SmiteMatter Music Posts

These are nposts that are not apps reviews. Topics of these posts are centered on my music, process, and general creative journey.

Chapters Album

The following is taken largely but not entirely from the One Sheet by Apptronica

SmiteMatter – Chapters
Release Date: 24 Feb 2014
Lable – Apptronica

SmiteMatter – Chapters

Chapters is a collection of songs inspired by the artist’s most vivid memories throughout his life, marked also by a specific person he has known – an “audio-biography” or concept album of sorts.

“I took this concept and put my deepest most intense memories of places and individuals who, for better or worse (or both), had great impact on shaping who I am today. I translated each as music that best represents the feelings I have for the person, place, and time. My greatest joys, hardships, loves, treasures, and nightmares are all equally cherished; all of the emotion transformed into sound.”

Chapters is the second album by Apptronica artist SmiteMatter, produced entirely using iOS apps and devices.

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About SmiteMatter

David Israel, known to most as SmiteMatter, started in 2009 with just an iPod Touch and some early music apps and was instantly hooked. For SmiteMatter, the concept of being totally free to autonomously create music anywhere with no need for anything else was extremely habit forming. A purist from the very beginning, SmiteMatter now makes his music on a couple of iPads.

Chapters Album Track List
1. Lie of the Cook
2. Canyon de Chelly
3. Cecelia Ran Away
4. Once Had The Will
5. Chapters
6. Colors of Choices
7. Orbiting the Son
8. The Park of Things
9. No Longer Normal
10.Phantomhive
11.And Then It Was

Special thanks and acknowledgments:

My wife Christina, with love, for tolerating me with my nose in my iPad every day and night, and having to hear everything over and over and over and over.
My son Jacob who is my greatest collaborative effort.
My daughter Grace. Still my little girl. I’m sorry I didn’t do better.

Clif Johnston for believing in me, and being a good friend.
Bruce Gall, who has been so incredibly supportive with so many spins on his shows ARFM SundaySynth and Atmospheres.
Christian Augustin who on more than one occasion generously pulled me out of the fire.
Neal Murrell AKA Ithaca Benesh. Our short lived friendship meant so much to me, & I miss you. I’m sorry this is so late. I hope you’re listening wherever you are R.I.P.
Marius C Hammerich AKA Kikai Kikagu for the great help getting the polish done. You taught me valuable lessons.

The iOS Music Community and Artists. So many incredible, talented, and hilarious people who have in their infinite kindness supported me and inspired me in countless ways no matter how tough things got. All proving what can be done, where ever they are.

iOS Music Bloggers for supporting my efforts with links, and numerous supportive gestures.

iOS Music App Developers for all the codes, early looks, and for your clever innovation and designs inspiring a growing collection of creatives to shine.

Say no to wires.

Chapters Album Is Available at:
Apptronica
BandCamp
iTunes

A follow up post is being drafted with track descriptions and some detail of how they were made.

PR Contact

Clif Johnston Phone: +1 270-970-4766 Email: clif@apptronica.us

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What Am I Doing?

I thought I should write this note to explain why I haven’t posted many reviews lately. Like I’ve said before I am artist first, blogger second. Not to suggest I am disinterested with writing new reviews. No sir, and I have plenty queued up on my back burner.

I am hyper focused on getting everything completed, polished and ready for my new album “Chapters” to release in a matter of days.
It’s a lot of work. Thankfully I have some help to move things along.

The progress status as of this moment is fluid. The music is completed, and the double check mastering is in motion, but about to be wrapped up. Cover art is under way, and now it’s just a matter of making some decisions.

“Chapters” has been a long project mired with obstacles and disasters along the way causing several delays. I won’t bore you with the details, but a major data loss last year had a lot to do with the delays. Among other things.
It wasn’t all trials and tribulations of course. The joy of creating music was above all the most rewarding way to spend the time.

So what is “Chapters”? This will be my audio-biography of sorts. I started with this concept by writing about my most memorable moments in my life so far. I thought I should express myself by also sharing a bit of my biggest and most personal memories.
Each song is about specific memories that includes a individual I’ve known who had largely impacted who I am. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, and anything in between.
I took the inspiration of each chapter and translated it best I could into music.
When the album is released I will post a more detailed explanation with the specifics relating to each track.
You can expect a variety of sounds and emotion from one to the next. However like life, the flow of the tracks will be in chronological order.
I’ve given this a lot of thought and it may be risky, but I feel it’s the most sincere and honest way for the album to flow. Or not flow.
Some tracks might have a strange change, or abruptness to it. There may even be parts that could sound like error. Whatever the assumption they are intentional.

I took some chances and tried new things, but more or less I stuck to my ambient roots. Anyway, you’ll hear soon enough. I hope. Like I said, more details will come on launch day.

