Moments in Mobile Music: 3 – Microbe and Bhajis Loops

Number 3 in this series of ‘moments’ in mobile music is of course Bhajis Loops. It was a natural follow on from miniMuisc and then Griff and Windows Mobile. Bhajis was the start of something really big for me and for lots of people too.

Of course Bhajis wasn’t first, Microbe was first and was something of a revelation. It was more akin to Griff than anything that had come before on the Palm OS. It was about as different as you could get from what had gone before, but it only ran on series 5 devices, that is Palm OS models that ran OS5, and it was what made me get a new Tungsten, just so I could try it out.

It was well worth it. Microbe was great, amazing, but, as many of you will remember, that was just the beginning. What came next was even better. Bhajis Loops arrived and changed mobile music for ever.

I’ve mentioned both Bhajis Loops on many occasions, so forgive me if you’ve heard all of this before. Bhajis gathered a community behind it very quickly as people found it was a very interesting way to cheaply make music wherever you were. The app went from strength to strength and Olivier the developer listened to the community and implemented a lot of what we asked for. The app got better and better and ended up being one of the best things to happen in mobile music in my opinion.

But it was a bit of a niche. Palm was coming to the end of its lifecycle and then of course the iPhone happened and the rest, as they say, is history. Even so, Bhajis was a massive step in the world of mobile music and paved the way for a lot of what came after and inspired a lot of people to think differently about how and where you can make music.

Now both of these are completely free to use should you have, or decide to acquire a Palm OS device running Palm OS 5, ideally an old Pam Tungsten T3 from eBay or a Palm Tungsten TX. You can’t use either of these on iOS, although there is an emulator for jailbroken devices if you’ve gone down that route, but it isn’t brilliant (and I’m not sure if it is still available or still works with iOS9), and to be fair you really need the native hardware to get a view on what Bhajis can do.

Finally, if you’re interested, I’ve put out a couple of unfinished collections of pieces which were both made using Bhajis which you can find on Bandcamp if you’re interested.  Also you might want to check out this old post about constructing a £50 mobile music studio, it’ll tell you a lot more about Bhajis and what it does.

So this is moment 3 in mobile music. Moment 4 will be with you soon!


From the beginning … PalmSounds on video, back in 2007: Making some little films

“A short film about travelling with music. The music was made with a PDA using Microbe and Bhajis Loops software for Palm and the video was shot with a Palm Treo 650 and also a Sony Clie NX73V.”

“The music for this film was made with a Treo 650 running Bhajis Loops.”

These two were made with my Treo for the most part and I really enjoyed making them. Back in 2007 it was a bit of a labour of love to pull these things together and it’s obviously a lot easier now! Even so, I still think that they stand up to a degree.

14 mobile hardware devices I love: 4 -The Palm T3

By mentioning the Palm T3 I can, by simple extension, talk about Palm OS music making. Ok, it’s a tad tenuous when this is meant to be about hardware, but I’m stretching a point because I can!

I last mentioned both Bhajis Loops and Microbe on so many occasions, and I think as part of my 24 apps of 2012 as well, which is probably no surprise either.

I’ve mentioned Palm OS music making on many occasions of course, primarily because that’s where PalmSounds really comes from, and my days of using an old Pam Tungsten T3 (and actually prior to that a series of older PDAs) for music making are in many ways what inspired the start of this blog. These old devices shouldn’t be overlook, as I’ve posted before, you can set up your own little bit of music making history by getting a Palm Tungsten T3 from eBay or a Palm Tungsten TX for that matter and grabbing both Bhajis Loops and Microbe for free. You’ll certainly have a lot of fun in doing so and it won’t set you back much these days.

I still miss those Palm days, and I’m not on my own there (I’m looking at you Jo!). Finally, if you’ve got this far, and your still interested in a bit more about Palm OS music, I’ve put out a couple of unfinished collections of pieces which were both made using Bhajis. You can find these on Bandcamp.  Also you might want to check out this old post about constructing a £50 mobile music studio, if you want to take the leap yourself. Also it’ll tell you a lot more about Bhajis and what it does.

Circuit bending with Microbe …

This video comes care of Matrix Synth. It looks very interesting. Sadly the whole of Perciante Rocco’s site is written in Italian, so I can’t understand it.

Upgrade time

All my Pocket PC apps have been running on a Jornada 568 for a very long time now. Finally I’ve decided to upgrade and get some more power behind them, especially the more recent apps that need the power.

So, I’ve ordered a Dell Axim 51. I’m hoping that the 500mhz will be more than enough power to keep all these apps going, we’ll wait and see.

Just so as you know, here’s what I run on Pocket PC / Windows Mobile:

  • Griff
  • Syntrax
  • MilkyTracker
  • Phoenix Studio
  • Pocket Jam
  • miniMIXA
  • Audio Box
  • Stomp Box

In addition, I’m running StyleTap with Bhajis Loops and Microbe, so it should be interesting to see how all these fit together with the Axim.

My Jornada 568

I was going to sell my old HP Jornada 568, but after much soul searching I’ve decided that I am going to keep it. I’ve fitted a new battery to it (which was so much easier than the T3 battery), and I plan to load up a big bunch of new software very soon. I plan to add:

  • StyleTap (PalmOS environment for PocketPC)
    • Bhajis Loops (running inside StyleTap)
    • Microbe (running inside StyleTap)
  • SSEYO MiniMixa (which I really want to try out again and see if I can get it to work)
  • MilkyTracker (see previous post)

It is already running:

  • Griff (including all synths etc)
  • Syntrax
  • PocketJam
  • Phoenix Studio

That’s the plan. Once done I aim to make it part of my mobile studio again. We’ll see how I get on with it.

Ditch Digger Digs Ditches: Make Palm a portable sequencer and sampler

Ditch Digger Digs Ditches: Make Palm a portable sequencer and sampler

Another little review of Bhajis Loops. I’m amazed at how many people have raved about Bhajis Loops and taken the time to review it.

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.

A tough decision to take

Whilst away on holiday last week I made the decision to get rid of my HP Jornda 568 PDA. It is a sad day for me, as I’ve had it for a few years, and in the first year or so it was really useful. Sadly now I find that I hardly ever use it at all. It feels sad because it is a bit like an old friend you don’t want to lose touch with, but you know you’ll never have anything in common any more.

Some of the software is still useful, but for the most part I am using Bhajis Loops and NotePad/SoundPad, so it is difficult to use other applications which arn’t quite as intuitive.

It is a shame, and I wish I had a real use for the device as it is very nice indeed. Still, when you have no use for something like that, it just has to go.