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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » apps


Listen to ambient sound from around the world, recorded with a 4’33” app

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 31 Oct 2019 6:31 pm

To anyone who says there are too many music makers in the world, maybe you aren’t aware of how much sound is in the world. Crowd-sourced iPhone recordings and the ghost of John Cage are here to set you straight.

First, there’s the app – the 4’33” app is an official, licensed app that makes field recordings to the exact specifications of John Cage’s infamous score as premiered in 1952 by pianist David Tudor. And yes, that means it even comes in the score’s original three movements – a fun fact you should definitely share at parties. (Hey, where did everybody go?)

The app has been out since 2014, courtesy John Cage Trust and publisher C.F. Peters. (Yes, C.F. Peters still owns the rights to a score that contains … nothing.) It’s $0.99 – a small price to pay for… well, for a new way of perceiving all the sounds of the world, maybe?

What’s really astounding about this is not so much the app, though, as the collection of sounds the app has made worldwide. And that has grown in the half decade since the app’s release. You might expect them to all be clustered around New York, San Francisco, and London, but instead six of the seven continents are represented. The iPhone microphone is pretty decent at recording a general monophonic ambience – a fancier stereo recording would do better, sure, but the phone somehow makes a representation of how we perceive and remember those spaces. So you can have a charming journey around the planet and its sounds.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

4’33” App for iPhone [App site and interactive map with sounds]

The post Listen to ambient sound from around the world, recorded with a 4’33” app appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru]

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 15 Oct 2019 10:58 am

Alexander Zolotov, genius creator of SunVox and other tools, strikes again. This time, you get a donationware “fractal” drum synth capable of producing some four billion unique sounds.

Each drum sound starts with an 8-character code, from which the synth generates the sound via “fractal algorithms.” It seems we may need to talk to him more about what the heck is going on here, but the results are gorgeous, metallic textures with richly varied possibilities.

You just navigate with the simplest controls a drum synth may have ever seen: next, previous, and (for editing the codes) edit. (There’s also a LCK button to “lock” a particular drum hit you like so you don’t lose it as you randomize the rest.)

Because there are eight characters spawning all of the sounds, you can copy or paste presets as plain text and share with others.

The drum synth is also playable. You can record individual hits and export them for use elsewhere (as in your favorite hardware drum machine). You can just finger drum in real time. You can control the synth from MIDI. You can export full recordings.

For now, this is only available on mobile platforms, but I’m trying it out on both iOS and Android. And as usual, Alexander has packed this with features – and this can be a sketchpad for his excellent, omniOS-compatible tracker, which also impossibly costs just a few bucks:

  • three types of keyboards for live drumming: on-screen buttons, PC keyboard, MIDI input;
  • six additional processing parameters + control of all parameters via MIDI;
  • real-time audio recording to WAV (32-bit);
  • export to: WAV (one file or a set), SunVox (samples + effects in one file), text clipboard;
  • iOS: Audio Unit Extension (AUv3), Audiobus, Wi-Fi export/import.

I mean, wow. Donationware / pay what you will.

https://warmplace.ru/soft/fbits/

The post Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru] appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 Oct 2019 6:32 pm

Okay, so you got the message not to rush into macOS Catalina. But we didn’t talk about the new iOS and what it means for musicians using iPads and iPhones in their work. Let’s explain.

What’s the hurry?

With iOS, just as with macOS, the main message is – don’t rush. Moving to grab a new OS the day it’s out is crazy. There’s virtually no case where you need to stay that current for music making. At the opposite extreme, never upgrading the OS is also problematic in most cases. You’ll eventually miss out on newer features in your favorite apps, and can even create security vulnerabilities if you wait long enough. (Since an iPad or iPhone is definitely connected to the Internet, that’s a serious issue in a way that it wouldn’t be on, say, a vintage KORG MS-20 hardware synth.)

iOS does pose an additional challenge: it’s practically impossible to roll back after upgrading. So take your time, leave some weeks for the bugs to be ironed out, and make sure you’re not upgrading right before going onstage with your iPad as a live instrument.

Okay, with all of that out of the way – iOS 13 doesn’t appear as though it will cause any long-lasting incompatibilities with music software. iOS 13 brought some major changes, particularly on the iPad, but those are gradually getting smoother out – in particular with the iOS 13.1 release.

Fixes are here or inbound

iOS 13 got off to a somewhat rocky start for music, but Apple are fixing issues and redeemed the OS, according to various developers with whom I’ve spoken.

There are two specific areas I’ve been tracking.

Bluetooth MIDI. iOS 13 does in the short term introduce some connectivity issues with working with MIDI over Bluetooth and discoverability. I’ve seen sporadic unconfirmed reports of this, plus an official statement from KORG that their wireless devices that work over Bluetooth MIDI are presently incompatible. (That’s microKEY Air, nanoKEY Studio, and nanoKONTROL Studio.)

Apple did make changes to some Bluetooth security permissions, as the company seems uniquely focused on security and privacy as issues. (See also: macOS Catalina.) I would presume that may be the reason for this.

KORG says they are working on a fix, though. Wired connections are also a workaround. There seems to be no evidence this will be a long-term issue, just something that requires some short-term fixes.

Inter-App Audio (and Audiobus). This one I think probably impacts more people – but there’s actually good news here.

Starting in iOS 12.4, software like Audiobus might encounter an issue where routing audio between apps ceased working when operating in the background (or interrupted by a call, etc.).

Anyway, it’s not so important now. These issues are fixed, both on iOS 12 (12.4.2+) and iOS 13 (13.1+).

Audiobus remains a great way to route audio between apps. And the migration to AUv3 from the original architecture is – actually okay, as well. I spoke with the developer of Audiobus and Loopy about how that transition will go earlier this year:

Other issues. iOS 13.1 delivered a bunch of fixes to various unexpected behaviors, and developers are following suit. (Bleeding edge, advanced apps like Moog’s Minimoog Model D and Model 15 saw some issues, which have since been resolved, CDM has confirmed.)

