Thursday, September 27, 2012

How the iPad Changes Music Forever

Thanks to guest author and composer Pretty Good Pete for this article and the wonderful music!

    I’m not afraid to admit that I looked down upon the Apple iPad when it was released in April 2010. It was probably 9 months after release before I had my first experience with the device. After all, the iPhone and iPod Touch lines had been released several years before, and the iPad just seemed like a larger version of the Touch. As an early adopter of the Touch, I felt no need to “upgrade” from my first-generation Touch to a larger, heavier version. But one single, solitary app changed my opinion in an instant.

    March 2011 brought the release of Garageband for iPad. Several months later, when I finally acquired my first iPad, the first thing I did was download Garageband. After all, $4.99 wasn’t a whole lot of money at the time, so I wouldn’t lose much if the app was useless. It was going to be a toy, something fun to play with when I was bored, something to DO on a “useless” device.

    Instead, what I found was an extremely robust recording program with a wide-enough bank of sounds and effects that let my creativity run wild. After making the obligatory techno tracks using only the touch-screen instruments, I began to play with the guitar effects - you could plug a guitar into the headphone jack, allowing you to record and use Garageband’s built-in amplifiers and effects “pedals”. A cheap adapter allowed me to plug a “controller” keyboard into the dock connector, allowing me to play the synthesizer instruments without having to use the touchscreen (saving battery a bit in the process). I was completely hooked.

    Expanding my horizons, I found apps that allowed the iPad to control the sounds on a Mac laptop, instead of needing an actual physical keyboard. I have synthesizer apps that generate ridiculous sounds a la King Crimson or Pink Floyd. I found apps that allow the touchscreen to be used as an entire instrument, complete with all of the expressions and emotions of the best physical-instrument virtuosos.

    Jim Morrison once said, “I can envision one person with a lot of machines - tapes, electronic setups - singing and speaking, and using a lot of machines.” Who needs a lot of machines when you can have one single machine do anything you want? The future of music exists on a 10-inch screen.