Celebrate the Arts in you!

In search for the perfect iPad app that allows me to compose, arrange, notate, and collaborate ‘on the go’ has led me to this post.  I’ve had the enjoyment and honour of using full versions of Symphony Pro and Music Studio provided to me by the companies with my thanks.

Theme: simple orchestral 4 bar theme – repeated – with contrasting sounds, colours, and range (flute to double bass and bass clarinet, with light percussion).  See sample, and click to make larger.



Symphony Pro – outstanding notation app with input by virtual keyboard and guitar, and includes numerous important ways to move your work from the iPad to other devices (MusicXML, Color PDF, AAC, MIDI, Symphony, Email, iTunes, Send to, Photos, AirPrint and SoundCloud)

Music Studio 2 – phenomenal DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) type app with input by large, resizable keyboard, incredibly realistic sound collections, notably for me, orchestral, and excellent editing ability – graphic music notation, similar to GarageBand, Logic Pro X, and most DAW software.  This app does not support music notation and score preparation like Symphony Pro.  This is a well-rounded collection of tools closest to a full DAW package at an unbelievable low price.  Exporting features include MIDI, WAVE, AAC, ZIP, Email, AudioCopy, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Open with…, and the ability to connect to your browser (Server).

GarageBand for iOS 8 – ease of use with a generous workspace, logical layouts, and predictable finger gestures, GarageBand for iOS continues to be in the top 3 apps for iPad.  Its audio recording ability and sound sampler allows for endless uses and promotes the individuality of the user.  Smart Instruments are equally its strong feature, coupled with the numerous loops, and importing of sound files from iTunes.  For me, the addition of ready and realistic orchestral instruments, similar to Music Studio would make it even more versatile by composers that write in this genre.  GarageBand for iOS is not a music notation/score preparation app, and uses graphic DAW-type notation, easily modifiable and utilized.  Exporting includes MP3, AIFF, CAF, Apple Loops, and AAC, Email, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes, Ringtone, Open in…, iCloud sync.

GarageBand iOS works with Audiobus (separate app) and its built in function, Inter-App Audio Apps to bring in the best of hundreds of other sound sources and functions.

See Audiobus site for a list of iOS8-compatible Audiobus Apps.

See here for one of my earlier posts comparing the various notation apps for iPad with a free chart highlighting the differences.

Apple Event Summary

Here’s a brief summation of what was mentioned at the Apple Event 

October 16, 2014.

All you need to know about Apple's new iPads, iMac - CNET at 11.51.59 am

Trees for Life

This short introduction of music was inspired by the app, Trees of Life HD for iPad by Kevin Bertman.  Currently, there is no music opening this app.  This is my musical reflection of trees, forests, and the interconnectedness of nature.  Currently, this creative and clever app is free from the Apple App Store on iTunes.

Trees of Life HD on the App Store on iTunes at 9.09.19 pm Trees of Life

Apps for the Mobile Artist

How often do you use your mobile device for note-taking or photo-taking?  There is a plethora of free or moderately priced apps that are excellent for making “notes”  in the form of written text, musical notation and sound, and graphical form with colours, brushes, and integration with photos.

The important issue is for this practice to be done in a mobile context, quickly, and easily curated (saved or shared) for later use.  Imagine the artist or composer taking a sketch book or lined music paper to record their moments of inspiration.

Here is a graphic I created that shows a variety of the best apps for this purpose.  This graphic may look quite different next year with the constant evolution of device and app capabilities.  Find whatever works well for you, and set it up to integrate into your ‘syncing’ system (computer and/or tablet).  The goal is to have these ideas for further development in your private work space.

Apps for the Mobile Artist FINALExample:  I sing a melody into SoundCloud Express, which converts it into musical notation, and uploads it to the company’s cloud storage.  It syncs with my device, and can be open on its companion app, ScoreCloud on my MacBook Pro for modification, printing, and sharing/export as MIDI or MusicXML to work with other music apps.

Let’s get mobile and curate your artistic, creative moments anywhere you find inspiration.  Please let me know your favourite place for inspiring ideas.

Hairy Crab Season in HK

It’s at this time of the year when Hong Kong gets huge shipments of hairy crabs.  These crustaceans typically come from farms in Jiangsu Province’s Yangcheng Lake in China.  Freshwater hairy crabs are well known for their rich, golden, creamy roe and zesty, white meat and are the most sought-after because they are only available in autumn.

Here is a short Hyperlapse video taken on my walk in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong today.

Harmonious BS Shaw at 8.27.36 pm

The Harmonious Blacksmith Variations No. 2

The theme is from the final movement, Air and variations, of George Frideric Handel’s Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, for harpsichord. The first variation (more to come) is written for 2 pianos.

This second variation takes the first 4 notes of the ‘B’ theme, followed a transposed phrase from the same theme. With a fanfare opening, it progresses to a Brazilian samba mini-variation later on, recapitulating the opening fanfare, and a whole-tone inspired ending.  See below for a snippet of the score showing the musical motifs used.

Harmonious Blacksmith Variation #2.mus at 9.02.12 pm


Hong Kongers are quickly commenting on the increased traffic and activity around the Apple Store since the release of the iPhone 6 late last week.  People are either lined up in queue in/outside of the Apple Store, or meandering around the increasing numbers of “private” sellers of iPhones 6 in front of the store.  Prices on the past weekend for an iPhone 6 (not plus) was typically 7800 – 8000 HKD, compared with 5588 HKD for the basic model in the store.  In case you are having trouble reserving one online, this may be part of the problem.

According to Apple employees, the fixed number of iPhones go online at 8:00 am. and are sold out within minutes.

Have a look at this video of my walk about the Apple Store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong today.  This is a happening place!


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