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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.

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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.

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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.

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Trackd brings us Songs of the Centenary

I’ve mentioned Trackd before, so if you don’t know what it is then take a look at this post. In short Trackd is a collaborative 8 track studio in your iPhone. There’s a great history behind the people from Trackd.

In 1968, British brothers Norman and Barry Sheffield opened Trident Studios at St. Anne’s Court, Soho. The studio was always at the pinnacle of recording tech and very soon attracted the big-hitting stars of the time. You know, artists like The Beatles, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Queen & Elton John to drop but a few names.

What the original studio stood for and achieved inspired us to do something that matters to music. Trackd was born at SXSW a couple of years ago in a fateful meeting over a taco, and we carry the heart and soul of the original studio with us into today’s musical universe.

Trackd is just over a year old now, and has started to do some really interesting things, for instance their ‘Songs of the Centenary’ project, which you can read about here, and download the stems here. Engaging projects like this can help to bring new ideas together and get people using accessible technologies like Trackd to realise their own artistic vision.

I first found out about Trackd at one of the Music Tech Pitch events that I help to run. Trackd really stood out for me as an app and an idea that could bring musicians together and help people to collaborate and communicate around musical ideas. That view hasn’t changed at all.

So if you don’t know Trackd I’d encourage you to take a look and see what it can do, and who it can help you talk to. The app is free on the app store with IAPs.

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A belated happy birthday to Trackd!

If you don’t know Trackd (Create, Sing, Collaborate & Record Songs) then perhaps now is the time to take a look. It’s a pretty interesting and versatile app and I think that it’s just going to get better and better. For now I want to say a belated happy birthday to Trackd and the team behind it.

If you don’t know about Trackd, then here’s some information behind it.

“Trackd is the best new way to record songs and ideas to your iPhone. It is packed with simple tools that makes recording and mixing audio on mobile quick and easy on up-to 8 tracks.

Note lyrics, set a metronome, mix, pan and even import audio from Dropbox to kick-start new projects.

Trackd is also a place where musicians from all over the world meet to share ideas, message and collaborate. Follow your friends and collaborate with them as easily as sending a text.

You can quickly and easily share your music to Facebook, Twitter, and even save multi-track projects to your camera roll for video sharing.

Share your songs on socials @trackdmusic and #trackd for the chance to be featured, and mail support@trackdmusic.com if you have any queries, needs, or simply want to give us a pat on the back for making such a beautiful, lovely, and groundbreaking app”

And here’s what’s new in the latest version …

  • Faster navigation for the quicker-fingered amongst you.
  • Improved the tutorial so it’s a bit clearer how to delete things (just play it right the first time though!)
  • We still don’t want no drama, so we crushed more bugs.

And now a little bit about Trackd’s birthday!

“The other day we gracefully and silently turned a year old, so to celebrate our move into the awkward toddler phase here are some fun facts!

  • There has been over 250 days-worth of music recorded using Trackd. Get listening.
  • Over 115,000 musical projects have been created using the app.
  • Almost 10,000 songs and stems have been made public by the community and have got everyone all inspired and collaborating!
  • We’ve been nominated for awards all over the globe from SXSW, to San Fransisco Music Tech, to Midem in France! So many feels.
  • Major love shown by Apple, with a number of features over the year – thanks guys!

The best and most fun fact of all though has to be that over the past year we’ve seen a community of nearly 70,000 musicians come together and create some completely insane beats, jams and melodies both solo and through collaboration. Every day when we log in to see what you guys have been up to it still blows us away. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep creating, and enjoy every second!”

I think that Trackd has a bright future, and I hope to tell you more about that soon enough, so go check out Trackd on the app store now: