Celebrate the Arts in you!

Gregorian Christmas Piece

This is my arrangement of a Gregorian chant I grew up with.

The theme is represented by the characteristically dark Cor Anglaise (English Horn) and later, bassoons in their high register.  A light texture of pizzicato strings gently supports the melody.  The clarinet briefly signals a motif that is used throughout the latter half of the piece in the French Horns.  It represents my belief that strength can be portrayed in a subtle, quiet way, empowering and reassuring.
In the second performance of the melody with the bassoons, there is an church organ pedal and violin harmonics which adds a spiritual and mysterious quality to the piece.

Performed in Logic Pro X with EastWest Symphonic Orchestra Platinum instruments.

I hope you enjoy!  Comments are always welcome.


Apple Pencil: a Mediator

Apple says:

When using iPad Pro, there may be moments when you want even greater precision. So we painstakingly designed Apple Pencil to expand on the versatility of Multi-Touch. And while the technology inside is unlike anything we’ve ever engineered, picking up Apple Pencil for the first time feels instantly familiar. It lets you make any number of effects, right down to a single pixel, giving you more creative freedom than ever before.



Over the past week, I’ve been using the Apple Pencil with a variety of apps to see how my finger vs. Pencil experience has been changed, after 7 years using an iPad.  (I’ve used two other stylus in the past 3 years).  The pencil acts as a mediator between my thoughts and the iPad.  Whether music notation, writing notes, drawing, or within games, Apple Pencil has transformed my intimacy and expressiveness with the art of creation, once again, as most of its technology has.

Recommendation: buy a case for your iPad Pro (9.7″) that includes a protective cradle for your Apple Pencil – check out Speck case: StyleFolio Pencil model.  You’ll never have to wonder where you put your Apple Pencil!

Apps test: (There are too many to show here.)

Music notation

Notion newest.png

Notion for iPad

Symphony Pro App - newest.jpeg

Symphony Pro

I’ve waited more than 30 years to be able to write music on a device with accuracy, ease, and in an environment that provides authentic music instruments, notation, and sharing.  Thank you, Apple, Notion and Symphony Pro! 


Penultimate on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.36.45 AM.png


MyScript Nebo – Note Taking for Apple Pencil on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.38.30 AM.png

 MyScript Nebo -converts written text to print



Tayasui Sketches

Drawing Desk.png

Drawing Desk


Pigment: Adult Coloring Book

Are you using the Apple Pencil?  Share your experiences!  What apps would you recommend?

Tech Play for July

I am playing with the following apps to exploit all educational value for students, and/or their usefulness and notch above the rest in creativity .  Please add your thoughts, if interested.

Memrise. learn languages free on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.44.46 AM.png

Memrise: learn languages free

Poto - Photo Collage Maker on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.47.28 AM.png

POTO – Photo Collage Maker

Gravity Sketch on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.51.19 AM.png

Gravity Sketch – 3D Drawing = 3D printing

Gunpowder on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.53.15 AM.png

Gunpowder – fun, logic game

Languinis. Word Puzzle Challenge on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.56.58 AM.png


“Elegantly pairing the match-three frenzy of Bejeweled with the word-making challenges of Scrabble”

Mozilla Firefox Firefox, Today at 9.00.15 AM.png

Visuwords – a site

TextGrabber - image to text app. copy recipe from a cookbook, scan QR code, capture text on photo and send to translator on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.03.02 AM.png

AABBYY TextGrabber + Translator

LOOPIMAL by YATATOY on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.13.02 AM.png

Loopimal – intro to music patterning

Please note that all of these apps were FREE at one point this year.  I always use the App, or  www.appadvice.com to get free apps to test.


The Erhu Debut

With Apple’s release of the Chinese Instruments and loops in the latest GarageBand update,  educating and promoting this beautifully expressive instrument definitely will follow.  Typically heard in soundtracks accompanying Chinese or Hollywood produced movies with a Chinese theme/location, people are probably curious about this traditional Chinese instrument.  It’s tone is unmistakably evocative of China mirror its glorious landscapes seen through online photo searches and famous Chinese painters.

Now, you can become digitally one with the instrument and its techniques through GarageBand.

Erhu Debut.png

This graphic was created using a FREE app presented on Apps Gone Free, called Cameraxis.

