Interview with miniMusic


MiniMusic is one of the longest standing palm developers for mobile music application. In this interview we ask about what miniMusic has planned for 2008, new platforms, and their existing applications.

PS: Where would you like to see your applications going in 2008 and beyond?
MM: The Palm market is a bit uncertain right now. The Treo is still doing well and the Centro seems to be getting a lot of attention, but I don't think miniMusic can continue as a one platform developer. I hope we can keep working with Palm for a long time, but I'd like to get some products out on another platform pretty soon.

PS: In 2007 platforms have begun to shift radically with the iPod Touch / iPhone, Google’s Android OS, and Palm’s OS II. How will platforms change what you develop?
MM: So if we support two or more platforms, the question is do we try to create a product that works the same on each platform? Do we do NotePad for Palm, NotePad for Android, NotePad for iPod? Maybe, but I'd prefer to rethink the design so it really shines on each platform. Also, there might be more competition on some of these platforms, which would
be great! I'd love to focus on one or two great products than try to cover all the basic music tools.

PS: Will you consider developing for the iPod Touch / iPhone when the SDK becomes available?
MM: Am considering! Multi-touch opens some really interesting possibilities, but there are still many unknowns. I'm trying to prepare somewhat for the iPhone, but until Apple releases the developers kit I can't be sure what is and isn't actually possible.

PS: Do you think that there is a future in mobile music making, or will it remain as largely a hobbyist’s thing?
MM: Musicians are happy to use computers now. Most musicians love portable gear. Where we lose a lot of them is the small screen. They've experienced 15 or 17 inch laptop screens and they don't want to give up all that space yet. Roll up screens or folding screens could fix that... head mounted displays or miniature projectors? That's one way to solve the problem,
or we need to get more creative with the interface so you don't need so much screen space. Also, it just takes time. The same questions was asked about computer music making through much of the 70s and 80s... it didn't really hit it's stride until the mid 90s.

I can see the future going two ways: either everyone carries a computer in their pocket, which plugs into whatever interface is available (a big screen at your desk, a TV at home, etc.), or everything will move onto the internet, and your phone will just be a browser. Will someone find a way to create software interfaces that can scale to all these different sized displays, or do we continue making and selling separate products for large and small displays? Interfaces that scale down are hard, but simple, clean interfaces that scale up are quite possible...

PS: What was the most technically challenging application you have created?
MM: The first version of NotePad, which was basically my "Hello World" application, was orders of magnitude more complex a project than anything I'd done before. But looking back on it, it doesn't seem too bad now. The actual winner would be the Krikit Synth that provides sound for all of our apps right now... especially the version made for MixPad. The main difficulty
with it was that it was multi-threaded. Multiple threads takes debugging to this whole new level. If you had complete control of the device, this wouldn't be so bad, but you're at the whim of the OS as to when control passes between threads. Trouble.

Then there was a bug on the Treo 680: I spent months trying to figure out what it was and find a work around... no one at Palm wanted to believe it was their fault.

PS: What application / feature are you most proud of and why?
MM: In NotePad, you can write the letter name of a note (a, b, c, etc.) and that note is added to the song. I showed this to someone at a music trade show and they asked, jokingly: "But can you spell Bach?" referring to a piece by Bach that spells his name ("h" in german being used for the b-natural). Turns out I had read Godel Escher Bach and had included the "h" as an easter egg! He was very impressed! 2nd place goes to BugBand; seeing a whole classroom of kids playing BugBand? Priceless.

PS: What do your users ask for most?
MM: In my head I group all of the very niche requests together, so that seems like the biggest percentage. Things like Bag Pipe notation, or microtonal support. But if you throw all those out, importing MIDI files into NotePad is the most desired. The problem is: it's very hard to make that a good experience (and it remains a bad experience in many notation apps!) given
the wide range of MIDI files out there. MIDI was designed for live performance and it just doesn't always map well to notation. Doing the graphic display for MixPad helped a lot though, so it should happen before too long.

PS: What are you working on right now?
MM: Just moved, so I'm in cardboard box limbo at the moment. Still trying to get a few updates out before the year is over: small NotePad and BeatPad updates, and some new features for MixPad (like changing tempo, transposing, etc.)

