Some first impressions of the Artiphon Instrument 1

I promised that I would write about the Artiphon Instrument 1. I thought I’d start with some photos of what it used to look like as a prototype. Of course, it’s quite different now and doesn’t have a bay for an iPhone, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. However, it is essentially the same instrument.

The version that shipped from Artiphon’s Kickstarter campaign is a nice evolution of the original, and, on first impressions, is pretty easy to use.

What’s shipped may not look as beautiful as the original, but the shipped version is still rather lovely anyway. But more than that it works and works really well.

When I unpacked it and got it out of its box the first thing I noted is that it is really well presented. The packaging is protective and works and you’ll probably want to keep hold of the box just in case.

The instrument itself feels the right weight. It’s smaller than I’d had in my mind. It’s around the size of a ukulele or maybe slightly bigger. I’ve got the black one. The surface of the device is smooth and it feels nice to handle. Of course the most important thing is how it works and handles as an instrument and I’ll be coming on to that in just a moment.

What struck me first off was that it does actually feel like an instrument and not like a piece of digital technology that you’re going to have to learn how to use and isn’t immediately obvious. That might sound like a subtle distinction, but in my view it is an important one. It means that you feel, or at least I felt, like I could pick this instrument up straight away and get going with it, and that is exactly what I did.

So let’s move on to hooking it up to a device and getting going.

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The app that Artiphon have created to go along with their device is great for getting started, but if you’re a seasoned iOS music pro you’re going to get bored of these sounds very soon.

The app is very good for setting up how the instrument works though.

It gives you all the options for setting the tuning and layout of the instrument. Which is very useful in getting the thing to work how you want to.

Inside the app you can play with some basic instrument settings, although the sounds aren’t going set the world on fire, but the main thing is that you can set up MIDI here, and that’s where, for me, this instrument is going to be really useful. MIDI is very easy in the Artiphon app so you won’t have any issues I wouldn’t think.

After getting some sounds out of the thing I spent most of my time experimenting with playing with it and that’s what I’ll be sharing next.

What the ArtiPhon Instrument 1 is like to use:

I have to say, that even after just a brief time of playing with this instrument I can say that it’s a joy to use. It really is an instrument. I’m not much of a guitarist, but it does work well when you play it in guitar mode. In piano or keys mode it’s even more interesting and useful. I found that I could play and experiment with how the device worked with a variety of apps and sounds for ages as it was such a novel way of interfacing with apps.

I think that I’ve only scratched the surface with this instrument and it’s going to take a lot more interaction to get to a point where I can talk about where I think it really excels. However, I think it’ll be a lot of fun getting there.


Aftertouch • 3D MIDI Controller arrives to join the small group of apps that use 3D touch

I have to say that there haven’t been many music apps that have made use of the possibilities that 3D touch provides. In fact I can think of only a handful aside from Aftertouch • 3D MIDI Controller. The most obvious that comes to mind is Roli’s Seaboard 5D app, but also Ferrite Recording Studio.

I have to admit that I thought that 3D touch would be much bigger for music apps and I’m still slightly confused as to why it hasn’t been embraced in quite the way I’d envisaged. Anyway, enough of that for now, perhaps Aftertouch will change the way that not only users, but also other developers see 3D touch.

Here’s what to expect from the app:

Aftertouch unlocks the musical potential of 3D Touch, turning your iPhone into a velocity and pressure sensitive MIDI controller.

Aftertouch sends MIDI note and control data to other apps, or to external hardware via the Camera Connection Kit or via Bluetooth MIDI. It also includes a built-in synthesizer so you can start making music immediately.

GRID FEATURES

  • Configurable grid dimensions and musical intervals between rows and columns
  • Configurable note display format (MIDI note number, musical pitch, or a combination of both)
  • Easy-access transposition buttons to move the grid by a semitone or an octave

MIDI FEATURES

  • Selectable MIDI output: choose between virtual MIDI destinations (other apps), hardware USB MIDI connections (via the Camera Connection Kit), or Bluetooth MIDI devices
  • Selectable MIDI Channel, or MPE (Multi-dimensional Polyphonic Expression)
  • Configurable CC outputs for X, Y, and Z axis finger movement (with support for Pitch Bend in the X axis, and Channel or Polyphonic pressure in the Z axis)

OTHER FEATURES

  • Built-in phase modulation synthesizer exhibits the default expression settings
  • Velocity curve editor for fine-tuning the velocity- and pressure-sensitivity to your musical style
  • Use the full screen to set the range of control parameters, or constrain them to only respond to movement within a single pad.

NOTE: Z-axis support is only available on devices with 3D Touch. Other devices still send X and Y axis data, and send a fixed note-on velocity value.

Midiflow 2.2.8 arrives

Midiflow gets an update with some nice new features. Here’s what’s new:

  • Send MIDI based on device motion (needs Controller Remapping)
  • Send MIDI data when a preset is loaded (in-app purchase)
  • MIDI learn for almost all values (split points, channels etc.)
  • Tap clock tempo
  • Control clock tempo via MIDI (controller assignment)
  • Improved responsiveness of the UI

24 books for Christmas: 3 – Basic MIDI

Basic Midi is a great starting point for anyone who has heard of MIDI and yet feels completely confounded as to what it is, what it does and how to make best use of it. It has plenty of background and useful explanations. However, it is good for beginners. If you’re an experienced MIDI user then this isn’t going to be nearly as much use to you. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

You can find it here on Apple iBooks.

