iPad Music Synthesis


OK, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a synthesizer geek. In high school my favorite bands were synth-heavy bands like Yes, Kansas and Styx, and my hero was Rick Wakeman with his banks of keyboards and flowing robes. I was even privileged to meet and interview Dr. Robert Moog when I was in college, and I tried to learn all I could about music synthesis.

Back in the 1970’s I would drop by Pecknel Music and drool over the Minimoogs and ARP 2600s they occasionally had on display there. And drool was all I could do, for at prices ranging from $2000-$3000, these were far beyond my reach. When I finally got a teaching job and could purchase my own synthesizers, we were well into the Digital FM Synthesis days of the 1980’s. Musicians were already reminiscing about the fat analog sounds of the old monophonic synths of the 1970’s, something they still do.

…And that nostalgia seems to be paying off. Many of the old synths, or at least the concepts behind them, have been recreated as VSTis, and now these are being ported over to the iPad and iPhone. Technology that used to cost thousands of dollars is now available as a $4.99 app.  But there’s a trap…with the cheap price you may find yourself wanting ALL of the available synths, and still wind up sinking a ton of money for apps you’ll use a couple of times and forget…still cheaper than a vintage synth, but pricey all the same. Continue reading “iPad Music Synthesis”

iPad Music Notation

Saturday we had a Chorale Chamber Ensemble “retreat,” basically an all-afternoon rehearsal when I would have preferred being out on my kayak. This group is fairly tech-savvy, and there is always a good contingent of smart phones, e-readers, and iPads somewhere in the hall. Usually these are pulled out before rehearsal or during break (or surreptitiously used to take blurry photos, as I did in this post.) However, at this particular rehearsal I glanced over at one of our tenors and saw that he was holding his iPad throughout rehearsal rather than his music. Perry had scanned all of his music into PDF files and was reading from the iPad.

Perry with iPad

This caused quite the stir during break, and several of us pulled out iPads to compare scoring apps. Perry was kind enough to share his scanned PDF files (not illegal in this case since we have legitimate copies in our possession.) The following Monday evening I had the music on my iPad, as did soprano Amy.

Amy with iPad

…Which leads to this post in my series on iPad music. What apps are available for both reading and creating musical scores? Quite a few, as you might imagine. Continue reading “iPad Music Notation”