PS: What one development could make application development easier for you?
MM: No bugs. But seriously, the biggest hurdle is often documentation for the SDK or OS. It often makes assumptions about the developers experience (like assuming you've developed for Windows or that you like Java). I'm hoping Apple will do good documentation for the iPhone SDK!

PS: When you make music, what kind of music do you make?
MM: In private? or for public performance? For public: I ended up moving in the "performance artist" direction. More conceptual music and interactive pieces. For example I've got a piece where people walking up and down a sidewalk trigger different sounds and timbres. Another piece has people drumming on helium balloons and popcorn. I did a pretty cool bowed
disklavier piece once. A wide range of stuff, really. If you search you might find a piece I did on the miniMusic website called "Little BeatPad Boy". Partially to show off NotePad and BeatPad, but I made it my own with some added samples and filters.

PS: What are you listening to?
MM: Haven't had time to find much new stuff recently. My latest favorite discovery was Tally Hall. Great song writers and very broad. But I'm all about diversity. My play lists always have some Peter Gabriel, Bela Fleck, Queen, Alan Parsons, Jaap Blank, Chem. Brothers... you know, the standards. Also throw in some great vocalists: Tracy Chapmen, Jane Siberry... I'm a big
fan of Hans Zimmer, which is a shame; he came by the miniMusic booth at NAMM one year, but I was taking a break!

PS: What would you like for Christmas this year?
MM: Zubbles. Maybe next year!

Thanks for that insight into miniMusic. I'm looking forward to what you're going to come up with using the iPhone SDK. Here's to an interesting 2008.

Tenori-On Global Launches on CDM


CDM has details on the Tenori-On launches all over the place.

PixiTracker


Just a quick post on PixiTracker, the tracker that runs under pixilang 1.4. It is quite an amazing applet. I've been playing with it on an Tungsten E. You can sequence and play samples then export to a WAV file too.

I'll post a video of it soon, but it really is worth a try.

Apple iPhone routemap


Lots of Apple related sites have the news today that Apple will host an event on the 6th of March entitled "The Apple iPhone Software Routemap". This will encompass the forthcoming (and probably late) SDK, and enterprise features.

I hope they don't make it too enterprise focused and ensure that audio developers can do something interesting with it.

iPhone update but no SDK yet ...


Apple have posted a 161mb bug fix update to the iPhone. How many bug fixes can you get in 161mb? Yet, still no news of the promised SDK, and obviously no apps as yet.

They've got until Friday. I'm hoping there's no delays although there are lots of rumours that it is going to be late by a few weeks.

DS Music Package on eBay


If you're looking to get into music making on the DS platform, here's a good starter. This package on eBay contains loads of software and homebrew adapter. Here's what the blurb says:
This older Nintendo DS has been turned into a music machine thanks to some homebrew messing around. I have a Max Media Launcher and GBA movie player to easily play homebrew apps. I also have a 512 MB Compact Flash Card with Nitrotracker already installed as well as some sound samples. I have four games included: Mario Kart DS - a fun racer, Electroplankton - a really interesting music making app. Daigasso! Band Brothers - an import title that lets you control a variety of instruments and play some really cool tunes with its rhythm game, and finally Jam Sessions - this turns your DS into a semi-guitar, noise maker. Real fun! The Nintendo DS works perfectly fine and comes with the original charger as well as a USB ScanDisk device for transferring files into the Compact Flash Card. If you like music making or want to get into Nintendo DS homebrew stuff, check this stuff out!

News 25.2.2008

Zune Games?
Will Zune games mean some more music games or apps for the Zune platform? Who knows, maybe one to watch.

Mobile Sounds Art
A more academic blog 'Mobile Sound' has this post on an aquatic project.

25% Off at PocketGear
PocketGear has a 25% off sale up to 2nd March if you buy two apps. The question is, is there anything to buy?

echo nest posts on Hedgehog and Egg Timer on the iPhone



Not quite what I was hoping for from echo nest, as all they've done is post the original StyleTap video and a tiny little comment. However, it does make me wonder if they are going to get serious about these apps again. I'd love to see these, and even Capers come out of echo nest.