Cameraxis - Edit photos, Design graphics & add Creative typography, beautiful artworks over picture on the App Store Firefox, Today at 11.20.50 AM.png

Living in Hong Kong, it is somewhat common to see people playing an instrument near a street corner for extra income and exposure.  Its a treasured experience seeing a performance of a street musician on the Erhu, commonly playing traditional, Chinese melodies.

Have a look at Tim Cook’s “duet” with China’s famous J.J. Lin using GarageBand.  If you think it sounds good, it does!  Give it a try!

Apple has released an update that ‘celebrates the rich history of Chinese music’ (Apple).  Added to this update are three traditional Chinese instruments  – the pipa, erhu and Chinese percussion.  All a unique fusion to your music with 300 Apple-created Chinese musical loops, beyond beautiful.


Erhu – traditional Chinese violin


Pipa – traditional Chinese lute

These two instruments have different playing articulations, including rapid picking and note bend for pipa, and trill, grace note and glissando for erhu, making it incredibly easy for a novice to create a realistic and expressive performance. iPhone users can also use 3D Touch™ with the erhu and pipa to dynamically control vibrato and intensity, and both the pipa and erhu include Autoplay, letting users tap on any chord and get a complete, rich performance.



Chinese Kit available through Drums Instrument icon in the instruments section (page two) – Some of these have ‘secrets‘ to play automatically with two fingers, easily noted on the large drum.

Live Loops – Phenomenal collection of ‘live loops’ that allow you to build entire background music, or pieces of music based on the combinations of dynamic loops.  The FX feature allows you to individualize your performance.


The 300 Apple-created loops use a variety of instruments and styles including guzheng, dizi, yangqin, and Peking Opera.

Please note, you have to update your iOS device to acquire these incredible changes.  After this, switching on these features on your GarageBand app is required.



Toggle Chinese Instruments ‘on’


Select ‘Chinese Traditional’ under Apple loops Genre

Gather your newly updated device, headphones and head over to your favourite ‘Dim Sum’ restaurant and start creating your collection of exotic Chinese music with GarageBand iOS!

In the Director’s Chair

App Store App Store, Today at 11.32.19 AM.png

Apple’s line up of Mac Apps and its Pro AppsOfficial Apple Support Firefox, Today at 11.35.36 AM.png

Keep up-to-date with the apps that can help you achieve your artistic goals!  Many of these products have an accompanying iPhone or iPad versions that are useful for on-the-go use, and controlling your main Mac computer from the other device.

Go to the App Store from your Mac to something like this:

App Store App Store, Today at 11.37.16 AM.png

As mobile devices advance in capabilities, their technology affects the functionality of apps allowing for new features you may find useful.  For musicians, 3D touch has changed the expressiveness in how we use a keyboard.  Similar to sliding/gestures while playing a stringed instrument, cello, for example, the ability to meld your finger movement while moving between notes/keys is now at your finger tips.  New music apps are utilising this to add greater sensitivity and depth of sound, live in your recordings or performances.

From Apple,

When you press the display, capacitive sensors instantly measure microscopic changes in the distance between the cover glass and the backlight. iOS uses these measurements to provide fast, accurate, and continuous response to finger pressure, which could only happen with deep integration between software and hardware.

iPhone 6s - 3D Touch - Apple.png

A few years ago, a company called Roli created a dynamic keyboard that caught the eye of film composer Hans Zimmer.  That’s how I learned about it.  Since then, it has continued to evolve the keyboard’s expressive quality providing a more individual and personal sound and playing experience.

Mobility minded, Roli has produced an stunning app, NOISE  that simulates all of this on your 3D touch capable iPhone.



NOISE is an instrument that unlocks the extraordinary expressive potential of your iOS device as a touch-responsive surface for making music.
Create multidimensional sounds on-screen. NOISE takes advantage of the 3D Touch technology of the iPhone 6s, letting you shape sound through pressure and movement.
Or use NOISE as the ultimate portable sound engine for your favorite MIDI controller.

iTunes App description from Roli

If you have ever found yourself trying to add vibrato to your playing of a piano/keyboard (pushing harder on a key after the initial activation, or gyrating your finger hoping your sound is affected), you need to explore Roli products and its app, Noise.  Your expressive, performer-side of yourself is trying to tell you something!


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