There have been a number of interesting things in the news this week in the keyboard world.
Firstly, there's been a noticeable increase in the release and coverage of apps - especially iOS (e.g. iPhone, iPad) apps - enabling users to play, record and/or learn keyboard on screen
. Playing piano on a flat screen really is a big industry now!
Next, as a piano player nearly all my life, this one came as a bit of a surprise to me - there is actually such a thing as a left-handed piano
! Yes, a piano which is a complete mirror image of a standard piano, specially designed for left-handed players by a left-handed player. The piano has all the highest pitch notes as the far left of the keyboard and all the bass notes towards the top / far right. Strange but true.
Finally, I was amazed by this very cool online music player from Japan called Songle
. It enables you to upload a link to any URL containing an mp3 file (or a link to a song on SoundCloud) and it will analyse and provide a visual representation of what it finds in the song. Structures, chords, beat analysis, interpretation of where the chorus starts... pretty amazing stuff.
There's never a dull moment in the world of music...
Today I read about a new app called Condition One
, which promises to revolutionise the way online media is consumed.
Essentially the app enables the user to view a video on screen, but becomes immersive in that when you turn the screen in any direction, the moving image on screen will pan in that direction.
It is best to see a demo of the video (below) or download the app to test free to see what it can do.
It left me thinking how great it would be to have the app change the stereo panning of the audio - as well as the vision - based on where in the "image" you were "looking". The experience at the moment, while somewhat immersive, is still quite one-dimensional - something that stereo panning could assist with overcoming.
Imagine seeing an image of a truck pass by on screen, you could hear it approach on the right and move to the left of your screen as the sound would pass from right to left also. Then if you move the screen to the left to focus on the truck, the object now in the centre of your screen, the sound of the truck would also be moved to the centre.
Technically this would be a huge feat, but surely not too far off...
You can now download the free Flutter app for Mac or Windows
and be able to control playback of your iTunes library with just a hand gesture. Really. And it's not just iTunes you can control - you can also play and pause Spotify, VLC, Quicktime and there will surely be more on the way.
When I first read about this I thought it all sounded a bit gimmicky and geeky, but it's actually not. As the Flutter website
suggests, there are times when being able to play and pause your music via a hand gesture is handy. e.g. when you have many windows open. With just a wave of the hand in the air you can pause or start playback, regardless of what you're working with on-screen at the time. Truly handier in practise than it may sound.
Before checking the app out myself I wanted to read more about it or see a quick demo on YouTube. Then I realised the app is free and very quick to download. Within a minute I was using it and posting this!
One thing I'm sure will be on the developers' minds already - it brings a "touchscreen" like experience to controlling your audio and you naturally want to be able to swipe your hand left or right to skip tracks, maybe even shake your hand to shuffle tracks. Perhaps in future you could just throw up a maloik
and immediate hear a metal track... the sky's the limit with this one.
I'm enjoying it and look forward to seeing it developed further. Hope you enjoy too.
Some time ago I started using SugarSync
, a great tool for easily accessing, synching and sharing files across multiple computers and mobile devices.
While this sounds a bit techy, in reality there are some awesome things you can do with SugarSync. One of them I particularly like as a composer - and that's being able to carry my music portfolio in my pocket.
Now you might think you could just have a playlist setup in iTunes or something and have that stored on your phone, ready to play when needed. Sure, that would allow you to access your music on the go, but what if you wanted to quickly and easily share
one of your tracks with someone? Maybe you're a muso wanting to send a demo track or two to a venue manager you just met. A player looking to join a band you've just seen play live. Or a composer keen to share a demo of your work to a prospective client...
SugarSync not only enables you to access and play your music on the go from your phone, but you can simply tap a button to send a link to that track via email. Sweet.
Here's a rundown of a few steps I take each time I finish a new composition. These quick steps make it easy to access and share my music anywhere, anytime, with anyone:
- When I finish a new track, I use XLD to convert the large WAV file to a more transportable mp3 version
- I then drag the mp3 to an "mp3s" folder on my desktop, where all my project mp3s are stored
- This folder is automatically synched to SugarSync, which means that by just dragging the mp3 to this folder, the next time I open SugarSync on my phone I'll have access to the track - including the ability to play it and share it directly with others.
Hope you find this useful. Now get out there and spread your music to the world!
Earlier today a friend asked me how to set up a wireless audio system in his house. I'm sure he's not alone in asking the question, and while there are many resources providing information on how to do this online, the options and conflicting opinions can be pretty daunting at first. So here's a little overview from me to you.
It is pretty simple to set up actually - pretty low tech from a user's perspective and easy to set up once the initial purchases have been made.
