I’m a big fan of mobile applications. It started with the Palm OS and Windows Mobile, and has continued with iOS and Android. Who knows where mobile apps will go to next, it’s a journey, and an interesting one at that. If you’re looking for more on mobile apps then also check out the menu sections for pages on specific apps and things I’ve done with them.
I have been looking for Apple Watch Muisc apps since I first got this device. However, to date I have failed to find anything that really ticks the box for me.
There are some though. I can’t say that there aren’t. Here’s what I have been using so far.
If you don’t know this app, Wotja is a generative music app for iOS, macOS and Android too. What’s more it works on Apple watch. Having said that, the Apple watch app is effectively a remote for the iOS app. Whilst that works fine, and what’s more is actually quite useful in many ways, I had really wanted something that actually made music on the Apple Watch.
Another app that works effectively as a data connection for the iOS app. Again, this is fine, and in fact very useful as the Apple watch app collects a lot of data that is then translated into usable information for making music. But it doesn’t make music on its own. Which is a bit of a shame.
And there is a Holon as well, which is good in of itself. Sort of like Holonist’s little sibling and it does actually make sound, but it connects to the iPhone version.
Of course, there is Shazam and I have used it on my Apple Watch. Whilst it is a music app in many people’s eyes, it doesn’t really fit that category for me. But it is handy to have.
So what am I actually looking for?
Well that’s the real question right. What am I looking for in an apple watch music app? That’s the question really. I think that ideally I’d like an app that allowed me to actually make music on my apple watch independently of anything else.
I can imagine that if Allihoopa had continued that their Figure app might have been a good candidate for just such a thing. The Figure interface could have scaled down to a watch app I think. That would have worked and could have been a good way to start something on a watch then move to an iPhone or iPad and then beyond.
So where does that leave me? I doubt very much that anyone is going to make such a thing, not for just me anyway.
It seems odd to me that my original blog would have turned 15 years old today. Odd and slightly sad that it is no longer an ongoing thing. Like all good things, it naturally came to an end. If that were not the case, it would have been a cause for celebration. But perhaps it still should be. There were a lot of high points from my long journey with PalmSounds. I made a lot of friends. I saw a lot of people get a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction from using mobile devices to make music, and I saw some truly amazing technology during those years.
To mark the occasion I thought I would remember some of those high points, and share a few of them with you. Like talking at Roli’s ‘modern music industry‘ event.
And meeting Roger Linn at another event at their offices. Which was an unexpected treat.
PalmSounds brought me to Heart n Soul too. Which was an amazing experience for me with many highlights. Again, I won’t list all of them, there are simply too many, but the events we did were truly incredible experiences.
And those were just some of the high points. There were so many more.
If this doesn’t mean anything to you then don’t worry. I have to admit it’s a very obscure niche. Sonifying the bio data from plants might seem odd, esoteric even, but to me it’s something really interesting.
I remember seeing MIDI Sprout on Kickstarter, but felt that the price point was prohibitive. However, I always felt that it was something that I wanted to try out. So I watched for one on eBay, and finally one came up at a reasonable price. So I bought it and it worked beautifully.
The little video is with a coffee plant. My plan is to try the MIDI Sprout with a range of different plants to see if there are noticeable differences in each plant’s musical output. As and when I do I’ll post the results. Probably with video too.
However, this isn’t the only kind of sonification project I have on the go, but more of that another time.
I’ve been playing with Endlesss for a little while now. A few weeks anyway. To begin with I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it. Now I’m beginning to realise that I’ve only just scratched the surface and that there is a huge amount more that I can do with it, and also that I can do with others, after all, it is collaborative.
The idea of Endlesss is really simple. You create what Endlesss calls ‘Jams’. Each jam is like a track, except it isn’t. It is much more than that. A jam consists of ‘riffs’ (or it may be ‘rifffs’, I’m not sure). Each of these is like a moment in time when you add something to the jam, and as you build these up, adding instruments etc, you get a journal of sorts showing how this track (I use that term simply for ease) has developed and changed.
Here’s what the journal looks like
In isolation that’s pretty interesting in itself. But the more impressive feature is that you can take any point in the journal and then take your jam in a different direction. For me this is probably the most interesting aspect of Endlesss.
As you can see there are a number of different iterations of this jam and they’re grouped by date. This makes taking ideas in different directions very easy.
This is a little journey back in time to before there were iPhones, and when PDAs were big. Ok, not big perhaps, but prevalent to a degree. Back then there were a few applications (we didn’t call them apps back then), that were for music, but, to be honest, they were few and far between. Also there was no standard architecture for things like plug ins on mobile. So it was an interesting time.
One of the most interesting and advanced was Griff. It was a Windows Mobile application, and it had a unique architecture, at least in terms of mobile applications. Griff was essentially a sequencer with a plug in architecture allowing it to be highly extensible.
There was also a reasonable number of these plug ins too. Mainly synths, but also samplers and drum machines. It was very cool in a world before iOS music making.
Whilst it’s not completely abandoned, the web site is still there. It isn’t what it quite was, but you can still find things, and you can still download things I think.
Whilst it’s understandable that Griff is no longer a going concern I still feel a little wistful about it. I remember first discovering it, although I was late to the party. It was a real revelation, and I actually bought a more powerful Windows Mobile PDA to be able to use it.
This is a good project for these times. Especially if you have an old Windows Mobile PDA hanging around. As I do!
I still think that this is a really innovative app for iOS (before it was called iOS of course), and I wish it had been kept up to date, but sadly that was not to be.
I was taking a look at it again on my old iPhone 3G, and decided to look it up. I found that whilst the app wasn’t maintained for iOS it is available as a Max patch, and also for Pd as well. Which is really cool.
I thought you might be interested. You can find both patches here.
I’ve now made it through the whole of January and made a single 1 minute track on every day. It’s been quite and interesting process, and, I’ve started to learn more about using Wotja, which was always my intention. I’ve lots more to learn though.
I’ve been playing with Roli Blocks again, and this time, I’m actually getting into it. I’m starting to find it quite useful and creatively inspiring. It is early days as yet, but I’m getting some results.
So I thought I’d share some very small videos of what I’ve been doing.
I’ve been meaning to mention this and just haven’t gotten around to it as yet, at least not here anyway. So, PalmSounds is kind of on hold as I’ve moved writing my mobile content to CDM now. I think it’s a good move. It means that mobile music content will hopefully get a much bigger audience, and as things move and converge I believe CDM will be a better place to see that through.