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What Ed's iPad thinks

Ed looks like

Greetings, and thanks for your interest in "Making Music with the Apple iOS"! My name's Ed Goldfarb, and I'm a classically trained pianist/composer/producer/whatever with a long line of credits in almost any musical genre you can name (except maybe dubstep, which is technically a subgenre anyway, and hey, there's still time!) The recent growth of the iOS music community has been an incredible inspiration to me as a music maker, educator and enthusiast. It's still kinda science fiction to me that for the cost of a 2-year cell phone contract (+ $4.99 worth of software) you can acquire a 137-gram handheld computer on which you can record music of professional quality. Of course, like anything worthwhile in our era, there's so much information, press and, well, noise in the iOS music world that figuring out how to get started (with literally thousands of titles in the "Music" category of the App Store to chose from) can be daunting.


Meet the Pixis!

I've created this class to introduce you to the myriad kinds of fun to be had with music apps on iOS devices, regardless of your previous musical experience. To that end, I've designed the course to (hopefully) have something for everyone pretty much every step of the way. The first app we're going to work with is PixiTracker by independent developer Alexander Zolotov. A grid-based pattern sequencer (don't worry if you don't know what that means) with a quirky but charming graphic interface, it's great fun to play with whether or not you know anything about music. Additionally, it's an excellent way to introduce basic rhythm programming to new musicians, sampling to those who've not crafted their own sounds before, and production techniques like note velocity variation to anyone who might benefit from them.




Go Figure

From PixiTracker, we'll move on to Propellerhead's Figure, a beginner-friendly (but very powerful) app featuring sounds from their Mac/Windows program Reason. Figure utilizes scalar modes (groups of notes that sound good together) so we'll learn a little bit about what the different modes sound like, as well as some stuff about signal processing and effects, since Figure has a beautifully designed and easy to learn mixing environment. These two apps will keep us plenty busy the first three weeks, but during that time we'll also be learning about song structure and arrangement, as well as some techniques for getting music and sound in and out of your iOS device (via Dropbox, Audio Copy/Paste and iTunes File Sharing).


Next, we'll move on to Apple Garageband for iOS, with which we'll spend several weeks, digging deeper into sequencing, recording and sampling on the app while also learning about mixing, and home recording (including techniques for making great-sounding recordings using minimal equipment). 


MUS 66D is indeed a college-level course, so each week there will be a written quiz and/or a music production assignment. Each week's assignment will be worth 100 points. The Midterm (200 points) and Final (300 points)l will have both written and production-based segments - you're gonna make a lot of music in this class! There will also be numerous opportunities to accrue extra points, in case you want to explore an app in more detail, or just want to impress me with your dedication :-)


Since we've got students at all levels of musical experience in this class, your production work will, for the most part, be graded quantitatively i. e. if you complete the assignment, you'll get a good grade, even if it's not necessarily ready for worldwide distribution. However, I will always provide detailed qualitative feedback on your music - we're not just here to learn apps, but to become better musicians and producers, too!


Impaktor - the world is your drum

After three weeks with Garageband, we'll demonstrate what we've learned via the Midterm, and then explore the state of the audio app world in February 2013. I'm leaving that part of the class kinda open-ended, since you never know what cool new apps are going to be released, or which otherwise prohibitively expensive apps (I'm looking at you, Animoog) go on sale. I'm guessing that no percussion app is going to eclipse Beep Street's awesome Impaktor, however, and it's probably safe to plan on spending some time with Yonac's Magellan and Magellan Jr.



Prepare to explore Magellan

That "Jr." distinction brings me to this - you can take this class with any relatively modern iDevice - anything from an iPhone 3GS on up will work just fine. The iPad gets more attention in music-making circles, but, personally, I love making music on the iPhone - you really can't get more portable - so all the apps in this class are either Universal (designed for all devices) or available in separate versions for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch (as is the case with Magellan). You'll need to make sure that you're running the latest iOS (6.0.1 at this writing) and you'll be expected to keep up with app updates - get in the habit of checking the App Store app often to stay up to date.


You should try to have about $75.00 available for app purchases over the length of the course. Our core apps (PixiTracker, Figure and GarageBand) aren't expensive, but once we get into the specialty apps, the average prices are around $10.00. Of course, compared to its theoretical desktop equivalent, $7.99 for a great-sounding feature-rich synthesizer like Magellan is an incredibly good value.


You'll need access to a desktop computer in order to transfer files to and from your device via iTunes File Sharing (although most file transfers will ultimately be possible directly from your iDevice). There are computers available at the IDEA lab on the Foothill campus if you don't have one of your own. When the class starts, I'll create a Dropbox folder for each of you, and that's where you'll deposit your completed production projects. Each lesson (Module) will open on Monday morning, in order to keep the class moving along at the same pace.


This class is a work in progress - I'll be creating content over the course of the Quarter. I'm hoping that we'll have an active Discussion Forum - the iOS music app world is a very exciting place right now, as new capabilities come to the platform and existing apps are further refined on a pretty much weekly basis. I hope that this is the beginning of a great journey of musical discovery for you - get ready to learn all about "Making Music with the Apple iOS".


Peace and love,



p. s. Way to soft-sell, Ed. SIGN UP FOR MUS 66D, "Making Music with the Apple iOS" HERE!


©2013 Ed Goldfarb


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