So that about wraps up what I’ve been focussed on with a little insight.
I will return to reviewing music apps very soon. I have no shortage of stuff to write up.

Thanks for reading. Back soon.

Best Music Apps Of 2013

Each year innovation is pushed to new heights for new iOS music apps. Some years and some apps more than others.
2013 has been a strange year to me, in many ways personally, but also in regards to what I’ve seen in music app development.
Not bad or anything, but it felt incomplete to me. Maybe?
It seemed like this year had been a little weak. Maybe not?
Could be simply that some things just didn’t get finished in time? Well, I am familiar with that having delayed my own work a few times to the point where my album “Chapters” can’t be released until a few weeks into 2014. I get it, stuff happens.

The thing I think was most glaringly missing in the iOS music app world was not one new, innovative iDAW. I sincerely expected to see something new this past year. Nope. Well, yes there were a couple new iDAWs released but sadly none were even close to being half as good as what already exists. Nothing that was breaking any new ground, or offering any new options. Total lack of innovation in this category for 2013.

There is no shortage of excellent iDAWs to choose from, just nothing new worth celebrating.

We did see some huge changes in how we can make music. Inter-App Audio arrived with iOS 7 (and a few bugs) and took the way we record and connect our music apps to a new level. Much remains to be seen, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction. At least we can now record at industry standards with IAA supporting 32 bit floating point, depth. This won’t matter much to a lot of people, and for many reasons. It does matter to me, but the reasons for that go way off topic. Let’s just leave it at that. Cool?

So it hasn’t been a silent year, or a disappointing year. Just a bit odd.
Nevertheless, several innovative, excellent, and exciting new music apps did arrive in 2013.
That all said, the following is my take on the best new music apps released in 2013.

iDAW
I think I covered this topic, there were none to speak of.

Best Drums

“STIX Electronic Drum Synthesizer” by, Alexander Smith.
This category is always thin compared to the rest. For me this was the most interesting and innovative.

Best Sequencer

>”Electrify NXT by Ingolf Koch

This fell into my hands a bit late. The original Electrify was an app I bought a long time ago (relatively speaking) but never bonded to. Electrify NXT is a whole new thing. Despite some reports of continued stability issues, I still choose Electrify NXT as best in the category. This app has a lot of good things going for it. Sequencing, sampling, looping, and a built in FM synthesizer. Loaded with effects, factory loops, and everything you need to mangle it all up. Electrify NXT is loaded with features and functionality. Compared to the other candidates in the “Sequencing” category, Electrify NXT is most useable as is. Not to mention it’s far more intuitive and easily understood.

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Best Audio Tools

Audio Mastering App by, iMusic Album

Auria may have the best mastering plugins and automation to make the job very detailed, but you’d have to spend an arm and leg to get them. This app has an excellent set of tools to master your final mix, including multi frequency stereo imaging. This is a budget mastering option, but it doesn’t sound like it. I find myself using it most of the time. It just needs automation.

Best Sound Effects

“Swoopster” by Holderness Media

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Here we have a fun and trippy flanger/fuzz effects stand alone app. Independent channels, or linked, fuzzy, or flanged, or throw it all on the mix, Swoopster delivers.

Best Synthesizer
It’s a tie! “Nave” by Waldorf Music and “CubeSynth” by VirSyn

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It’s been a great year for iOS Synthesizers. Choosing a single “best” synth was giving me indigestion. So I choose the two I find myself going to constantly and could not live without.
“Nave”
A super strong entry in the growing wave table synthesis category, developed by Waldorf and Tempo Rubato. Create, and tweak your own wave tables from recordings and even a nifty text to talk feature. Hefty routing options and extremely versatile make Nave one massive synth.

AND

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“CubeSynth”
VirSyn took additive synthesis and sound morphing to a new level. Extremely detailed parameter controls, tons of powerful sound designing tools, and oodles of interesting and endless combinations make the Cube one of the greatest iOS synths ever. Very underrated I think because so much of its power is not made obvious, but it’s all in there.

Most Needed App

“AudioReverb” by VirSyn
Why is a reverb app most needed? Well, it is my opinion that reverb has been a weakness in iOS music for too long. Sure Auria has a few excellent choices, even a fantastic Convolution Reverb, but what about non Auria users? Nothing? 2013 was the first year we had a few excellent reverb stand alone apps show up. VirSyn delivered the most impressive sounding of the bunch. It uses a remarkable algorithmic reverb with the high quality impulse response (real reverberations) recordings to combine for a very natural sounding effect. It doesn’t sound like an effect laying on top of something artificially. It sounds like a natural part of the music. That is something iOS music has been missing for a long time. No more suffering with “FreeVerb” or other cheap algorithmic knock offs. A quality option is here.

