Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Few Reasonable Words

“ One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. ”
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy New Year!

The most popular gift in the UK was the tablet. In the run up to Christmas, Apple reckoned that every 50 seconds an iPad was purchased online or in  the store. Kindles, Samsung and even the Tesco Hudl were flying off the shelves at similar rates. If Santa left an iPad under your tree, I’m recommending two apps. One is a utility app, the other a music app.

Documents, by Readdle, is the Swiss Army knife of the iPad. Basically, it’s a drag-and-drop interface connecting you to Box, Google Docs, iCloud, FTP, WebDAV (and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all!) You can make folders inside just like a computer. You can view and annotate .PDF files. You can view Office files, media and create text files. It’s a media player as well. You can connect via WiFi or USB and drag and drop between all your online accounts. Once you try it, it will soon become your go-to app for moving documents on and off of your iPad.

“What’s the cost?” I hear you say, “I bet it is expensive!” Well, you will be wrong. Documents is free. Like Apple offering the iLife suite free. If you bought a new iPad after 1 September, 2013, you can get Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie and  iBooks for free and use them in the cloud with your Apple ID in your iPad, iPhone and your Mac. Not to mention Mail and Calendar.
The music app is a chord-based sequencer with an intriguing twist. Gone are cheesy synths, synthesized drums.  SessionBand is world’s only chord based audio loop app. Recorded by London’s top session musicians, each volume as packed with musical fine touches. SessionBand comes in six “flavours” SessionBand Blues - Volume 1,
SessionBand Rock - Volume 1,
SessionBand Jazz - Volumes 1 & 2,
SessionBand Acoustic Guitar - Volume , and1
SessionBand Piano - Volume 1.

The interface is simple. I’m going to load up a demo song “The Girl Form Brazil” from the Jazz Volume 1 app. You can write your own changes as well. You tap on the “Play” button. You will probably want to hook up external speakers to your iPad.  Fifteen styles in each volume, ranging from Ballad, 12/8, Slow Swing to Bossa Nove, Fast Latin, Up Swing and Afro Jazz.  Volume 2 the palate gets extended to Slow Funk, Poinciana, ECM, all the way to Reggae, Boogaloo, 5/4 and 7/4!

Tap the “Write” an you enter into a mode where you tap on the end of the bar and insert chord by tapping on the keys of a piano.  Repeated tapping make the chords advance through the options. Pinch two fingers to shorten the chord or expand to make the chord longer. Elapsed time, fill, ends are all there for your asking. Transpose for the whole song – not pitch-shifted but the whole loop is substituted.
Tap the “Mixer” and the five-track mixer is brought forward offering individual volumes for the bass, drums, piano, lead instrument and metronome. You can record with or without automation. Go back to the main screen, tap “REC” to arm, tap “1,2,3” for lead-in bar, tap “Play” and you are recording. Press “Export” to save. Press it again and choose “Export” and choose from “Live Recordings” or “SessionBand Tracks”.  You are presented with AudioCopy, Email. AudioCopy is for GaragBand or other synthesizers who support AudioBus files. Email gives you and option of Audio Only, SB File and Both.
“What’s the cost?” I hear you say, “I bet it is expensive!” Yes, Virgina, it costs, but it not expensive. It’s available for iPhone £1.49 - £5.99 and iPad £1.99 - £5.99. SessionBand Jazz as £5.99 per volume, but there’s a massive 16,000 loops to play with. SessionBand Blues is £2.49.  Warning from SessionBand – don’t buy if your device is older than an iPad 2 or and iPhone 4S.
I guess it’s time for closing. Documents, by Readdle for organization and SessionBand for music.  That’s a fine start to the year.  See you next time!