Monday, 30 January 2012

Syncing 2 iPads together for music collaboration

We had a bit of a breakthough today with 2 students who wanted to work together using the iKaossilator app. All of Korg's apps have a way of synchronising together over a wireless network called WIST, this enables one iPad to control the start/stop of another iPad. Both students were working on their sequences individually,using the same tempo and key  and then when they turned on WIST they combined their outputs using a mixer and controlled thier sequences by muting the different elements (drums, bass, FX & Chords) in and out  - as can be seen on this video.

This opens up a whole new approach to collaborative work with the iPads, although not an entirely new idea as MIDI sync technology (MIDI Clock) has been around for years and can be used to sync 2 or more laptops (or any other MIDI sequencer) together.

The big limitations with WIST at the moment are that:
  1. it can only connect 2 iPads together at a time;
  2. it relies on a wireless network (eek!)   
  3. not all apps support it. 
I think i would prefer MIDI clock as a way of syncing and as core MIDI is now implemented in to iOS5 some apps are starting to include it on their specifications, but WIST is a much neater way of working so i'm going to look in to the feasibility of having a wireless router on stage (rather than using the college's wireless network).


Monday, 23 January 2012

Students using the iPad for the 1st time

After introducing the concept of the iPad orchestra last week, with a quick demo of the different apps that would be available to them,  the students couldn't wait to get going themselves. Now that the apps had been installed it was time for a bit of experimenting!
I was amazed at how quickly they picked up the interaction with the iPads and even though most of them hadn't ever used one, they felt comfortable launching apps and investigating the different musical possibilities they offer. It wasn't long before 1 student wanted to try out the iRig mic with GarageBand - this was a simple case of plugging in the lead provided in to the headphone/mic socket of the iPad and the students headphones in to the socket on the iRig Mic so that he could hear himself. Another student wanted to try out the iRig guitar input and was set up in the same way as the mic. The Garageband amplifiers provided a great sound but everytime he stopped playing there was a short but noticeable feedback type noise. We tried the Amplitube app instead and it worked perfectly although the choice of amps wasn't as good in the free version - more can be purchased via the in-app store.
A quick poll at the end of the session resulted in GarageBand and iKaossillator as being the favourites with special mentions to the Animoog, Alchemy and iMS20 synths too.
Next week week we will be concentrating on the theme of the compositions & performance which will be 'The Planets'.... should be interesting!

Filmed and edited on the iPad with iMovie

Monday, 16 January 2012

The iPads are here!

Well they've finally come - 10 shiny new iPads ready to put in to action!

After making a new iTunes account and registering them - it was time to go App shopping... As mentioned in my earlier blog, Garageband, Korg iMS20 and Korg iElectribe where the main music apps to get but there have been a couple of new releases that I am excited about too - iMaschine, iKaossilator and Yamaha's Tenori-on.
All of these are iPad versions of quite expensive hardware and although there are a few limitations (especially with iMaschine), they represent amazing value even taking in to consideration the asking price for a new iPad! Other additions to my list include Animoog which is an amazing new synth created especially for the iPad by the legendary Moog company and an interesting freebie call Little MIDI machine that allows you to control and sequence hardware synths via the camera connection kit and a USB to MIDI lead.

iRig Microphone
While I'm on the subject of extras, the students that will form the iPad Orchestra have a variety of skills and they might feel more comfortable experimenting with the iPad using those skills. With that in mind, we have purchased some iRig connectors so that guitarists can plug in to the iPad and use the effects from Garageband or Amplitube; an iRig Microphone so that singers can plug in and use effects from Vocalive; and the camera connection kit so that keyboard players can trigger the sounds in any of the synths on the iPad using a proper keyboard plugged in via USB.

Apple Camera Connection Kit for iPad

So we're all set and I'll be introducing them to the students next week... I'm not entirely sure how the 1st session will go as there is a lot to learn in a relatively short space of time, so I'm relying on the talent of the students (of which there is plenty) and the well-known gradual learning curve of the iPad to make this happen!