Instrument Emulation

“Galileo” by Yonac Inc
I may not be the biggest fan of organs, or even really have a complete understanding of them but I know when something just sounds great. Yonac Inc crafted this organ for iOS to have a sound that is emulated perfectly. They took an old time instrument and added modern extras, FX, and tools to make this the most impressive organ emulation I’ve ever heard. Some friends of mine who are organ aficionados schooled me on the topic, and insisted I not leave this one out. I wouldn’t have, but thanks anyway guys.

iOS Music App Of 2013

AudioMastering App, by iMusic Album

WHAT? Really? Yes! You can have some of the most amazing synths, drum machines or whatever’s, but if you intend to complete, polish, and make your production sound it’s best, you must have a way to master it all. Speaking as an iOS music production purest, it is my opinion and perspective that without a quality set of tools to master all that music from all those amazing apps, you’re just playing around. Not counting those who master on their computers. That doesn’t count.
The Audio Mastering App has a 10 band EQ, Harmonic Saturator, 3 band Stereo Imaging, and a Loudness Maximizer with adjustable ceiling. Up to 24 bit processing, dithering, multiple file conversion options and more. This is an affordable, and quality tool.
It just needs automation so adjustments can be made in real time.

Honorable Mention

WOW Filterbox by SurgarBytes

AUFX:Dub by Kymatica

Thor Polysonic Synthesizer by Propellerhead Software

iSEM by Arturia

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That wraps it up. I’m sure not everyone will agree with my “Best Of 2013” choices, and that’s OK. I considered many factors that are most important to me and that I think relate best to the iOS music production purest.

As always, I am looking forward to the things to come in 2014! My biggest hope is to see a big time iDAW that does a good job of delivering the most complete, under (but not limited to) one roof production environment.

LATE ADDITION

Best Potential

“Stroke Machine” by Wolfram Franke

This colorful new sequencer arrived in the nick of time. There weren’t a lot of new or innovative sequencers in 2013. It’s a surprisingly capable new sequencer. It looks like a toy, but it’s not. This is a very effective sequencer with bright future. There were some early hiccups, bugs and whatnot. Mr. Franke did a great job cleaning things up and released an update with loads of fixes and improvements. That’s encouraging. However, not enough yet as it is still lacking certain things, and suffering from some anti-intuitive procedures. Additionally as I dig in further this app is frustrating me to no end. Notably there are problems with sound selection, samples, and pattern or kit changing.
Look out for my review where I’ll go into detail on the good, bad, and frustrating in the Janurary issue of “Apptronica”.

NOTE: I had spent a lot of time with Stroke Machine prior to writing this and chose it for the “Best Sequencer”, but I was wrong on some crucial points I overlooked. Now that I’m really digging into this app as I write my review for Apptronica, I’m finding that there were big problems with this app , I had completely missed. Completely!
A reader brought to my attention some serious flaws. Initially I dismissed his complaints and thought everything was fine. Nope. I was wrong. So Mark, wherever you are, sorry about that. I also thank you for not just letting it go.

Stroke Machine is still something special and potentially huge. It just isn’t there today, or yesterday as I had originally thought. So I must do the right things. 1- Apologize to everyone for my error. 2- Give credit to Mark (see comments) for hitting me upside the head and waking me up. 3- Correctly apply a functionally superior app in the category of Best Sequencer where it truly belongs. As imperfect as it is. 4-Did I mention I’m sorry about my mistake?

Getting the word out.

Recently I was approached on Facebook by Criztoz Crizto who writes for a website called Something You Said. He wanted to interview some people who were very into iOS music production to get some insights for an article he was writing. I’m all about iOS Music and being dedicated solely to the platform for crafting all of my music. So of course I accepted. So did fellow bloggers Ryan Hemeon iOSMars, Tim Webb Discchord and Jeremy MaGill of the iPadMusician Facebook group. Nothing really shocking or unexpected came of our answers, at least not to most folks already informed on the topic. However there are some interesting comments from each unique point of view.
Certainly a worthwhile read and if you know anyone interested or on the fence with iOS Music production, please share the article.

Read the full interview HERE

Enjoy. I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be so dang shy, go ahead and leave a comment.

Update to iOS 7 now?

That’s the big question. As iOS 7 launches with Inter-App Audio in its list of new features, many people making music with their iPad are eager to try out the new feature. Does it work? Is it ready? There appears to be quite a mixed bag of answers. Should I update now?
Several developers commented around the web regarding whether or not you should update and generally are saying; “No, not yet!” A lot of music apps haven’t updated yet.