Olympus LS10


Thanks to Chris for the details on this recorder. It does look good. Here's what SoundonSound have to say:
The LS10 is a portable stereo audio recorder that can capture uncompressed (linear PCM) WAVs at up to 24bit/96kHz. It's also capable of recording and playing back MP3s and WMA files, and users can even listen back to recordings using built-in stereo speakers. As you can see from the picture, the LS10 has a pair of microphones located at the top of its body, but an external mic can be plugged in via a mini-jack socket on the side of the device. Data can be recorded to the LS10's 2GB of on-board memory, although there's a slot for inserting an SD or SDHC card, into which a card of up to 32GB can be inserted.

Front panel controls include the expected play, record, stop and skip features, as well as buttons for entering and navigating menus. An A-B Repeat button enables you to loop a section of audio that's being played back, making transcribing slightly less painful and mastering that guitar lick a breeze! The large backlit LCD displays a reasonably large bargraph meter, as well as information on the current status of the machine.

Down the sides of the slim aluminium body are thumb wheels for controlling the input and output volume of the device, and switches for adjusting the on-board mics' sensitivity and engaging an automatic gain control (AGC) function. There's also a stereo line-level input on mini-jack.

Experimental version of Styletap on the iPod Touch



Before you ask, yes this is for real. The chaps at Styletap left me a comment on my previous post on the subject letting me know about this video, and it looks amazing. If they bring this to market then you could have bhajis loops and microbe running on an iPhone!

iPhone SDK to be delayed?

According to this post at Macrumors the SDK could be delayed by a few weeks.

iBand website

iBand have their own website now. Not much there at the moment, but let's hope they grow.

Vito Technology 7 day sale

Vito Technology are celebrating being 7 years old by having a sale of their products for 7 days where each application costs only $7.

Vito have a few apps that might be of interest to Windows Mobile users, such as their metronome, but a couple of apps really stand out (especially at $7).

Vito SoundEditor
This application has a bunch of useful editing functions.



and Vito SoundExplorer
Another application for performing a variety of sound tasks including encoding from WAV to MP3,

News 21.2.2008

A few news items today:

Windows Mobile and Zune
Brighthand has a post on Windows Mobile and Zune working together more closely, which, in many ways, would make lots of sense, but I wonder if it will happen.

Screens Environment
The long awaited environment seems to be continuing to make headway, there's a new video on the blog and a couple of posts on progress.

and finally ...
Although not related to mobile music, I found this story on Microsoft opening up to third party developers really interesting. It makes me wonder where they are going with this and what it will really mean.

Support your local CDM !!!


I have to admit that I read CDM and use the forums too. It is a great site and I hope it keeps going. So, if you like CDM, let's give them a hand.

Have you tried Bhajis in Live Mode?


If you haven't tried Bhajis Loops in Live Mode as yet, you really ought to give it a try. I was playing with it to set up some songs for a performance, and I was amazed how flexible it is.

Of course the down side is that if you perform live using only Bhajis Loops it won't look much like a performance, although you can hardly blame the software for that.

News 19.2.2008

Some other items of news today:

New HP UMPC?
Brighthand has an interesting article on rumours of a new HP UMPC. I'm still not decided on these things as a real alternative to a PDA, maybe one day.

TrakAx
Gets a good review from MEX (Mobile User Experience) at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Screens
Another update from screens, although as usual I struggle to get my head around it.

Tupperware DIY Synths (via Livepa)



Livepa has a great story on these DIY synths from ADACHI Tomomi.

Some more iPhone / iPod Touch music app videos



This looks like a good idea for an iPhone app, but in the video you can't really hear it, which is a shame.



Guitar Tuner, nice.



iPhone synth of course ...



iPhone oscillator!

BeatPhone video



Following on from yesterday's iBand video I thought I'd see if there were any beatphone videos on YouTube, and of course there are. Here's one that I quite liked.

Stacks of Pixilang news !!!

Loads of Pixilang news today.

Pixilang up to version 1.41
The pixel orientated environment has moved up to version 1.41. New features are:
  • added region clipping in frame(delay,clip_x,clip_y,clip_xsize,clip_ysize) command;
  • added new command file_dialog(filename,dialogname,mask,id)

Pixitracker
A tracker created using Pixilang


Last but not least ...

Pixilang competition
Those guys at warmplace have annouced a competition running up to the end of March for the best apps built in Pixilang.

News 18.2.2008

Some news items from today:

TrakAx have news from the Mobile World Congress
Read the story on the TrakAx site. They also have an interview with Loopmasters too today.