There are also some reasons to genuinely look forward to iOS 13, particularly in that it finally adds real file management (with Files), though it’ll take some time for developers to update their tools.

Bottom line

I’m not here to bash Apple releases or to be a cheerleader. The question is what will allow you to focus on making music. Right now, from Apple, that’s looking like macOS Mojave for the rest of 2019, and iOS 12.4.2+ or 13.1.

iOS 13 is a reasonable update at the moment if you’ve got some time to make adjustments. You don’t need to grab it right this instant, but you certainly could if you’re not sitting backstage about to play live on Bluetooth MIDI controllers.

Love it or hate iOS, I think it is plainly inaccurate to claim that Apple isn’t looking at these issues. We can say objectively they are attempting to fix issues identified by third-party music developers – as they should, as any OS vendor should. You don’t have to love the results, but you can’t say the process isn’t happening.

And on another level, I think it’s equally fair to say that Apple’s iPad is unmatched if what you’re looking to buy is a dedicated touch tablet. Sure, Windows is a player with its Surface line for running Windows software with some touch capabilities, and you will definitely even prefer a Surface if you want to run desktop-only software like Ableton Live or Reaktor.

But there’s no reason to change the evaluation of the iPad as a platform. Their low-end models are already powerful enough to run a host of live music and audio apps, with a growing range of pro-quality tools from the likes of Eventide. (That in itself is a big enough story to talk about separately, since it makes Eventide’s effects accessible and affordable like never before. There are other examples, too – but this one is particularly plain.)

If we missed something, do sound off in comments – developers or users – as we’d love to hear your experience and pass it along.

The post You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 10 Oct 2019 6:19 pm

It started with some feedback from a musician and music theorist to a developer. What happened next: this powerful set of Android music tools evolved some new rhythmic chops.

Android doesn’t get a lot of musical love, despite its popularity. But while the assortment of apps is a fraction of what’s available on iOS, some of the choices that are there are real gems. That opens up possibilities in case you prefer Android as your smartphone (some of which already get into tablet sizes), or if you’ve picked up an inexpensive Android tablet.

In this case, CDM reader Jon Stubbs had bought the Planet-h line of apps, and decided to get in touch with the developer about some additional rhythmic features he wanted. The results exceeded his expectations.

I’m recently back on Android myself with a Huawei phone and I do have a tendency to, uh, collect devices, so I found this fascinating. Jon asked if we would reprint his review. And it has everything I love – engineering and music theory meeting to let you do more with music-making. Here’s Jon:

Exploring rhythm

As a life-long learner, composer, performer, teacher and tinkerer, I’m obsessed with exploring new rhythms. It’s not just a pursuit of odd-for-odd’s-sake. Rather, I love hearing and crafting compositions where delightfully unusual rhythmic elements are presented in a blanced and compelling context.

This obsession began with the humble triplet and the music of Zimbabwe. I studied jazz and was accustomed to the well-worn rhythms of swing and triplets. Later, I found my way into the community of Zimbabwean music, where I was surprised to hear entirely new triplet-based rhythms; and where even the triplet grid itself has a “swing” that is refreshingly different from the even “grid” of western music.

Around that same time, I started creating quintuplet (5 steps-per-beat) grooves using a couple of drum machine apps. These apps forced me to fake the beat divisions using 16th notes, but I was still able to get my feet wet. Then I discovered the wonderful Metronomics app by John Nastos, which allowed me to delve into more unusual ideas. [Ed.: That app, dubbed a metronome for “real musicians,” is available on macOS, iOS, and Android, all three – you can also run it on Windows or Linux in an Android emulator.]

The grooves I eventually made with quintuplets, septuplets and nonuplets were serious fun – especially when using the technique of starting out with ordinary rhythms but then shifting them to fit the new subdivisions. The results are glitchy grooves with a new flavor of “shuffle”; these beats are quite natural sounding after only a few listenings.

A Simple Favor

From time to time, I’ve submitted requests to mobile app developers that they expand their step-rate (steps-per-beat) options to allow for greater exploration of new rhythms. Though my requests mostly go unanswered, I have had a few successes. However, no developer has met my requests with as much enthusiasm and determination as Andreas Graesser of Swiss-based Planet-h.com. The scope and quality of his G-Stomper Producer app are massively impressive, giving the user immense creative and sonic freedom.

I originally asked that he add quintuplets and septuplets to the existing step-rate options. He responded saying, “I have room for six more options”. We settled on expanding the step rates to include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 steps-per-beat! He made this change for all four apps in the G-Stomper lineup.

We worked together on ways to integrate time-signatures so that they look and act the way experienced musicians expect them to. For example, most mobile apps treat 6/8 (if they include it at all) as equal to 3/4– (3 beats, each divided into 2 or 4 steps) but 6/8 should actually be two beats with triplets (3 or 6 steps per beat). It is the same with 3/8, 9/8, 12/8, where the dotted-quarter note is the actual beat (and NOT the quarter, nor the eighth). Andreas had to make a few special cases to reveal more information than a typical time-signature would allow, yet without making it hopelessly confusing for seasoned users of his apps. He found an elegant set of solutions.

Andreas puts great care into the documentation– which is essential for this feature-packed, deep software. The docs were updated to clearly explain the new features. We both had very specific ideas about how to communicate things. We even debated over how to format a table. When there were a couple of button labels that were unclear to me, Andreas quickly adapted the docs to make things more clear. It was a fascinating and fun process.

G-Stomper apps

The apps in the G-Stomper product line include:

All of these apps provide slightly different features, approaches, and workflows. Yet they all use the same expanded system for step-rates and time signatures. It’s worth mentioning here that every step can be individually shifted by 32 micro steps (separate and apart from the timing system).  G-Stomper Producer provides the most flexibility by providing the aforementioned step-rates, 1-16 steps per bar, 1-8 bars, all on a PER TRACK basis. That means the kick, hat, snare, (or user samples) can all have their own timing setup. The other G-Stomper apps use a more standard groovebox approach with rhythm settings applying to all the tracks of a pattern. I like the flexibility and power of Producer, but I also appreciate the ease of workflow in the Studio, Rhythm, and VA-Beast apps. There are several best-in-class features in all of the apps, but rather than list them here, you can try out the demo and discover for yourself. 