I don’t have all the answers myself, but my first couple hours with iOS 7 installed on my iPad 4
(still using iOS 6 on my iPad 3 until the dust settles) have been underwhelming to say the least. I guess I assumed incorrectly what is compatible and what isn’t?
The first thing I tried was to launch production versions of Auria and Nave to see if I could start streaming audio to record. Nope. Didn’t work. Then I tried another synth (Sorry I can’t name it. Its a beta, and I am under NDA) and it didn’t work either. Each I had assumed were compatible with iOS 7 IAA. Perhaps just basically compatible but maybe just not yet IAA compatible?
I also tried Addictive Synth (which by the way does work with Auria through Audiobus now) to Auria with no success. I shouldn’t be surprised having not seen an update for a while for Addictive.
OK? Now what? That’s a bit discouraging. I thought the flurry of updates I’ve been getting recently that mention iOS 7 meant also IAA was part of it. Not so.
I continued testing anyway to try and dig through my confusion and figure out what I am missing.
Next I tested Cubasis with the same 3 synths, and only the beta one worked. Well, sort of. Cubasis recorded MIDI from the beta synth, but couldn’t capture plain old audio. Huh?
Nave however is IAA compatible and works with other compatible apps. Just nothing I’ve tried so far.
The problem is less with the apps, and just that a lot was expected at launch. Oops. Testing out my apps confirmed I’m clearly guilty of that myself.
However, the MIDI it did record was clean and sounded fine. However repeating this test resulted in the connection simply failing during the recording, missing most of my input. Hey! I didn’t touch stop! Oh brother, it doesn’t seem like IAA is ready as I had thought. Doh!

Its too early to be sure of anything, but having tried this out a little bit using my primary music apps without success I clearly have confused iOS 7 compatibility updates to mean IAA compatibility, when it doesn’t. I may have set my expectations too high, too early. A bit of a cautionary tale. Lesson learned.
I still want to know what’s going on.
I’ve searched Apples website for instructions or some kind of helpful information about IAA, and found nothing useful. If you can find anything, I’d really appreciate you sharing the link in a comment. What is compatible? What isn’t? Is there a list anywhere? OH THERE IS A LIST!
Thank you Rolf at Tempo Rubato for this link to IAA compatibles

I think the best advice for now is if you are dependent on a single iOS device to make your music, don’t update to iOS 7 just yet. With more questions than there are answers, its probably a good idea to just hang on to iOS 6 until everything settles. Just in case.
If you have a second device, than you might be alright doing as I have by I installing iOS 7 on only one of them. At least then you can see and try it all for yourself, and not be tied down by the early bugs and incompatibilities. Updates will surely come.

Outside of music production iOS 7 is pretty cool. I think. The icons, App Store, and general interface is a nice new visual treat. I love the way shutting down background apps is handled now. Double click home, and everything that’s “on” is visible showing the last screen that was used. Swipe left and right to view the apps currently running in the background. Shut it “off” by flicking the app image upwards. Cool.
It may take a few minutes getting used to the big appearance changes. Icons look very different in many cases. The parallax background is nifty. Its like the eyes are following you.
Menus are different too and some with new options.
Well, anyway this is more about the music making aspect, not a overall review. I’m just saying, the look is generally pleasing.

Its all exciting and heading in the right direction with IAA, but where’s the roadmap? Is anyone else confused?
Lots to be curious about, making the urge to click “Update” hard to resist. Its up to you.
Nothing to be all puffed up and worried about, but use caution. Little is ready yet, and according to the Audiobus guys there are “Bugs”.
Do you want to be lab rat?

As the hours blend into days and go on, I am learning that while iOS 7 launched, has Inter-App Audio capability in the OS, very few music apps have updated with compatibility. I guess not everyone knew it was coming? Nave, & Magellan, being some of the exceptions to offer compatibility with IAA at launch. No major DAWs to host them though. I did (now realized in error) expect the major DAWs to be ready to host. None that are relevant to me are currently able to do so. Not yet. IAA is just not here yet in any meaningful or useful way, as many had expected. Or maybe it was just me. Whatever.

I get that only a little time has past since iOS 7 launched, but that’s not what bothers me. A day to us end users, but months for developers and Apple. It’s the months before end users could see the picture that Apple and developers could, which fails to land a logical blow on me. I mean what were they doing? Why didn’t they have more ready? Those where some of the questions which left me perplexed.
Well, turns out that there were big bugs (now information that devs can discuss with their NDAs lifted) in their way right up until the last couple weeks. Some that are still unresolved. With those bugs still in iOS 7 at launch, it does seem more logical now why barely any music apps are IAA ready.
In that case, considering the circumstances, I just don’t see the update being a great idea right now. Not if you were expecting to use IAA right off the bat with everything.

PS- iOS7 is drastically reducing my battery time. With my normal daily workload and activity prior to updating, I was getting 5-6 hours use. After updating the same workload and activity nets me about 3.5 – 5. Hours.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and or experiences with the new iOS 7 Inter-App Audio in a comment here. Advice, concerns, information and whatever is all welcome.