Handango 25% off
Handango have a 25% off sale on music / media apps for smartphones. The code is ENTERTAINMENT25.

Mobile Sound Blog
I stumbled over this blog today, and I thought you might find it interesting, if a little academic.

iAno, Piano for the iPhone



Having seen the iBand in action I had to find something on their 'iAno', which looks very cool indeed.

iBand ...



You've gotta watch this. Here's the shape of things to come ...

Did you know ...

That if you Google "Palm Sounds" the blog comes up as the top pick in a google search! Amazing.

My most popular video


I was amazed when I logged in to YouTube to find that this video (of mine) had over 1300 views ! I couldn't believe it.

Well, I hope to have more experiment videos soon.

Colartz on AntixLab demo

Tim Cole has an interesting post on the AntixLab technology demo. Now the demo is gaming related, but if they can run a single binary on multiple platforms then that would be worth having for mobile music applications.

Transient has a New Bhajis release: 'Fascinating Earthbound Objects'

Check it out at his site.

Will UMPCs take over handheld music making?

If UMPCs take off in a serious way do you think they'll take over from the PDA in terms of music making? In many ways a UMPC can do all the things that a PDA can do as well as running like a laptop too, so if the size and form factor was right, would you swap your PDA for a UMPC?

Why no ZuneStudio?

Ok it took Belkin a year to finally ship the TuneStudio, but it made me wonder why there was no such device for the Zune? No sure the Zune has nowhere near the market share for the iPod range, but surely people must see an opportunity and want to exploit it?

Thoughts on Capers

I posted on Capers a while ago, and I still have hopes that it will one day see the light of day, but I wonder in what form. The original pages for Capers stated:
Capers runs on the PalmOS and all compatible devices (Palm Pilots, IBM Workpads, Handspring Visors) are able to use it. The intended goal of Capers is to create a "replacement music operating system" for the Palm, in effect generating a handheld music platform rather than a group of applications.

I find that a really interesting idea. I like the thought of having a whole mobile OS that you could use on a handheld to replace the entire operating system. I still hope that one day it will surface in one form or another, and Brian Whitman did hint at it when he finally released his pushpin MIDI software, so maybe it will come about.

So if it did get released would you buy a Palm just to run capers?

Pocket Guitar Hero


What can I say? Read the story at FutureMusic.

Belkin Podcast Studio video


The stuff on the Podcast Studio device is about halfway through the video.

When did you last visit the soldering ironcam?

If indeed you did visit the soldering iron cam at all?

News 15.2.2008

Not much news today I'm afraid.

iPhone SDK
Macrumors has an article on the iPhone SDK coming this month. There are more hints at apps being available via iTunes, which makes a lot of sense really, and also that there are developers already working with Apple on the SDK so that when they bring it out there will be a bunch of apps available for day one.

I really hope they will do something that makes sense for musical applications. Time will tell.

Screens Environment
Another update from Screens which is fairly technical in content.

Futuresonic 2008
Last call for submissions to Futuresonic 2008 is 25th of Feb.

News 13.2.2008

Here's today's news so far:

Rapid Movie 2.0
PalmInfocenter have the news that Ransoft have release version 2.0 of their stop motion app Rapid Movie. Version 2.0 makes the app compatible with the Zire 72 and Centro.

I love stop motion stuff and I think Ransoft are a good software house. It is worth taking a look at their site as they have a number of freeware apps too.

Orange to release ALP Phone
Brighthand has a story on Orange announcing the release of what I think will be the first ALP (Access Linux Platform) phone this summer. This will be interesting to see how existing Palm applications fair on ALP and what developers can come up with for the new platform.

Moving Androids
Brighthand again has a story on the first bunch of Android powered phones announced. Interesting against the backdrop of the Vodaphone CEO asking for fewer operating systems for phones!

Trackers for every platform

This was on the echonest blog today, it is a link to a massive list of trackers and applications for legacy platforms like the Atari ST, Amiga etc.

They make the interesting point, "Why did they all have to look like spreadsheets?". Good question.

Anyway, this seems to be an excellent place for looking for apps to use in emulators.

News 12.2.2008

A couple of items of note so far today.

Access Linux Platform
Palm InfoCenter have this story on Access releasing their SDK and new developer tools.