If you’re an Android user and maybe you thought Caustic was the only game in town, you owe it to yourself to check out G-Stomper Producer. There’s a whole world of new sounds and rhythms to explore!

Jon Stubbs

www.jonstubbsmusic.com

G-Stomper Producer is available for $12.99 USD via Google Play or Amazon. A free demo version is also available.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

Planet-h website:

https://www.planet-h.com/

This story was edited from an original version on Jon’s site, with permission:

https://jonstubbsmusic.com/2019/09/25/g-stomper-producer-review/

The post Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Sep 2019 7:03 pm

So, you’ve got a plug-in or a hardware synth – and you want to control part of the sound with a physical knob or some iPad modulation. One clever iPad app and an open source scheme could make what happens next happen faster.

Early 1980s MIDI still gets the job done in a lot of ways. But then you hit this problem of mapping. Let’s say you’re an app developer, and you want to support a whole lot of different synths. (You know, like your customers may have been reading CDM and Synthtopia and Sonic State and bought, like, everything.) Your time is valuable, so you don’t want to spend all of it mapping gear.

Users, of course, have the same issue – from controllers to desktop software to apps, we often find ourselves having to manually create templates.

Developer Eokuwwy Development (aka Steven Connelly) faced this challenge with the app MIDI Mod. MIDI Mod is clever stuff, and worth a separate article – it gives you a ton of modulation options you can use to control gear, and then the ability to modulate the modulators internally (routing an LFO to the modulation that’s then routed to your synth). So you can get a bunch of elaborate changing, morphing sounds on whatever you choose.

The breakthrough from Mr. Connelly was to establish a standard schema for defining all those parameters to control. Got a Roland System-8? A Behringer Neutron? Yamaha Reface? BigSky reverb pedal? Moog Minitaur KORG volca sample IK multimedia Uno? Even other iOS apps? He’s got all of them. (Here’s a list.)

Other developers have done things like this before. (Native Instruments Maschine, for one, had similar mappings – though unfortunately, the engineers working on this support were to my knowledge included inthe layoffs last month.)

This developer is going one step further, by releasing the entire schema on GitHub for manufacturers and developers. And it could be relevant to anyone – someone making a hardware synth, a Web-based tool, an iOS app, desktop software, whatever.

As a user, you may not necessarily need to know how this works – only that it allows makers of software and hardware to make more stuff compatible, and work more consistently, faster. But the basic idea is, this not only defines a consistent way of defining parameters, but tools for automating testing and supporting control. (There are even just-added tools for generating specs from CSV files and HTML documentation from specs .)

Got a synth you want supported? Make the document once, and then – once they provide support for this schema – other tools will be able to work with your tool, check for errors, and even generate code and documentation. It’s a JSON schema, plus a whole bunch of useful examples. iOS developers should be able to get going really fast – even using Swift – but it’s pretty clear to everyone else, too.

I remember this conversation going on for at least a decade, even specifically talking about “wouldn’t it be nice if there were a JSON schema” for this. The reason is, Web developers do this sort of work all the time. It’s just that these were in the form of APIs for Web applications that … uh, stole all your data from a weird online survey that then sold that data to foreign spies or whatever the heck has been going on for the intervening time. I’m kidding, mostly – okay, most of this sort of JavaScript work is more like boring day job stuff.

Isn’t it about time that we applied that intelligence to music?

I don’t know that this particular implementation is perfect, but it is open source, it has everything I and others I had talked to wanted for such a thing, and so it seems time to put it out there.

(Yeah, maybe like minijack MIDI, we can all talk about this now, rather than wind up with two competing formats. Just a thought.)

I know there have been similar discussions to add this sort of functionality to a future version of MIDI. But this particular kind of schema doesn’t require anything in the MIDI spec itself – it’s only built around it. So this is something that works with MIDI 1.0.

Developers, have a look and let us know what you think. Maybe you can add to that list of apps supporting this.

Users, well, you don’t have to wait – you can check out MIDI Mod now, if you have an iPad. (And I better take the opportunity to make some docs for all our MeeBlip synths.)

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-schema

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-specs

MIDI Mod at the App Store

Developer site and a lot more info: https://eokuwwy.blogspot.com/

The post What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Sep 2019 3:10 pm

Get ready for some tablet patching. A developer has revealed a port of popular open source modular environment VCV Rack to the iPad.

Synth Anatomy gets the scoop on this one. New Zealand-based developer Vitaly Pronkin has been working on a project that promises to put the free rack synthesizer platform on the iOS app store soon.

The most encouraging thing here is probably seeing an easy interface for adding modules from VCV and third parties. That would open up an additional platform for developers’ modules.

Don’t get too excited too fast – this is best seen as a proof of concept, especially since it forks an earlier version (0.x rather than 1.0). But it could be a good indication of performance on Apple’s tablets, and might well be the basis for a more polished, finished project.

VCV Rack 1.0 is licensed under the GPLv3, which generally is not allowed on Apple’s App Store. (There are some loopholes, as we discovered when licensing the iOS port of Pure Data, libpd – but that has to do with the fact that Pd itself is under a more permissive license, and patches, for instance, are not compiled.)

Another way to go if this is what you want – try running Rack on a Surface or similar Windows tablet. That also allows greater compatibility with your usual audio tools than you get from iOS, and without Apple’s App Store restrictions.

I’m still happy with Rack on a PC, where it can take advantage of some unique performance enhancements, and instead externalizing control. (Playing live, I don’t really want to be re-patching at all, but that’s me…)

Check out the full blog post – there is also an interesting note on an abortive port to the Web and JavaScript and some embedded hardware:

miRack is coming to iOS

The other ports: https://github.com/mi-rack/Rack

The post iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

KORG are making Pokémon metronomes and tuners

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sun 8 Sep 2019 11:30 pm

If there was any doubt that KORG wants to be the Nintendo of music brands, here’s yet another partnership with the iconic game maker – but it’s sadly only skin deep.

