There are very few tools that take credit for single handedly redefining the way that music is created. For me, the love affair with producing music has just been not just reborn but also liberated. From writing and producing, to performing music the iPad has carved a very special place in my tool kit.
(As the image shows) My special song writing place became a corner of the kitchen, which has combined my passion for creating food and sounds. I have recently purchased the iRig to hook up my trusty (And previously dusty) Les Paul; this purchase was then rapidly proceeded by iRig’s Microphone, a beautiful condenser microphone that is adjustable to become a live dynamic mic.
Two immediate benefits have arisen; my previously ‘barely used’ solid body guitar is getting some love, and having a condenser microphone (when I have the home to myself) is a quick and brilliant way to record acoustically. In both cases, the experience is simplified where the need for a large guitar amplifier in the home is diminished, and quick high quality recordings can be made of early stage ideas for songs using the condenser mic (Warning, feedback can be a problem and I would strongly suggest a good pair of audio headphones).
As the title suggests, there are three music functions that have immediately benefited from the iPad and it’s friendly peripherals, Songwriting, producing and performing as a musician.
For the Songwriter: In setting up the iPad for the first time, after loading multitrack software, I couldn’t help but record some previously written songs, that way, the creative process could take a back seat whilst I could figure out what this new setup could actually do. Without going through the specifics of each multitrack software that I’ve used (Sonoma Studio, Amplitube & Garageband), I’m going to focus on the experience of using the iPad. The ergonomics and simplicity of use with the touch based iPad, really compliments organic stage of writing, in other words, set up time and complexity is minimised, giving the writer more time to focus on the creative process.
For the Producer: As a preproduction tool, the iPad (accompanied with the right applications) can really help with what I call the sandbox stage of production. This is the part where it is quick and easy to playing tracks with a simple set of effects. The fact that it is so portable also means that taking the iPad as a portable ‘recording studio’ to various locations and artists gives that added flexibility. As a producer, you save a lot of time in figuring out what kinds of instruments and sounds you want to add to the production.
For the Musician: The guitar effects and the amp simulation sounds are simply amazing (On the Amplitude program). Sound wise, nothing will replace the entire effects set and genuine amplifiers; however, the sheer convenience of power in one small unit makes it pretty hard for the gigging guitarist to look further that the iPad. The Amplitude package also gives the guitarist some large pre-set buttons giving him/her the opportunity to save various combinations of effects.
The Cons: If I said that I was struggling to find some pitfalls, I wouldn’t be lying. However, there is one issue is not that straight forward, and if you are collaborating with another person, sharing files is a clumsy process for Amplitude and Garage Band. Sonoma’s studio has a nice interface where you can wirelessly download each track or a mix of the song. Another gripe is with Garage Band seemingly limiting 32 measures of recording at a time.