How musicians are using the iPad

While there is a huge number of music-related apps on the App Store, many of which offer unique and powerful tools, we've yet to see the kind of all-in-one, go-to application for music makers there is on the desktop; at the moment, it's a pick and choose affair.

Select the app that suits your need, whether you're a guitarist, vocalist or producer, and access other applications as and when you need them.

But the market is there for a fully fledged production suite that caters for all of these techniques and more. When asked about apps he'd like to see on iOS, Evan Taubenfeld's answer is simple: "Who doesn't want a more involved DAW on the iPad? Like Logic, for iOS."

evan taubenfeld

MUSIC MAN: Taubenfeld wants to see full workstation on the iPad

Sean Foreman, on the other hand, wants more in terms of control. "I'd really like to see more Ableton control on the iPad".

Rumours persist that Apple's iLife creativity suite will follow iWork to the iPad, and bring a fully featured music app to iOS in the form of GarageBand.

Whether Apple opts to follow the consumer path or wheel out a mobile version of Logic, remains to be seen, but if GarageBand appears on the iPad as iMovie did on the iPhone, the chances are it'll not only be impressive, but radically different to its current incarnation.

Should such an app come along, it's likely that the iPad would be the best fit with its larger screen and superior performance, and the app may carry a large pricetag. However, according to most musicians already using the iPhone and iPad, the market is there.

evan taubenfeld

STUDIO SESSION: Will iOS devices become tiny, shiny studios?

Little has been heard from the major music software developers on the iOS front. Steinberg's Cubase and Ableton's Live software are both likely contenders alongside Apple's Logic to make the ultimate iOS music tool in some form or other, and it may be the third-party developers that get there first.

Steinberg has already launched its free Cubase iC app that enables an iPhone or iPod touch to control desktop music software over Wi-Fi, and third-party developers have produced apps such as Griid by Liine and Touchable by AppBC to control Ableton Live. But we're still left with a certain void in the market.

If you're looking for a ray of hope, consider the work of Brian Transeau, the American electro star known as BT and creator of the stutter edit, a digital music technique.

His development skills have been well-documented, starting by writing his own software for Mac OS 9 and building software called BreakTweaker for his latest album through his company Sonik Architects.

Sonik Architects also developed Sonifi for iPhone and iPod touch with BT, which enables users to program beats and loops, add effects and shake the phone to perform stutter edits on the fly.

BT has also used an iPhone on-stage as part of a set and so has seen the benefits an iOS device can provide. If anyone were to build the ideal app for musicians and DJs, BT is one of the main contenders.

Tools of the trade

Concert pianists, music producers, rock stars and pop icons – the evidence that iOS is a genuine contender as a studio tool can't be ignored. So are music apps a gimmick or a genuine new wave of instruments?

If the professionals are to be believed, it's the latter, and to further cement that, you could consult the next edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

The academic tome, maintained since the 19th century with companion volume the Grove Dictionary of Music Instruments, will be including MooCowMusic's Pianist and Guitarist in its latest incarnation.

"I'm hugely flattered that I've created an instrument that is to be listed in the primary academic reference, and will be there for at least another couple of decades until the next edition," says Mark Terry. "But it's also really cool that iPhones are now being classed as musical instruments in their own right".

With developers such as Mark, as well as leaders in the music technology sector, working to help the professionals using iOS devices, there's a rock and roll future ahead for the iPhone and iPad.

From tour buses to studios, they look certain to see a lot more stage time than just Steve Jobs' keynotes in the coming months.


First published in Tap! Issue 1

Liked this? Then check out Tap! magazine for more apps, games and kit reviews for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

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