Yes, it’s true, you get insanely cute Pokémon metronomes and clip-on pitch tuners. But there’s a missed opportunity here – whereas Teenage Engineering recently made full-on Rick & Morty Pocket Operators, KORG are only changing the paint job on their hardware.

The mind reels at the possibilities. You could have a Tamagotchi-style creature on your metronome. Or you could use Pokémon Go-style real-world capture to find synths for KORG Gadget. (Hang around Kottbusser Tor, Berlin to snag a rare Eurorackosaur; get a Prophetee 5 in Berkeley, California.)

Okay, I guess this may not help you with violin practice. (Maybe some gamification element to music learning?)

The point is, KORG continue to play on their relationship with gaming. So even if it’s just a cute tuner or metronome for kids, I think they’ve been very clever continuing to associate fun with their music tech. And fun is supposed to be part of the point, right?

The tuners (Pitchclip 2)

The metronome (MA-2-PK/EV)

The post KORG are making Pokémon metronomes and tuners appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Arturia’s KeyStep just got way more useful

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 14 Aug 2019 3:03 pm

Arturia’s KeyStep was already appealing – a mobile MIDI keyboard with sequencer and arpeggiator. But the 1.1 update improves some details and adds major new musicality.

Let’s look at this in detail – though the sequence length and arp octaves alone already have me sold.

A ton of power is now available on the fly, as you play.

Three new features are now available from the KeyStep’s physical controls, as you play:

Sequence length. Hold Record, and press one of the MIDI Channel keys, and you set length of the sequence on the fly. This actually works from 1 – 64 steps, just by pressing a few keys in sequence.

Quantized tempo adjustment: Now you can hold shift and turn the tempo knob to move by increments of 1 bpm. That lets you round off bpms from the tap tempo or quickly dial in a bpm without winding up with something weird. (127.62, anyone?)

Arp Octaves: With the arpeggiator running, you can now shift notes you’re playing up or down the octave. (The Arturia site is a little unclear on this – it sounds like they mean just shifting the arpeggiator up and down by octave. It’s actually cooler than this.) So hold Shift+Octave + or -, and whichever notes you’re playing will be arpeggiated up or down by octave. Hit the +/- key multiple times for multiple octaves. I can’t think of anything that works quite like this; it’s really cool and performative, because it’s all on the fly.

You’ll need the editor to access some new features.

Three modes are available in the updated MIDI Control Center software editor (so not onboard, but something you set in advance):

“Armed” clock. This gives you the option of using external sync, and passing it along, but controlling the KeyStep’s sequencer with the play button. There’s now a new parameter for switching on or off Arm to Start, which determines how the KeyStep responds to external clock.

Off is the original mode – the KeyStep Pro will just run or pause or stop with your external clock signal. But switch this to on, and the KeyStep lets you start and stop the sequencer as you see fit. You still pass the sync on to other gear. So for example, you could keep your drum machine running with the master clock, but turn on and off the sequencer on the keyboard, stop and jam for a second live, or whatever.

Pattern and Brownian Randomness. You can set randomness to Brownian Motion (“drunken walk) or “Pattern,” which creates randomized but repeating patterns. Pattern Mode is borrowed from Arturia’s MicroFreak synth.

Change LED brightness. Finally. No more blindness.

I still would love to see a KeyStep Pro, akin to the way the BeatStep Pro built on the original BeatStep. It’d be terrific to have a keyboard with some knobs for parameter controls. Having to use tiny DIP switches to set sync modes is a pain. And obviously there will be limits to how much Arturia can do with key combos (which already mean a little time spent cracking the manual), or software editor options. It’s not hard to imagine something that expanded this with extra features.

But for now, the KeyStep stays nice and compact – and you could always add a little box with some faders or knobs, since it is so small. Plus, even with some of its rivals, Arturia has a serious edge:

  • The keys feel great.
  • There’s MIDI DIN support for external gear.
  • There’s a standalone option (including a dedicated power plug).
  • It works with USB when you need it – no drivers required. (Hello, Linux/Raspi, etc., in addition to mobile, of course)
  • Its power consumption is low enough to work with iPad, etc., without additional power.
  • It’s stupidly affordable.

I think that with the additional performance options, this is the one to beat.

https://www.arturia.com/products/keystep/details

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Make music with mobile, MeeBlip, and one connection – here’s how (iOS, Android)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 25 Jul 2019 7:40 pm

It’s liberating – just take your phone or tablet, plug in a USB cable, and you can make music on this hardware synth anywhere. Here’s how to do that, with our MeeBlip geode, plus some tips on the best apps for both iOS and Android.

Inspiration is a funny thing, and somehow in the process of hunting around for interfaces and power sockets, you can wind up staring at a tangle of cables and no idea of what it was you were trying to do. So, I’m already finding it surprisingly empowering to be able to use the new USB port on the MeeBlip geode for both power and MIDI (sequencing notes and control). Every smartphone I’ve tested, plus the iPad, will gladly power the geode from the same connection.

Why not just use an app? Well, with the geode plugged in, you get some nice feeling knobs and switches, plus that grimy, dirty MeeBlip sound – and its screaming analog filter. To look at it the other way, all you need for different interfaces for playing this module, from step sequencers to touch keyboards, is your handy mobile gadget.

That also led me on a search for the best apps that support MIDI out. Not all do, Apple’s own GarageBand for iOS being notably incapable of the feat (unlike its Mac sibling). I also spoke with Ashley Elsdon, our resident mobile geek, for additional tips. So these apps will be working with lots of my other MIDI gear, too. And while I thought the Huawei Android handheld that I just got to replace my iPhone would leave me disappointed as far as music apps, I was glad to find some excellent Android-platform stuff, too. (For once, we don’t have to leave y’all out.)