Flash Support for iPhone?
According to MacRumurs Flash support may be coming to the iPhone alongside the SDK. I think a lot of people would be very happy if that were to happen.

Screens Environment
Screens moves forward. It has been an amazing step up in the development pace for this project this year. I hope it keeps going.

News 11.2.2008

There's a few bits and pieces of news today.

Mobile Music Workshop
This year's workshop is in Vienna. There's just one more week available for submissions to the workshop if you're interested. For more visit the workshop site.

PocketSelect
There's a 15% off sale during Feb at PocketSelect. I wasn't particularly aware of them before, but they have 4Pockets stuff on their portal so they must be
ok.

Earman 2.0
RoGame software have update their ear training software Earman up to version 2.0. I couldn't really tell what had changed though.



PDA 24/7 Review of Scrapbook
This caught my attention in terms of having a useful way of capturing notes and ideas. Whilst I'm not big on note taking applications, sometimes one turn up that is actually worth looking at, and often I think that all my ideas and thoughts need a bit more organising. The review can be found here.

iPod Studio Idea
I've never ploughed through the forums at iLounge before, but this popped up the other day, and I thought it was worth sharing. On the face of it I wouldn't have thought that it would be a difficult game type application for for iPod Classics and 5th Gens.

Emulation

A while back I posted a few times on some experiments in emulation using a Dell Axim. Well, I've been at it again. I think that trying to emulate old platforms on a handheld is one of those ideas that will plague me until I get it right, or at least until I've given it a really good shot.

So I've started at it again. This time, I am trying to emulate a number of platforms. Here they are:
  • Atari ST
  • Mac OS 6 & 7
  • Commodore 64
  • Amiga
  • ZX Spectrum
  • GBA
I'm planning on posting on these as I have either success or failure with the platforms. However, when I was embarking down this route again, I started to wonder why it was that I couldn't get it out of mind?

I realised that for me whole point of emulation was in effect to be able to contain an entire desktop system within a PDA.

I think that there could be some interesting possibilities with running older and yet still worthwhile software on emulated platforms within a single device.

Will it work though? I don't know, at the moment I'm just starting with this again. I'll let you know how it goes, and if I do get good results I'll be sure to post exactly what I've done and how.

iPhone development alternative

I picked this up from iPod Hacks. Jiggy is an easy way for developers to get to a more native development for the iPhone and iPod Touch. of course, who knows how it will work once the Apple SDK arrives?

iPhone SDK rumours and theories ...

TUAW has the latest on the rumours on the upcoming iPhone / iPod Touch SDK.

According to TUAW the SDK might contain an iPhone simulator which would make life a lot easier for developers, but most concerning is that there might be a significant delay to the SDK. Apple promised the SDK by the end of the month. We'll have to wait and see.

News 7.2.08

I'm going to try something a bit different for a while and post all the "news" items I think will be interesting in a single post every day unless there is something that really requires a separate post. So, for today:

Modu via Brighthand

Nice idea, a modular phone which can become lots of other things too. Who know maybe one of those will be a multi-track. Very scant on detail as yet, but maybe worth watching. Here's the video.



Screens Environment

More news from Screens, things are really moving along nicely on that project now. I haven't tried the test .prc file, but as updated a released I may well do.

Matchbox synth


thing-a-day: matchbox synthesizer from ranjit on Vimeo.
Nice.

Even More MIDI Controller thoughts (thanks to Pete)

Thanks Pete, and all the best with the Noatikl.
Hi! Pete here again from intermorphic. :)

Just for historical information really, miniMIXA V3 had an XY-control in it. We always wanted to have that output MIDI controller data via an external MIDI port... but the right device drivers were never around at the time. So it only worked on internal synths/effects. Oh well!

On a related note, noatikl V1.5 (which is now out) in addition to being used as a MIDI generator, can itself respond to incoming MIDI events, and can even self-script using internal triggerable Lua scripts. :) If I ever do another mobile app, I'll definitely look to include these sorts of ideas, as it'd be wonderful to build this sort of stuff into mobile devices...!

All the best, Pete

Hand held hardware you know you want

Thanks to _aa_ for bringing this to my attention. There has been a bit of a trend for tiny hand held synths, and _aa_ has pointed out three excellent examples.

