IPad Apps

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

No doubt about it. The most exciting growth in the record business this year has come from Apple. In fact, Apple has dominated the last decade of excitement in the record business with the iPod, iTunes and the iPad. The iPad applications have taken the company's old motto, Think Different, into a whole new direction.

If you don't have the hardware yet, chances are you have iPad envy. There are hundreds of thousands of applications currently on offer and more are being released each week. Apple's masterstroke of genius is their marketing expansion built on the backs of code mongers and hackers, all whom inspire us for pleasure and profit. Anyone can write an iPad application and submit it to iTunes for giveaway or resale and this has become the true power of creative crowd-sourcing.

One of my favorite apps is Bloom, created by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers. Bloom is a music generator that repeats and evolves tones using similar patterns. Touch the IPad screen, and create your own auditory dreamscape. It's pure Brian Eno. And if you're tired of hearing those particular sounds, shake the iPad and the notes fade to silence.

A similar, and equally interesting music generator is the application Soundrop. Soundrop allows the user to draw and create sounds out of line drawings. You can bend, and manipulate the lines, and as you do, the sound conforms accordingly. It's like mixing a musical instrument with a gaming concept.

If you've never played violin, but always wanted to, check out the Magic Fiddle app. The same folks who created the Ocarina ancient flute on iPhone as well as the Magic Piano created Magic Fiddle. And like those applications, you can learn how to play the instrument, and hear how others play it around the world. Check out the very realistic YouTube video of the St. Lawrence String Quartet playing Pachebel's Canon on iPad. You'll find it on my On the Beat page at KCRW.

You can find iPad apps to teach you how to play guitar, tabla, trombone, French horn and just about every other instrument you can think of. You can learn to play the Theremin and even the cowbell. Apple iPads have done more for igniting interest in playing musical instruments than any other single invention in the last 50 years.

For the more sophisticated musician, BeatMaker is a complex portable workstation. The application has a loop sampler, drum machine and sequencer built-in with a 16-pad layout. Five of the pads can be triggered simultaneously. While this application is not for the casual amateur, it does offer a lot of bang for the semi-professional and pro musician to work out ideas.

I feel like these are the early days of the table computer and its hard to guess just what the impact this new technology will have. For instance, iPad orchestras are starting to pop up around the world in response to these new apps. So enjoy the burst of creativity.

If you have an iPad, drop me a line on my KCRW page and let me know which music applications you like the best.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.