Post-Keyboard?

after the last few years of dipping my toes into the world of making electronic music i finally have had the time to give it my full attention.

the explosion and rampant experimentation of form factor in iphone and ipad music apps have made it possible to get hands-on with a wide range of digital “controllers”. my thesis and starting point for this journey begins with an observation and a question:

  • it’s interesting that in the electronic music revolution during the last 50 years, much of the music has been performed (at least melodically) based on a 17th C technology (the keyboard)
  • the question i pose and am attempting to solve is that if you don’t make electronic music with a keyboard, then how will you make it?



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3 Responses to “Post-Keyboard?”

  1. Roger Fletcher says:

    Some of us date back to pre-keyboard synths with voltage control knobs for oscillators and filters and patch bays (yes, real ones with physical cables to connect devices!) I probably did my most creative electronic stuff in that world. Once they all went keyboard, my electronic comps were influenced far too much by familiar fingering patterns and lack of real keyboard chops. I’d like to give some of these new gadgets a try and see if I can transcend equal temperament again. I look forward to seeing some recommendations regarding gear.

    • admin says:

      roger,

      in many ways i think that the digital synthesis revolution was deferred because it was so expensive and complicated to program. the keyboard synth entered as temporary solution to be basically “plug and play” but as you know the tradeoff was pretty steep.

      i have been having a lot of fun (and learning quite a bit) by experimenting with all the iphone and ipad apps out there. there are so many great ideas and variations and it makes me feel like we are in the early baroque when the key placement and construction of the early woodwind instruments varied so much around europe.

      i’m going to write more on this in another post later but here are a few apps that are worth trying out.

      1. scruti box (drone generator)

      2. thumbjam and slide control (kaossillator type controllers that are midi)
      pianist pro (very customizable and useful if a piano isn’t around, you can also plug in a small keyboard to run these sounds and makes a very portable solution with a small amp

      3. beatpad (mpc style 4×4 grid controller, playing it convinced me to buy the maschine i was playing in the video)

      4. polychord/soundprism: two very different and interesting approaches to playing harmonies

      5.pattern music: my favorite improv device and step sequencer

      these days most of the apps are also midi so you can sync them via wifi to your computer and run whatever sounds you want from your DAW.

      overall i really like that i can use my ipad and iphone wherever i want to write and improvise ideas. on top of that it is getting easier everyday to integrate them into performing, but in general i don’t think the performing on a touchscreen will ever be a big part of my live show.

  2. Roger Fletcher says:

    Thanks for the ideas. Unfortunately on oldPhone and noPad for the foreseeable future. :^)

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