First, here are a couple of jams on iOS, audio straight from the out jack of the MeeBlip. And these two I think count as my two favorite live performance tools for iOS (so far):

Mobile MeeBlip in action!

StepPolyArp may have been one of the first music apps I got for the iPad, actually. It’s an intuitive, deep combination of a piano roll editor for graphically drawing patterns, an arpeggiator, and a step sequencer. It syncs to Ableton Link, though I’ve also used plain MIDI clock. And yes, you can get grimy sounds out of geode, in case you didn’t know that.

https://dev.laurentcolson.com/steppolyarp.html

Arpeggionome Pro has a unique grid (influenced by the likes of the Tenori-On), and runs on both iPhone and iPad – it’s great handheld. Because of its particular approach to harmony and rhythm, it can lead you to some patterns you’d never play on a normal arpeggiator, let alone on a keyboard (unless you’re seriously some kind of pinball wizard). And yes, it also boasts Ableton Link support, so you can wireless sync up to another app or computer running lots of different software (not just Ableton Live).

It’s also on iOS, though ARPIO is an Android port from the original developer, and just lacks MIDI support – please, please!

More app ideas

On Android, there’s a powerful MIDI sequencer/arpeggiator toolkit that lets you build your own patterns:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=midi.midi.midi.looper.free&hl=en_US

Wildly enough, you can even use the Virtual ANS, a reimagining of a vintage Soviet synth, with MIDI output. The developer tells me he’s working on bringing that same MIDI output to his excellent tracker/production tool SunVox, where it makes more sense:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nightradio.virtualans3

Various production tools on Android also do MIDI output, though perhaps the easiest to use would be Touch DAW, which simply acts as a general-purpose MIDI controller for everything – including a keyboard.

iOS is as usual richer with options. Ashley / Palm Sounds recommends considering MIDI plug-ins, too.

apeMatrix as host + AUv3 MIDI plug-ins

Rozeta sequencer suite from our friend Ruismaker (or if you want to get really fancy, try scripting your own MIDI with Mozaic)

And there’s Fugue Machine, also from Alexandernaut who built Arpeggionome above, which could be wild. I might have to try that with multiple MeeBlips, uh, fuguing. Stay tuned.

Or think of Modstep, a powerful sequencer with scene triggering

What do you need for the connection?

On many new Android devices, you can actually plug a cable directly between your phone (USB-C) and the MeeBlip (USB-B). Otherwise, you’ll need a USB OTG adapter. These run about ten bucks (ah, this obviously isn’t from Apple).

On iOS with only Lightning connections, you need an adapter. The best of these is Apple’s Lightning to USB3 Camera Connection Kit. It’s pricey, but it gives you both a USB-A and a separate Lightning breakout, so you can power your iPad or iPhone and connect USB at the same time, rather than drain the battery. It’s reliable enough to use live onstage, and it’s what you’ll see me using in these images.

Of course, on a computer with a standard USB connection, you don’t need any special adapters.

Regardless, you’re sure to be able to quickly connect your MeeBlip in the studio or at home, and you can even mess around with ideas on the go or busk at the park or picnic.

MeeBlip geode is shipping now. Grab one if you don’t have it already for US$149.95, direct from us.

https://meeblip.com/

The post Make music with mobile, MeeBlip, and one connection – here’s how (iOS, Android) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Music on the go – Auxy app now has tweakable sounds, Ableton export

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 18 Jul 2019 2:24 pm

For all the app choices in music, a lot feel like plug-ins crammed onto the mobile screen. Auxy may have the essential combination of ingredients – a simple, quick UI, but now the ability to make sketches you finish in Ableton Live, and sounds you can more easily tweak.

Auxy always had an elegant, approachable UI. The tool basically strips the essential function of the familiar piano roll-style view so you can quickly sketch ideas with your fingertips.

But just being simple isn’t quite enough. Mobile apps all face the common problem of having to satisfy two very different use cases or workflows. Some people want to focus on music making right on the phone or tablet, stay away from their computers (or other gear), and yet make finished tracks. Others want the app to be a rough sketchpad for ideas they can use on the go, then finish in the more comfortable environs of their computer rig or studio. The problem is, of course, those come with different demands.

Swedish app Auxy has had two updates that address some of these cases.

First, Auxy 5.4 in April added direct export to Ableton Live projects. Cleverly, this exports both audio and MIDI, so you retain your sound designs from the app as stems, but can also use patterns to work with new sounds inside Live.

Auxy 5.4 also represents a new high water mark for Ableton’s SDK. Auxy encouraged Ableton to add features for populating the Arrangement, so that song ideas and arranging choices you make on the go are reflected when you open up your project in Live. These features will be available to other developers, too, so if you’re a dev, you can get in touch with Ableton. (And that’s important, too – the better this support works in different apps, the more useful mobile-to-Live workflows become.)

5.4 also added improved import/export for samples, imported samples that share when you share projects, and updated Ableton Link support.

Auxy 6 is a major update just released this month, focusing on giving you more control over sounds and effects. And that addresses the other thing that might have kept you from adopting Auxy in the past – the simplicity is great, but you might feel constrained by the available sounds.

Auxy launched as a kind of preset machine. That makes things simpler, but might be uninspiring if you feel like you can’t shape your own sounds. That changes with some significant features:

The new tweak panel. Hmm, Build Up Stress? Been there.

More effects for instrumental sounds: distortion, delay, reverb, chorus, filter, ducker, and EQ sounds everywhere – customizable, not locked to presets.

More effects for drums, too: delay, distortion, compressor, filter, EQ, and ducker are now available on drums.

Shape sound envelopes: attack, release, glide, offset. (works on drums, too)

Free grid mode: move notes and automation freely as you edit.

Browse sounds by category.

This isn’t going to sound so revolutionary, but of course that is always the challenge when trying to keep things simple – there’s a lot to think about adding even simple features.

