunded (Kickstarter or Indiegogo) products in 2016. Aside from the fact that I’m waiting for a bunch of them myself it seems to be becoming the defacto way to get a good idea going these days. One of the best examples for me in 2015 was the Arpeggio, and I think it’ll do really well as it will connect to its own iOS app.

Finally, one of the most important things I did this year was to help to run the SoundLab Play Space. You can read all of the posts about the Play Space here, but it was amazing to be a part of such a brilliant event and work with such great companies.

So that’s a whistle stop tour of 2015. I’d like to say a quick thank you for everyone who’s read PalmSounds, commented, tweeted etc in 2015.  Here’s to an even better and more mobile 2016!

24 devices that have been important to me in 2015

I’d been meaning to post this before Christmas, but just ran out of time before I could get it done, but I thought I’d squeeze it into 2015, just!

  1. Teenage Engineering OP-1: A pure genius device from Teenage Engineering, I love it and it just gets better and better with every new version of the OS. I can’t wait to see what they add next.
  2. Teenage Engineering PO-12:A fantastic little device and possibly the shape of things to come from other manufacturers.
  3. Teenage Engineering PO-14: That compliments the PO-12 very nicely and works well with the …
  4. Teenage Engineering PO-16: Which completes the set, and they do work well together. I like the idea of small and well designed hardware. I think that the only thing that TE missed with this series and also the OP-1 was a way to connect and expand the devices with a mobile device. That sounds kind of obvious now, but probably when the OP-1 came out originally it didn’t make that much sense.
  5. Monotron: The original and excellent Monotron I think it would be interesting to see if more synth makers did a Monotron equivalent. What would that look like for Yamaha? For Roland?
  6. Monotron delay: Was a great addition to the line, as was the …
  7. Monotron duo: As was Korg’s decision to open source the circuitry. Very nicely done.
  8. Casio VL-1: Is where mobile music started off for me, so it’s something I’m really fond of.
  9. Casio VL-10:
  10. Thingamagoop: I’ve got the 2nd edition of the Thingamagoop but of course the new one comes out in 2016 and I’m really keen to see how good it is. I’m tempted, but haven’t ordered one as yet.
  11. BC-16: The rarest of rate micro modular synths. Almost impossible to find but really interesting to play with and a device that gives you an appreciation of modular synthesis and analogue work.
  12. Handera 330: The first of two of my PDA entries. This one is the rarest of them all. Only ran Palm OS4, but it had an SD card and CF card slots onboard.
  13. TRG-Pro: From the same makers, the Pro had a CF card slot and was pretty amazing in its day. Of course it is very good at sending MIDI, and works well with older devices.
  14. Nebulophone: Another Bleep Labs device and a cool and cheap noise maker for having fun.
  15. DS: I included the DS as, pre-iPhone / iOS, it was a great platform for mobile music and of course had the original DS-10 synth.
  16. iRig acoustic: I’ve been really impressed by the iRig acoustic, especially when using it with my Ukulele and a bunch of effects apps.
  17. TouchBoard: I’ve become a fan of the TouchBoard since using it at our SoundLab play space event. I think that the device has a lot more to offer than perhaps anyone has thought about it so far, and I hope to explore that more in 2016.
  18. MuteSynth II: This is an incredible piece of hardware for exploring sounds. I’ve really enjoyed using it and have found it a great way to lose myself in sound design.
  19. Olegtron: Another interesting and very different hardware device. Something that feels like it’s going to start growing into more than just a single device, but I’m not sure where it’ll end up. That’s quite exciting in it’s own right though.
  20. Littlebits: If you wanted a modular experience and eurorack is too expensive, then this is (or so I’m told) a good alternative. It’s also great to learn about how synthesis works.
  21. Ototo: A very underrated device with great expansion through sensors and the ability to play anything, like fruit!
  22. iRig MIDI 2: For connecting iOS and MIDI hardware, this is it for me. Solid and reliable and that’s it.
  23. Molecule synth: Rare, unusual, modular and strange. I’d hoped that this could develop into something and there could’ve been more molecules available, but it’s unlikely I guess now.
  24. Mixtape alpha: Another rare device which is difficult to play and worse to find one these days, but an interesting design and, in it’s own way, quite soothing and pleasant. I like it anyway.
So there’s my list. Not the usual list of hardware you might find on a blog, but a list of things I find interesting sonically and inspiring too. I hope you find it useful.

NOIZ is coming …

It has been a long time coming, but it is still on the way, and next month it looks like things could get even more interesting.

If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, then take a look at these videos …

If you want to know more about NOIZ, then check out Studio Amplify’s page and sign up.

There’ll be more to say about NOIZ in the new year, stay tuned!

Musical Android on Pd party developments in Android …

And if you’re an Android user then you really want to take a look at this article a video on the Musical Android site about Pd party. Things have really moved forward and it seems that there’s a lot happening in the Pd world and mobile now, especially on Android.

I think I’ll have to take a bit more time over this too.

Olegtron 4060 plug in board available

Olegtron have released a new plug in board for the Olegtron 4060. The new 7-bit plug in module is on their site although there’s now way to order it as yet. It looks pretty cool though and hopefully I can get hold of a copy of it soon.

When I do I’ll let you know.

Pocket Calculator by Modified Toy Orchestra
Released as a small run by Static Caravan records on white 7″ vinyl now for the first time here’s a digital copy as a free download.
Get the SoundCloud app to listen on your iDevice.