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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

App-etisers for May

I’m excited to share some apps that are new, or just discovered.  I will highlight which features are transformational in the way we (students, teachers, and everyone else) can aid in personal music or art education, whether at school, home, or on the go.

Touch Notation Free – iOS

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The fine app (Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd.) has the fastest ‘on the go’ notation entry I’ve ever used – I’ve tried many.  Regardless, finger or Apple Pencil, a few minutes of using, and an exquisite piano sample sound plays your music.  I’m still testing the free version with limitations – try this out!  Full version, with further in-app purchases is about $12 US.

Vanido – Your personal singing coach – FREE

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Vanido (Himanshu Singh) takes you through progressive, traditional, vocal exercises (chest voice, foundation, head voice, agility) with piano support.  Where this app flies is its visual of your voice as a sound wave-like line that signifies your accuracy to the target pitch.  For hesitant singers, this gives a much needed visual goal to strive for.  It has a basic, colourful display, game-like qualities, and must be used with earphones with built-in microphone.  See if this app supports your independent learning to become a better singer.

Art Break – FREE
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Art Break: Draw, Relax and Get Things Done (Tarasov Mobile) gives you a unique set of tools (brushes) that motivate an exploration of your love (or lack of) for drawing on a tablet (available at Google Play) with or without a stylus.  Students love the brushes that augment your line as you draw – ribbon, shaded, fur, web.  If you remember the popular Spirograph set years ago and the excitement that it caused, the next set of brushes bring a new level of amazement for users of all ages.  Mirror ribbon, symmetry ribbon, and symmetry fur are worth a look.  There are in-app purchases to upgrade to Premium version and remove Art Break watermark from your drawings and the addition of more brushes for Premium users in next updates.

This photo is from a student’s first use of the app over 10 minutes.

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Music Making – Spring 2017

Here’s a glimpse at what software/apps I use frequently to explore and create music (notation-type apps).

There are many companies offering incredible music-making apps for mobile devices that make music creation easier and inexpensive (most free).  I have been a user of Finale for Mac for over 25 years.  With the advent of tablet technology over the past 8 years, my allegiance has changed supporting companies that are re-inventing music creation, and in a mobile manner.

Finale is my absolute preference for large score, orchestral works, however, they have produced nothing for composing ‘on the go’ via a mobile device.  Their $600 US hefty entry fee for their flagship software stops me from recommending it to few.  It will become a relic of the past.  They have student prices and other entry level software packages with less features, however mobile apps offer an impressive alternative, especially with the aid of a stylus, sampling and creating sounds, and work almost anywhere capabilities.

Notion offers the most beautiful, sampled instrument sounds (London Symphony Orchestra) on all their versions, desktop and mobile devices.  Working ‘on the go’ is extremely important to capture ideas while sitting on the bus or subway, then continuing at home or work via cloud technology.  Notion allows this from finger-gestures, Apple Pencil, music keyboard, and mouse input.  Thumbs up, Notion (PreSonus)!

[Personal note: each orchestral instrument has various techniques as sampled sounds included, for example, French Horn includes hand-stopped or muted notes and glissandi.  This is one of the many reasons I use Notion for its ease of use to add these effects or articulations.  Check out my brass piece, ‘I Saw Three Ships’ on SoundCloud that demonstrates this.]

On the bus or subway – iPhone or iPad

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Notion for iPhone/iPad

Symphony Pro 4

Symphony Pro 4 $9.99 US

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Symphony Pro 5 Beta

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Symphony Pro

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GarageBand for iOS

GarageBand for iOS is an absolute favourite, now updated with more performance capabilities.  I will celebrate the day when they add notation capabilities.

Personal note: This app awaits its entry into schools to help visualize music for so many disinterested students having to endure a skill or knowledge-based curriculum, rather than a holistic, creation-based one.  Share your thoughts on this, please.

Evaluating:

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Stave’n’Tabs for iOS

In this example, Stave’n’Tabs handles triplets fairly well compared with other music notation apps.  I’ll keep my eye on this app over the next year.

Teaching or at home: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, MacBook, iMac

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ScoreCloud Studio Mac or PC -Free with upgrades

ScoreCloud is known for its ease of input by a variety of means, especially great for school use with students inputting their music by keyboard, voice, or recorder!

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Finale for Mac                                      $600 US

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Notion 6 for Mac     $154 US

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I Saw Three Ships

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This is a brass quintet arrangement of the English carol, ‘I saw three ships come sailing in’ done exclusively on Notion for iPhone (mostly on a daily bus ride to work!). Sometimes, saved to iCloud, I opened it on my iPad or Notion for Mac to have more screen space. This piece highlights the sampled sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra and others, brass specifically tested and highlighted here.

I relished using the different brass techniques throughout including straight mutes, glissandi, horn hand stopping, and flutter tonguing in the high trumpet in the second last bar.

At different stages of this piece, I input some notes using my Apple pencil on the iPad. Mobile technology is here to stay and I plan to use it as much as possible to create music truly ‘on the go’, or on the bus! Thank you, Notion for allowing this quality of sampled sounds to be available at a reasonable price!

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.

True.

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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

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Notion for iPad

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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! 

Writing:

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Penultimate

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 MyScript Nebo -converts written text to print

Drawing:

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Tayasui Sketches

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Drawing Desk

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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.

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Memrise: learn languages free

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

POTO – Photo Collage Maker

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Gravity Sketch – 3D Drawing = 3D printing

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Gunpowder – fun, logic game

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Languinis

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

你好 (Hello) GarageBand iOS Update

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.

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Erhu – traditional Chinese violin

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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.

Apple

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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.

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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.

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Toggle Chinese Instruments ‘on’

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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!

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