There are also a few ways to do this. I'm not an Apple Fanboy but have found that the following Apple-based system is reliable, as long as your WiFi signal is strong enough. Other than your computer, the following two pieces of hardware are all that is needed:
1. An Airport Extreme
, used as a wireless router. This is what will stream the music from your computer to other parts of your house. I have previously used non-Apple routers (e.g. Belkin) with varying levels of success. But Apple talking to Apple tends to be much easier to set up and save you hours of fruitless head-scratching and Googling.
2. An Airport Express
, used to receive the audio signal streamed from your machine / router. This little unit just plugs into a power point, and has a headphone jack on the bottom. This unit receives the audio sent from your computer (via the wireless router e.g. Airport Extreme), and using the headphones jack you can just plug the output into the stereo / speakers of your choice.
Out of the box you'll be able to set up iTunes to stream audio from your computer to your remote speakers i.e. whatever speakers you have which are plugged into the headphones jack of the Airport Express.
iTunes will do the work to make sure the audio stays in synch, so if you walk away from your computer playing music into another room which is remotely streaming the music, it will all be in synch. Nice.
With these couple of bits of hardware, you will be streaming music from iTunes. If you want to go one step further, you can stream ANY audio from your computer to your remote speakers. e.g. stream online radio, YouTube, system sounds, you name it. This is great if iTunes is not the only program you wish to be tied to when listening to music or audio. To stream any audio, get the brilliant AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba
Once set up, you can then ready my other tips on optimising the quality of your WiFi signal
. More iTunes related audio tips
can be found in the iTunes section of my blog
Hope that helps! Happy listening.
A short time ago I stumble across a great post from WinkSound - with some excellent tools to help convert, play and share audio
. I have since been using this trio of Mac apps to streamline sending demos of tracks I am working on to clients.
But taking these free (yes, free!) apps away from an audio creation context, two in particular are indispensable for quickly and easily sending files to the cloud or listening to audio.
- this is a simple little app to enable very easy transfer of files to cloud storage. The basic plan is free, and fine for most file-transferring needs but not suitable so for long-term backup or storage. Once signed up, simply dragging a file into the app's icon will transfer it to the cloud. Further streamlining things, as soon as the upload is complete the link to your upload is automatically copied to your clipboard, ready to paste into an email.
- anyone on a Mac would be familiar with the common process of being able to listen to an audio file such as a WAV or mp3 by simply highlighting the file and pressing space bar (to play it in the Finder preview window) or double clicking it to open it in iTunes. Each of these processes has its shortfalls. The preview window won't enable the audio file to keep playing in the background if you switch to another app or select another file. Alternatively, adding a file to iTunes every time you listen to something new is a time consuming and unnecessary process. Vox is a lightweight audio player which is great to get around both of these issues. I especially like the app's icon which displays a neat, circular playback progress status during play.
Hope these tips help musicians and non-musicians alike.
My studio hard drive was running low on space recently, which meant an upgrade to my daily storage and backup systems.The outcome of this was a transfer of my whole iTunes library from an internal disk to an external. The phrase
"hindsight is always 20/20" could not be more true in this case, as in the process I managed to break most of the links iTunes had to its mp3 files! The effect - most files I attempted to play back through iTunes showed a dreaded exclamation mark warning that they would not play back correctly as the actual file could not be located. Argh!After a little investigation, I ended up purchasing TuneUp. Read on - this is not simply an endorsement...Most people - such as myself until recently - might remember TuneUp as being an annoying popup which appeared some time back whenever you launched iTunes (unless you disabled the popup). The program promises to clean your iTunes library, adding in missing tags and missing cover art, generally tidying things up. It also offers to dedupe your library so that multiple instances of the same track are removed. Now, let me be clear. TuneUp is not a simple matter of one click and everything is sorted. To be honest, I had a frustrating problem with the program in that many times while it was "cleaning"
or finding missing info, it would hang. The program requires an internet connection of course, but even when all other browsing and online activity was fine, this thing would hang and need to be restarted to pick up where it left off. Frustrating, especially if you are cleaning a large audio library for the first time. What is TuneUp good at? The hanging issue aside, it does a good job at finding missing cover art for your tracks. It also d
oes a good job at filling out missing or incorrect detail such as album, track or artist titles. Deduping seemed to be a little hit and miss for my liking. Especially given that my library contained a lot of broken links given the recent hard drive changes, TuneUp didn't seem to have an ability to prioritise a track in the iTunes library that it could find over one which was a broken link in the library.
