I’ve had an Orba 1 for a while now, and when the Orba 2 was announced it looked like just the update I wanted. The form factor of the the devices are identical, which is good as the accessories all fit both devices. The original Orba was fun to play with but lacked the ability to use samples, amongst other things. It was still fun, but kind of like a musical fidget toy rather than something that I could finish a piece of music with, (not that I have finished anything in a very long time).
The Orba 2 is a different story. Size wise it is exactly the same as the Orba 1.
In fact they are almost indistinguishable. However, from a functionality perspective they are very different indeed and the Orba 2 is a big step up, as is the app that is used with it.
Thus far I’ve done little more than play around with it and tried out the sound packs that come with the app. I haven’t quite got the hang of getting my own recorded samples into it so far. But I probably will in the new year, or at least that is what I intend to do.
I’m not sure if there is any real benefit to having two of these. You can’t really play them together and I don’t think that there is anything in the technology that brings them together. Perhaps that will come later.
Anyway, for now this is a nice toy, and an improvement on the original. As I get more familiar with it I will post a bit more about my experience with it and maybe even make something to listen to.
Back in 2015 I wrote about this device on Kickstarter. It looked like a cool idea and I backed it. Seven years later I have received nothing, and, what’s more, heard nothing for quite some time about it. Then, the other day, quite out of the blue, I got an update from Kickstarter. It appears that it is still progressing. Although the timeline is months away, apparently due to the global chip shortage.
Whilst I could take that as a good sign, I still have my doubts about this ever arriving in my hands. I had pretty much given up on it.
Of course this is always the danger of Kickstarter. There have been a number of things that I have backed that never came about. The most annoying of which was the Blocks Smart watch. That one in particular was annoying as they appeared to have spent a good deal of the money on enjoying themselves rather than creating a product. I got nothing back. It still hurts.
These days I am much more careful about what I back on Kickstarter, and I back a lot fewer projects. It would be nice if this one did come about, but in many ways I have resigned myself to never seeing.
I read this on CDM the other day and it made me think about when Bhajis Loops came to an end. If you were unaware, Bhajis Loops was an application for the PalmOS that was the nearest thing to a DAW for Palm devices. It lasted for some years, but, like all things, it came to an end. It’s creator went on to start Mutable Instruments, which has been infinitely more successful.
But the closing of Mutable made me wonder what, if anything, might be next. Of course the simplest answer is nothing at all, and that is entirely possible. In fact I’m not suggesting that anything will follow. However, if it does then I think it will be entirely unexpected.
It’s not much, but it is kind of interesting that it can do this. I keep thinking that maybe I’ll try and write some code to run on it, but if I’m honest I’m unlikely to get around to that for a while.
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.
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.