Ever since the iPad appeared last year I’ve been intrigued by the rash of music apps that have been created for it, almost on a daily basis. A large number of them are portals to FM radio sites or album sites for specific artists, but in amongst it all there are some fantastic instruments that exploit the iPad’s multi-touch screen in different and imaginative ways.
I’ve downloaded a few instrument apps and tried them out – with varying success. Virtual keyboards such as Virtuoso Piano 2 HD feature a lot, but for someone used to playing weighted keys, I find flat multitouch keyboards a little uninspiring.
Virtual drums such as OutOfTheBit’s iCongas Lite work just fine because the iPad surface simulates the flatness of a drumhead without trying too hard.
A favourite app of mine is the Celtic Harp – one of the few apps I’ve paid for (I usually go for the Lite version first). The Harp has 31 strings spaced just wide enough apart so that you can pluck them individually or strum different tunings easily. Volume and sharpness of notes are determined by where you touch the string. – bottom for soft and quiet, top for loud and sharp attack. It’s just such a clever use of the interface and makes playing the Harp a lot of fun.
Here’s a performance at Macworld 2011 by Jordan Rudess, a keyboardist with Dream Theater. His earlier experience playing a keyless keyboard called the Haken Continuum (now there’s a keyboard I could play …) lead him to create the MorphWiz app for iPad and iPhone:
And here’s a vocals/electronica mix featuring Jordan and Project RnL using MorphWiz and a few other instrument apps on several iPads. It’s a piece that sounds (weirdly) a little like 70s rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer crossed with Queen:
- Synth Project MC-20 (wiretotheear.com)
- Project RnL – drop ‘Another One’ with Jordan Rudess on iPad
- Haken Continuum examples from the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull film soundtrack