All in all, Auxy has really evolved into one of the easiest, most elegant sketchpads for music on mobile. There’s many things it isn’t – it’s not really about live playing, it’s not a full-featured DAW (and doesn’t try to be), it’s not really an audio multitrack. But what it is, it really focuses on. And with Live export, that could prove invaluable.

Auxy regularly select favorite user tracks, which is a nice way to get a feel for what people are doing. Here are the Staff Picks for last month:

Plus one creation made in this latest release:

Check out Auxy for iOS (no Android version, sorry):

https://auxy.co/

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SEGA, Taito arcade come to KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 4 Jul 2019 6:46 pm

Here’s one serious Japanese game + music nerdgasm: legendary arcade maker Taito, game giant SEGA all come together on the KORG platform on the Nintendo platform.

KORG Gadget on the Nintendo Switch was always at least an intriguing novelty. As with titles for Nintendo DS and Game Boy before it, bringing a music creation tool to a game platform means the ability to swap between gaming and music making for maximum fun. The Switch doesn’t have a unique onboard hardware synth like the Commodore 64 or vintage Nintendo machines. But it does also have the twist of connecting to a TV.

That’s cool, but frankly, it’s also not quite enough. Handheld gaming for musicians caught on partly because of a unique sound, and it happened before platforms like iPhone, iPad, and Android were available. If you have a choice between using Gadget on a Switch or in its original version on the iPad, well, it’s no contest – the iPad is more capable.

That’s what makes this a development. Now you get something that seems tailored to a game platform, from two titans of the arcade era.

Otorii is a sample-based instrument and rhythm generator, based on 80s SEGA arcade titles.

Titles: Out Run, After Burner

Ebina is a synthesizer built on FM sounds (apparently not doing FM itself, but capturing some signature FM sound samples), also with 80s colors in mind.

Titles: Darius, The Ninja Warriors

Kamata is a sound engine (already part of the Switch title) developed with Bandai Namco.

SEGA and Bandai Namco presumably need no introduction to anyone interested enough in gaming to even read this far. If Taito is familiar and you don’t know why, that’s because its name has graced the likes of Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid, Battle Gear, and Kick Master. Sometimes Americans saw these titles with other distributors onboard, and Taito hasn’t been independent since the mid-90s, but you’ve likely also encountered the development house as part of its new life as part of Square Enix.

In short – this is Japan at its best, making us fall in love with something fun in childhood and then staying with us through our adult lives. Whether you’re particularly bound to Taito in the arcade, that’s something other Japanese music tech makers might learn from. (Partnership is key to the success of KORG here – they work with experienced mobile and game developer and Japanese neighbor DETUNE for these titles.) Roland, Yamaha, and Casio continue to have a rocky relationship with their own legacy (with some promising recent signs). But if the games industry has fended off clones and rivals, surely music tech could do the same – with plenty of back catalog to mine.

In any event, I know plenty of electronic musicians who are just as addicted to gaming – men and women, young and old, and plenty who even work inside the gaming industry. There’s nothing to do but smile when you see it come together. Game on.

http://www.detune.co.jp/

http://gadget.korg.com/nintendo_switch/

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SubLab is an 808 bass synth and more, from makers of Circle

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 11 Jun 2019 4:36 pm

Hard-hitting sub bass and percussion is the focus of SubLab, a new instrument from Future Audio Workshop. And it puts a ton of sound elements into an uncommonly friendly interface. Let’s get our hands on it.

This begins our Tools of Summer series of selections – stuff you’ll want to use when the nights are long (erm, northern hemisphere) and you need some new inspiration from instruments to actually use.

We hadn’t heard much lately from Future Audio Workshop. Their ground-breaking Circle instrument was uniquely friendly, clean, and easy to use. At a time when nearly all virtual instruments had virtually unreadable, tiny UIs, Circle broke from the norm with displays you could see easily. Beginners could track signal flow and modulation, and experts (erm, many of them, you know, older and with aging eyes) could be more productive and focused.

SubLab takes that same approach – so much so that a couple of quick shots I posted to Instagram got immediate feedback.

And then it’s just chock full of bass – with a whole lot of potential applications.

Sound layers, plus filter, plus distortion, plus compressor – deceptively simple and powerful.

So, sure, FAW talk trap and hip-hop and future bass and sub basslines – you’ll get those, for sure. But I think you’ll start using SubLab all over the place.

If you just want a recipe for 808 bass, this instrument is there for you. You can layer and filter and overdrive and distort sounds into basslines made from punchy drum bits. Then you discover that this produces interesting melodic lines, too. Or that while you have all the elements of various kick drums not only from Roland but sampled from a studio full of drum machines (Vermona to JoMoX), you … might as well make some punchy kicks and toms.

It’s just too fast. And that’s not because the interface is particularly dumbed down – on the contrary, it’s because once all the chrome and tiny controls are out of the way and the designers focused on what this does, you can get at a lot of options more quickly.

The synth has an easy-to-follow structure – sound, distortion, compressor. Sound is divided into a simple multi-oscillator synth, a sample playback engine, and then the trademarked ‘x-sub’ sub-oscillator. You can then mix these separately, and route a percentage of the synth and sampler to a multi-mode filter. (Don’t miss the essential ‘glide’ control lurking just at the bottom, as I did at first.) Pulling it all together, you get a ‘master’ overview that shows you how each element layers in the resulting sound spectrum.

Also in the sound > synth section, you can easily access multiple envelopes with visual feedback. (Arturia, who I’m also writing about this week, have also gone this route, and it makes a big difference being able to see as well as hear.)

The sampler has essential tracking, pitching, and looping features for this application. The x-sub bit is uniquely controllable – you can set individual harmonic levels just by dragging around purple vertical bars. It’s rare to sculpt sub-bass like this so easily, and it’s addictive.

X-sub (trademarked?) means you can sculpt the harmonics inside the sub-oscillator section just by dragging.

The interface is easy enough, but a couple of characteristic additions really complete the package. The sampler section is full of inspiring hardware samples to use as building blocks – great stuff that you might use for your non-melodic kicks, or try out for punchy percussion and melodies even in higher registers. The Distortion also has some compelling modes, like the lovely “darkdrive” and convincing tube and overdrive options.

