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Make your own music and make your own apps

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by Zoraida Cabrera

New Media possesses the remarkable capacity of putting on our hands the ability to do many things that we could not do otherwise. The three tools discussed bellow represent this ability. Two of them allow you to make music in ways you probably never thought you could before, and the third allows you to make your own prototype of an app without having to learn all of the complicated programing skills behind making apps.


No one can deny the beauty behind a guitar or an oboe or a tuba, or any analog instrument. However, Beatsurfing allows for a whole new way of creating music. This iPad app, made by the collaborative efforts of Vlek Records, Herrmutt Lobby, and Yaniv De Ridder allows anyone to create their own MIDI instrument from scratch. Anyone can create an instrument that has never been played or heard before!

The best part of the app is that it allows for endless exploration of creativity without all the regular cost of making your own MIDI instrument for an iPadd. As an article by Mark Willson from Co.Design explains:

If Beatsurfing is anything, it’s void of constraints. Users can choose between four vastly different basic buttons (that do everything from drop beats to augment pitches), then arrange, resize, map, and cluster them to create a totally unique MIDI instrument–the kind of whimsical device that would cost tens of thousands of dollars in prototyping to have developed just a decade ago.

Of course, the app does have its limitations, as Co.Design explains, the iPad isn’t great for percussion. Also the app does not contain a sound source, which means you will have to download the sounds you want to mix. However, once you have the sound the app is easy to work with. That being said, the creation team makes a great point on the article by Co.Design: “developing a piece of music by surfing your fingers on the screen and putting your sounds and controllers anywhere on the screen at the same time as you build your track is something really fresh. When objects can interact with each other, it becomes an organic environment.”

You can download Beatsurfing on the Apple Store.


Ever wish you could get your hands on one of those multimedia mixer boards that audio engineers use in concerts to manage sound and lights? Of course you probably think this equipment is too expensive for the regular consumer to afford. Well, SketchSynth let’s you draw it. Yes, you can actually draw a multimedia board and use it.

Thanks to this tool created by Carnegie Mellon student Billy Keyes, you can create a MIDI board, with three different types of controls, which have the basic shapes of a circle, a rectangle and an elongated I. Anyone can draw this simple shapes, and with this technology in their hands, the creative possibilities know no boundaries. Mark Willson, from Co.Design explains how it works:

A simple webcam picks up the shapes and sends them to a computer, then, a projector actually lays extra data on top of the drawing, like virtual nubs to control the sliders. This approach allows the user to draw something simple and stagnant, while light can animate additional content wherever it may be needed. The camera is able to track the user’s hands on the controls, not through fancy IR-based 3-D models, but just by sensing the color green in human skin.

If you still have your doubts, check out this video to see how it works:


After trying out both these two tools  Cory George, a sound engineer in LA, says “Combining the Sketch Synth and MIDI build apps into one could reduce work time on a lot of routine audio edits.” Not only everyday users, but also professionals can see advantages to tools like these.

And our last tool is no different, for although not related to music, it makes the complicated simple for non-professionals, and helps professionals reduce time and/or explore ideas.


pop app

Have you ever had a great idea for an app, but realized you have no knowledge of how programming works? Created by the Taiwanese studio WoomooPOP allows you to create your own prototype of an app. As Woomoo’s blog explains: “Simply take pictures of your paper prototypes or import Photoshop files, and you can add links to these images and make them interactive. You can actually make a demo app running on iPhone with only pen and paper.”  Once you have the pictures imported you can select specific parts and link them to other parts of your prototype. Pop takes care of what is known as “wireframing,“which is what allows the images to interact with each other.

Woomoo created a sample Twitter app, which you can check out here.

As you can see, once again New Media expands the horizons of our creativity.


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