As such, even on manual review of each duplicate found, it was difficult to choose the correct one to keep. How did I get around this? A big thank you to the authors of this post titled "How To Remove Broken Songs From iTunes Library
". Following these steps, I was able to remove duplicates from my library relatively quickly and easily, ensuring that broken links were completely taken out of the picture. In summary, if you can handle the frequent need to relaunch the program, TuneUp does a good job of adding missing tags to your audio tracks and finding missing cover art. But this is how to freely and easily remove broken songs from your iTunes library.
Often I post less than positive comments on the state of the music industry. The difficulty on getting yourself heard
as an artist, the popularity of television shows revolving around people singing covers
, and the popularity of Auto-Tune
. This post is like an ad break from those "heavy" thoughts - simply to draw attention to an app which is likely to be very funny very quickly (then become very old very quickly!). It's called Songify, released July 7 2011 on iTunes.As a precursor to understanding Songify, it is recommended that you become acquainted with the work of The Gregory Brothers.
These guys first came to my attention when I saw the clip below.
The Gregory Brothers commonly take recordings of (usually already comical) footage and use Auto-Tune
among other tools to put the words to music. In the example above, Antoine Dodson was originally providing a report to camera crews of a crime scene. Next thing he knows he's a YouTube sensation with videos, albums, TV interviews and T-shirts baring his name. With the release of Songify, anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod can take a recording of their own voice and it will automatically turn it into a "song". The results do get a laugh as you hear the most mundane comments turned into the kind of thing you hear on the charts.
The app is free and incredibly fast and easy to use.Does it make anyone a musician? No! Is it funny? Yeah. Will it have longevity? Absolutely not. Enjoy for a few minutes until you're sick of it!
If you're using social media such as Twitter or Facebook, or have ever been sent a YouTube clip of some band or performance you just have to check out, you'll know what I mean: it's not always "the right time" to listen to something new. Maybe you were out and didn't have a decent set of headphones on you at the time. Maybe you were at work and couldn't fain looking busy while you were listening to a new clip. Maybe you
just don't have the time to give a new track the attention it deserves at the time it comes to your attention. So much new music I discover is found while online. An email, a tweet, a YouTube clip, a link to a website. It's not often I become aware of a new artist or performance via radio, TV or press. For this reason, I've become a real fan of using Instapaper to save these links, emails, websites etc to a single spot that I can come back to later when I have more time. Instapaper is a very simple to install, simple to use, and free means of "bookmarking" the bits and pieces you come across online, saving them to a neat spot to check out later. In the words of the developer on his FAQs page:"I appreciate great writing, but I’ve become frustrated with the quick-consumption nature of many devoted blog readers... popular blogs are now full of useless “list posts” with no substance or value... well-written content is out there, and we do have opportunities every day to read it — just not when we’re in information-skimming, speed-overload mode...The times we find information aren’t always ideal for consuming it. Instapaper helps you bridge that gap."Tweaking the intention slightly, from consumption of written articles to attention to undiscovered music, I find Instapaper equally compelling. To paraphrase the above,
I appreciate great music, but I’ve become frustrated with the fast-food style nature of many artists and listeners. Commercial radio and other popular channels are full of hear today gone today artists bringing little of substance to the listener. Well composed music is out there and we do have opportunities every day to listen — just not when we’re in information-skimming, speed-overload mode...
The times we find new music aren’t always ideal for consuming it. Don't let inconvenience stop your discovery of new music.
Earlier this week I was completing work for a client who required audio output as a WAV file with a 48kHz sample rate. As my audio editing program by default created the track at a sample rate of 44.1kHz (standard for CD audio), converting the sample rate once the music had already been created was a little tricky. If I knew the required sample rate when I began the project, I could have set up my recording software accordingly. However, changing the sample rate at the end of the recording process was a challenge.
Exporting my finished audio at the higher sample rate (converting it from 44.1kHz to 48kHz) naturally resulted in a shortening in the length of the track and an increase in pitch. A quick Google finds that this is a common problem. There are many ways to approach this challenge. The purpose of this post is to share what I found to be an incredibly easy solution. A simple conversion using NCH Software's Switch Audio Converter (yes, even using the free version!). I'm happy to say as well these guys are Australian!Switch is available for both Mac and Windows is is a very powerful audio tool. The feature list is large and includes the ability to convert between a pretty exhaustive range of common audio formats, extract audio from video files and DVDs, automatically normalize the audio when converting, and most importantly in my case - it supports a wide range of sample rates when encoding WAV format. So, my 41.kHz to 48kHz conversion was as simple as dragging and dropping the audio file into Switch, selecting WAV as the output format and changing the encoder setting to 48kHz. The outcome was perfect. Just wanted to share this quick tip for anyone else who's needed a quick resolution to this same challenge. Happy converting!