Tons of hardware samples abound for layering.

There aren’t a lot of presets – it looks like FAW’s plan is to get you hooked, then add more patch packs. But with enough sound design options here, including custom sample loading, you might be fine just making your own.

Really, my only complaint is that I find the filter and compressor a bit vanilla, particularly in this age of so many beautiful modeled options from Native Instruments, Arturia, u-he, and others.

I figured I would be writing this glowing review and telling you, oh yeah, it’s definitely worth $149.

But — damn, this thing is $70, on sale for $40.

Sheesh. Just get it, then. There are lots of deeper and more complex things out there. But this is something else – simple enough that you’ll actually use it to design your own creative sounds. As FAW has shown us before, visual feedback and accessible interfaces combine to make sound design connect with your brain more effectively.

https://futureaudioworkshop.com/sublab

Here’s me messing around with it to prove it can do things other than what it was intended for:

And more hands-on videos from the creators:

The post SubLab is an 808 bass synth and more, from makers of Circle appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Jam like you’re in a Tarkovsky film with this major app update

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 5 Jun 2019 11:33 pm

Virtual ANS from prolific omni-platform developer Alexander Zolotov brings back spectral synthesis like it’s the mid-century USSR. But it also future-proofs that tech – full Android and iOS (plus desktop) support, and now a version that’s polyphonic and MIDI playable.

Alexander Zolotov can single-handedly make a mobile device useful. On my new Android phone, it was his stuff I grabbed first – and, well, last. Once you’ve got a tracker like SunVox that runs anywhere, what more do you need?

And for anyone bored with the world of knobs and subtractive synthesis (yawn), enter the eerily beautiful alien sound world of the ANS – an alternate timeline of synth history in which sound is painted as well as made electrical. The creation of Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin, the ANS used a unique analog-optical hybrid approach. Borrowing from the graphic scores used in early film audio, waveforms were optically produced. It’s What You See Is What You Get For Sound – the spectrogram is the interface as well as a representation of what you hear. This technique is what creates the gorgeous, otherworldly timbres of Tarkovsky’s Solaris – and now it can be on your phone.

The original ANS – its name drawn from the initials of Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, the synesthesia-experiencing esoteric composer – used a series of optical discs. It’s easier to do this in software, of course. Everything works in real time, you can have as many pure tone generators as you like (since you won’t just run out of optical-mechanical wheels), and you can convert to and from digital files of both images and sounds.

Sound from pictures, pictures from sounds.

Now with MIDI support on both Android and iOS (not to mention desktop OSes).

ANS 3.0 is a major update that moves the whole affair from fascinating proof of concept to a full-featured instrument. You can now map polyphony, and you can play your creations via MIDI – including via external MIDI controllers.

Adding MIDI controllers actually makes for a wild instrument:

Oh, and remember how I just said that AUv3 was the way forward on iOS? Well, Sasha is of course supporting AUv# – as he’s supported Audiobus, IAA, JACK, ALSA, OSS, MME, DirectSound, and ASIO in the past. (That long list of formats comes from supporting Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS all at once.)

And there’s more. On iOS, you get high-res support and MIDI. Android 6+ has MIDI support. Linux gets multitouch support. Files are accessible in the file system of both iOS and Android – including all those project, image, and sound files. There are more audio export options, new brushes, new lighten and darkening layering modes like you’d expect in Photoshop, and lots of shortcuts. Check the full changelog:

http://warmplace.ru/soft/ans/changelog.txt

Of course, because it runs on every platform (well, every modern platform), you can sketch an idea on your Android phone, move to iPad and work some more, then load it onto your PC and drop it into a DAW.

Frankly, I think it’s more exciting than anything from Apple this week, but I am impossibly biased toward this esoterica so … that goes without saying.

Enjoy:

http://warmplace.ru/soft/ans/

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The future of inter-app sound on iOS: a chat with Audiobus’ creator

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 5 Jun 2019 11:25 am

Many iOS music makers want to route audio between apps – just as you would in a studio. But news came this week that Apple would drop support for its own IAA (Inter App Audio), used by apps like KORG Gadget, Animoog, and Reason Compact. What will that mean? I spoke with Audiobus’ creator to find out.

Michael Tyson created popular music apps Audiobus and Loopy. And he’s made frameworks for other developers, too, not only supporting countless developers working with Audiobus, but also creating the framework The Amazing Audio Engine, now part of Audiokit. So he’s familiar with both what users and developers want here.

Audiobus is key. At first, iOS music apps were each an island. Audiobus changed all that, by suggesting users might want to combine apps the way they do on an stompbox pedalboard or wiring gear together in a studio. Take an interesting synth, add a delay that sounds nice with it, patch that into a recording app – you get the idea. That expectation was also familiar from plug-in formats on desktop and inter-app tools like the open source JACK and Soundflower. And Tyson’s team developed this before Apple followed with their own IAA or the plug-in format AUv3.

So now, having pushed their own format, Apple is abandoning it. iOS and the new iPadOS will deprecate IAA, according to the iOS 13 beta release notes.

This won’t mean you lose access to your IAA apps right away. “Deprecated” in Apple speak generally means that something remains available in this OS release but will disappear in some major release that follows. Apple often deprecates tech quickly – as in one major release later (iOS 14?) – but that’s anyone’s guess, and can take longer.

That is still a worry for many users, as many iOS developers do abandon apps without updates. It’s tough enough to make money on an initial release, tougher still to squeeze any money out of upgrades – and iOS developers are often as small as one-person operations. Sometimes they just go get another job. That may mean for backwards compatibility it even makes sense to hold on to one old iPad and keep it from updating – not only because of this development, but to retain consistent support for a selection of instruments and effects.

But if you’re worried about Audiobus dying in iOS 13 – don’t. Michael explains to CDM what’s going on.

Audiobus 3.