MIDI Monitor for iPad (free)

Test & monitor MIDI hardware with iOSMidi.com’s MIDI Monitor.

Did you know the iPad now supports MIDI hardware interfaces via the Camera Connection Kit? Simply plug in a compatible MIDI device with a power supply and send and receive messages using your iPad & MIDI Monitor.

Featuring:

  • Simple operation – simply plug in your MIDI Device via the Camera Connection Kit and start testing – all messages received display on the log.
  • Test your MIDI Devices to see if they are compatible with iPad
  • Test MIDI Out with your iPad – thanks to the built in controls & keyboard you can send MIDI messages from your iPad to your connected MIDI Device.
  • Use MIDI Monitor as a basic controller
  • Controls update to reflect MIDI Messages received
  • Handy for device diagnosis
MIDI Monitor - Domestic Cat

iPads at the Apple Store

ittyMIDI SysEx Manager


ittyMIDI SysEx Manager is a universal SysEx dump utility for the Palm OS.

SysEx Manager can do the following:

Record Bulk SysEx into the MIDI books used by the ittyMIDI Player. With the latest release of Player, you can incorporate these SysEx files into normal playlists. Send Bulk Sysex with the ability to set a time delay between each message to give slower devices the time to process it. The latest version of Songloader, available with the installation for Player, you can load .syx files directly into books for use with SysEx Manager or Player. Send All SysEx Messages located in any standard MIDI file.

Whilst not something that I am going to find that useful I am sure that others would value this application.

Palm Hardware: Tsunamidi

On a theme of old expansion modules, I couldn’t leave out this one. Famed as being the only module with true MIDI in capabilities. This tone module offered a full General MIDI sound set and wavetable synthesis. The Tsunamidi was about the same size as the Palm V Modem. It took two AA batteries and didn’t use any additional power from the handheld.

It had a built-in speaker and headphone jack and a port for an AC power adapter. There was also a special cable (included) that gave you full sized MIDI-in and MIDI-out ports to connect to any electronic music instruments or equipment.

The original box included the Tsunamidi Unit, storage bag, ear-bud earphones, 2 AA Batteries, MIDI-in/out cable, and a mini-CD containing free MIDI software (demo versions only).

Tsunamidi was made by Singapore Shinei Sangyo Pte. Ltd. Here are some nice quotes from the original launch of the device:

“The Tsunamidi product is a valuable and convenient add-on for musicians everywhere,” said T. Nakagaki, chairman, Shinei Group. “Its tools to create and edit music complement the Palm V handheld’s mobility and simplicity to allow musicians to practice their art wherever they are.” “Composing music has been traditionally limited to a studio,” said Byron
Connell, vice president, Consumer Markets Group, Palm, Inc. “The Tsunamidi frees musicians to compose music anywhere with just their Palm handheld and their imagination.”

I did like this unit, but I could never get the MIDI in to work right. However, the sound quality was very good indeed.

Palm and MIDI?


Could these cables be used to connect a palm to a MIDI device? I found these on a post at Create Digital Music I know that the T series aren’t supposed to work with MIDI, but could they? I’d love to know.

MIDI day on Palm Sounds : Roland PMA-5

Ok, this isn’t really a MIDI software review for the palm OS. However, someone asked me this evening if I was interested in buying one of these so I did a little research. Very interesting indeed. I might have to say yes and have a play.

I’d never heard of this device before, but I have to say I am very interested indeed.

MIDI day on Palm Sounds : Music Studio 1.0

I was quite excited when this came out and I bought it too, but I have to say it was a bit of a let down. It arrived in July 2003 and there doesn’t seem to have been an update since.

In effect it was a simple sequencer using GM sounds where available. I used it on my Sony Clie NX73V, which was fine as it had a GM chip in it already.

Here’s the blurb anyway. Sorry, no screen shots.

Music Studio is a unique polyphonic music composer that allows you to create beautiful melodies for your Alarms, Mobile phone ringtones, and Midi files for your PC.

With enhanced sound (Sony Clies), Music Studio utilises the 100s of instruments and multitrack features to create awesome original compositions on your device. These can be imported to your PC or even beamed to your Nokia/Siemens mobile phone.

Devices without enhanced sound can still enjoy the rich features and great graphics of this Music composer, listening to their polyphonic creations through their mobile phones or PC!

Music Studio has a great special introductory price of $12.95!

Features include:

  • Create & edit polyphonic melodies!
  • Compose upto 8 different tracks per melody!
  • Over 100 instruments to utilise!
  • Save & manage alarms on your alarm database!
  • Import melodies as Midis to your PC!
  • Beam melodies as ringtones to your mobile!
  • Convert each track to standard RTTTL format!
  • Great graphics
  • Easy to use, for beginners, amateurs and professionals
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