The Basics: A General Overview

Palm Sounds is all about handheld music. But, for people who know nothing about the subject it may be quite confusing to work out where to start with software and hardware and make decision about what to buy and where from.

So, that's why I decided to write this series on the basics of handheld music.

PDA's have had the ability to make music since the late 90's, and have been progressing ever since. At the time of writing the sorts of things you can achieve musically with a PDA spans a wide range, including:

- Notation
- Sampling
- Synthesis
- Sequencing
- Drum Programming
- Multi-tracking

and I'm aiming to cover those subjects in this series.

So, why make music using a PDA? Well, in many ways you could say that about any form of technology, but PDAs give you the ability to jot down ideas and make music wherever you are, without having to take bulky equipment with you everywhere.

Many of the music applications commonly found on desktop and laptop computers now have relatives in the handheld world, and slowly the range and diversity of applications is increasing.

However, it is a niche area to say the least, so don't expect the big software names to be playing ball any time soon. At the moment, most development is done by individuals who are keen to explore the field, or small software houses. At best products last a few years and see some development, at worst, companies go to the wall altogether, like Tao Group who took their miniMIXA application with them.

Anyway, hopefully this won't have put you off too much. It is a lot of fun to be able to make music wherever your ideas arrive, on the train, the beach, or even in the toilet.

I hope that the rest of this series will be useful to you. To start with it is worth having a little bit of a history lesson:

1997: We had apps like 4 Octave Piano, and PocketSynth, both good apps for making beeps.
1998: Pocket Piano, simple sequencer and lots of fun.
1999: MiniMusic get’s going with MiniPiano and MiniGrid, eventual precursors to NotePad 1.4. We also get Theremini.
2000: BeatPad sequencer released by Minimusic.
2001: MelodyPad allows a conduit based MIDI export. ittyMIDI player comes out allowing playback of MIDI files. MiniMIDI appears allowing a palm to control external MIDI devices.
2002: RhythmPro drum machine appears.
2003: PocketDJ flash based music app for Clie PDAs. MusicStudio polyphonic app, again working well with Clies with built in MIDI chips and external MIDI modules. Wave Edit Pro (not strictly a music app, but excellent for sound editing). MusicPal, more sequencing and MIDI. TuneSketcher, simple sequencing / editing. Microbe released, synths and a drum machine all in one application, and then, Bhajis Loops begins giving sequencing, sampling, sound editing and synthesis and eventually export to .wav files!
2004: Palm Drum Kit Studio, nice drum app but no recording.
2005: SoundPad FM Synth app, a major leap forward for Palm Music creating a suite of applications that will all work together (SoundPad, NotePad, and BeatPad). Virtual Piano launches.
2006: ? Not much really this year, at least not in the way of new applications.
2007: Well, just read this blog.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Needs an update I think

Anonymous said...

This would be better as part of a wiki