Can you comment on the deprecation of Audiobus and IAA for iOS? It’s safe to say this should mean compatibility at least for the forseeable future, but not much future in OS updates after that, given Apple’s past record?

To be specific, this is a depreciation of IAA rather than Audiobus – Audiobus is a combination of a host app, and a communication technology built into supporting third party apps. The latter is presently based on IAA, but doesn’t have to be.

As for the IAA deprecation, I consider this a very positive move by Apple. The technology that replaces it, Audio Unit v3, is a big step forward in terms of usability and robustness, and focusing their own attention and that of the developer community on AUv3 is a good thing. I doubt IAA is going anywhere any time soon though; deprecations can last many years.

Does this mean the Audiobus app will reach its end of life? Do you have plans for further development in other areas?

Not at all. I’ve got lots of plans for Audiobus, to increase its value as an audio unit host, and possibly to fill the gap left by IAA if it’s ever switched off.

Do we lose anything by shifting to AUv3 versus IAA? (I have to admit I have a slightly tough time wrapping my head round this myself, in that there’s a workflow paradigm shift here, so it’s not so fair to compare the enabling technologies alone…)

AUv3 is actually quite impressive lately, and continues to grow. As you say, they’re pretty different workflows, so it can be tricky to compare. The shortcomings we see I largely put down to developers not fully exploiting the opportunities of the platform – myself included! This will only improve going forward, I suspect.

There is one pretty big downside, which is that implementing AUv3 support in an app is a lot harder than implementing IAA, which itself is harder than implementing Audiobus support. It’s the difference between just a few lines of code, and a whole restructure of an app. Minutes vs days or weeks; worse if there’s file management involved. For apps that want to host audio units (on the receiving end), it’s a lot more work too, as they would need to implement all of the audio unit selection and routing themselves, rather than letting Audiobus do all the work and just receiving the audio at the end.

This is the reason there are still plenty of apps that only do Audiobus or IAA – my own apps Loopy and Samplebot included! If those apps that don’t have AUv3 yet don’t update in time and Apple ever pull the plug on IAA, those will just stop working. And it’s possible we’ll see less adoption of AUv3 for new apps.

But if things do go that way, I’m completely open to the possibility of stepping in to fill the gap left by IAA; there’s no reason Audiobus couldn’t continue to function as it does right now without IAA, as this is how it worked in the beginning. But we’ll wait and see what happens.

AUv3 plug-in format is supported by instruments and effects, like this RM-1 Wave Modulator from Numerical Audio.

Is there some way to re-imagine Audiobus using AUv3?

Audiobus actually already has great AUv3 support built in, and lots of users are already on exclusively AUv3 setups. I’m continuing to add stuff to make the workflow even better, like MIDI learn and MIDI sync – and 2-up split screen coming soon.

Have you heard reaction from other developers?

Not as yet, no.

So you see a justification to Apple going this direction?

Sure, I’d say it’s so we can all focus on the new hotness that is AUv3. IAA was never enormously stable, and felt like a bridging technology until something like AUv3 came along. The resources of the audio team at Apple are just better put towards working on AUv3.

Thanks, Michael. We’ll keep an eye on this one, and if there’s anything CDM can do to pass on useful information to developers interested in adding AUv3 support, I imagine we can do that, too.

https://audiob.us/

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Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 9:08 pm

Playdate is a Game Boy-ish gaming handheld with a hand crank on it, wired for delivering indie and experimental games weekly. And it comes from an unlikely collaboration: Mac/iOS developer Panic with synth maker Teenage Engineering.

Yes, that svelte retro industrial look and unmistakable hand crank are the influence of prolific Swedish game house Teenage Engineering. And TE have already demonstrated their love of cranks on their synths, the OP-1 and OP-Z.

This isn’t a Teenage Engineering product, though – and here’s the even more surprising part. The handheld hardware comes from Panic, the long-time Mac and iOS developer. I’ve been a Panic owner over the years, having used their FTP and Web dev products early on in CDM’s life, as did a couple of my designers, and even messing around with Mac icons obsessively back in the day.

But now Panic are doing games – the spooky Wyoming mystery Firewatch, which has earned them some real street cred, and an upcoming thing with a goose.

The really interesting twist here is that the “Playdate” title is a reference to games that appear weekly. And this is where I might imagine this whole thing dovetailing with music. I mean, first, music and indie games naturally go hand in hand, and from the very start of CDM, the game community have been into strange music stuff.

The obvious crossover at some point would be some unusual music games and without question some kind of music creation tool – like nanoloop or LittleGPTracker. nanoloop got its own handheld iteration recently – see below – but this would be a natural hardware platform too.

Even barring that, though, I imagine some dovetailing audiences for this. And it does look cute.

Specs:
400×240 (that’s way more resolution than the original Game Boy), black and white screen
No backlight (okay, so kind of a pain for handheld chip music performance)
Built-in speaker (a little one)
D-pad, A and B switches
USB-C connector
… and it looks like there is a headphone jack

Not sure what the buttons on top and next to the display do – power and lock, maybe?

Involved game designers are tantalizing, too – and have some interesting music connections:

Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy)

Zach Gage (SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing)

Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and – music lead again, he was the bassist in Cut Copy, remember them?)

Shaun Inman (also a game composer, as well as a designer of Retro Game Crunch, The Last Rocket, Flip’s Escape, etc.)

This takes me back to that one time I hosted a one-button game exhibition at GDC (the game developer conference) with Kokoromi, the Montreal game collective. That has accessibility implications, too, including for music. (Flashback to their game showcase at the same time.) So there is crossover here, I mean – and intersecting interests between composers and game designers, too.

US$149 will buy you the console and a 12 game subscription. Coming early 2020.

Music connections or no, it looks like a toy we’ll want to have.

https://play.date/

EDGE, the print mag, has an exclusive – with an excerpt of that feature online:

https://play.date/edge/

Thanks to Oliver Chesler for the tip.

Obvious marketing campaign, though only for Panic wanting to market to Americans of my age or so…

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