LIFE 1 and 2 from Technomage

These beautiful looking synths are really tempting. I wish I'd known about the LIFE 1 earlier.

LIFE 2

LIFE 1


Next is the Little Blue Boy from Flower Electronics

A great design, but not cheap by any means.



Last, and by no means least is the bc16 miniature patch synth from Chimera Synthesis

I think I've posted on this before, but it is really worth a look.



I'm not going to go into detail about any of these, follow the links to take a look. I've you've played with any of them then please post a comment to let me know what they're like.

iPod Touch goes up to 32gb

The news is all over the place but I'll post it too, the iPod Touch is now available in 8, 16, and 32gb varieties.

Let's hope that the apps off the back of the SDK won't need that much space to run in.

Apps that Inspired ...

Thanks to Pete for this comment on the Mobile Music Directory today. I appreciate the comments.
Hi! Pete here from intermorphic. Keep up the great work BTW, I keep coming back to your site for inspiration! :)

I think it'd be nice for nostalgic reasons to list mobile apps that have inspired you in some way, that are no longer available. miniMIXA would obviously get my vote - that was one *awesome* piece of kit, you wouldn't believe what we packed into V3. Did I ever mention that, amongst other things, it actually included a video mixing mode and a media player? :) Ah, happy days...!

A few things come to mind on this comment:

1. Yes you're right, I need to update the Mobile Music Directory, it hasn't had any attention in a while.

2. I think you're idea for a list of mobile apps that are no longer available but that were inspiring is a good idea and I'll give it some thought.

3. I wish I'd bought miniMIXA when I had a chance, but even more than that I wish it was still around so people (including me) could see V3 because it sounded fantastic. The sad thing is that since Tao went under I expect the intellectual property will never be released. What a shame. Something like that should be let back to the developers, or even make it open source if no one wants to take it on.

Ok, rant over, for now at least.

Once final thought on the subject, whatever you do, if there's a mobile application you're thinking of buying, but you're holding out for the next version or update, or whatever, don't. Buy it now, in case it isn't there tomorrow.

Yamaha QY series

I was wondering what the QY series of modules would look like if Yamaha were to make them today? I think that in their day they were great devices, and still work really well today, but if they made them now what would they do?

I'd hope for something like the size of the Boss Micro BR with a full touch screen and functionality like that of Bhajis Loops + Griff + a multi-track recorder too (of course).

What would I like to pay for it? Maybe £250 - £300? More for the right level of functionality.

So why isn't anyone doing something like this? Or am I missing something?

Echonest blog


I found this over at the echonest blog and thought it looked fun. I also liked their comment on this video "no reason this shouldn't run on the iPhone".

More MIDI Controller thoughts (from yuhki)



yuhki started me thinking about this stuff, so I thought that I'd post a bit of an update.

I was playing with AxisPad today using my TRG Pro and Yamaha MU15, which makes a great combination for making noises. The MU15 is a lovely tone module, but I wanted to try using AxisPad as a controller more than an instrument.

I realised that that wasn't as easy as I'd thought. Then I realised that AxisPad was based on the original Theremini / Theremidi from Pete Moss. Now on his site it claims that Theremidi has more features than the Korg Kaos Pad.

Now, I haven't tried the app as yet, but I will, and then I'll post again.


What would make you change platforms?

Perhaps I don't mean change, but rather adopt a new platform. I remember when I first found out about Griff I decided to buy a pocket PC, and was amazed by the range of music software available for it.

I wonder what would make me branch out into another platform again? What software, or hardware would make it really worthwhile? I think it would have to be a real step change, something vastly different from what I have and use now.

So what would make you jump?

What am I missing?

Normally the platforms or devices that get covered under Palm Sounds are:

- Palm OS
- Windows Mobile
- UMPCs
- iPod / iPhone
- DS (a bit)

But I do wonder if there are other platforms or devices I should cover.

If there are, please let me know.

Update 1:

Thanks for pointing out gp2x, and I forgot PSP as well.

Update 2:

Thanks to Peter for mentioning the blackberry. I don't think I've ever thought of the blackberry as an audio platform nor do I have any idea of what it is capable of at all.

lissajou live gameboy performance (via Livepa)



What a fantastic performance! Lissajou has an interesting MySpace page too. All these sounds are from Nanoloop / LSDJ. Makes me want to buy a gameboy again.