MusicReader For iPad

There are lots of very interesting Apps coming out for the iPad. One that has come out for musicians is MusicReader for the iPad. While the iPad App is free, the software to get files into the program costs anywhere from $59 to $99. Outrageous? Damn right. Seriously, this is highway robbery. A more reasonable solution would be maybe to charge $4.99 for the program and give the converter program out for free. But $59? You have to be kidding.

I’d stick to GoodReader, which is $.99 and request that the author of this GREAT program to add annotations, which would basically do what MusicReader does. I have scanned in or printed to PDF a number of things and you can read them easily in the GoodReader. For $0.99 rather than nearly $60…..

The Real Book Play-Along – Volume 1

Hal Leonard is selling a CD set of backgrounds to ALL the songs in the Real Book Vol. 1. For about $100, you get 12 CDs of piano, bass and drums background that range in time from about 2 1/2 minutes to 6. Depends on the song. A couple of songs, like Wave, have guitar on them….sorta….it almost sounds like a synth patch. Or it was added as an afterthought. Some of the tracks could have been better with just guitar, bass and drums (like wave or Summer Samba). A couple of songs they took the piano out and replaced it with an electric keyboard type sound (like Sugar) which isn’t bad, but it isn’t as good as, say, a good B3 type of sound.

Is it worth the $100? Yes. Originally I thought this would be sort of a lame package, or something that wouldn’t really add anything to the songs one might already have the Aebersold versions of. Or maybe that my favorite program, Band in a Box could do what this offers and more. The backgrounds on these discs are accurate playings of the songs found in the Real Book that Hal Leonard publishes (or if you still have the “illegal” version that used to float around until Hal Leonard picked it up). The guys on the discs will give you whats on the page. I suppose that Band in a Box could do that too with some work, but it still couldn’t capture the drum hits on songs like Some Skunk Funk.

9/10. It’s a little costly, some of the songs aren’t as long as I would have liked, and I wish there was more variety than 90% if the tracks being Piano, Bass and Drums, but it still offers a lot of songs (240 according to my iTunes playlist after I imported all of them) to practice with.

Saitara Software AC-7 Pro Control Surface for iPad

Yes, the iPad is out. Yes, it is amazing. No, it is not simply a bigger iTouch or an iPhone without the phone part. If you haven’t been able to try one, then go to a store and try it. You will be hooked. There are a few music apps out, like Magic Piano which is neat-o to show your friends, but really has no practical use in my opinion.

However, there are a few functional apps in the store, and one that I’m growing fond of is the AC-7 Pro Control Surface for the iPad ($9.99). It turns your iPad into a virtual fader board and DAW controller for Logic, Digital Performer, and Pro Tools. It does this “magic” by utilizing your WiFi network to connect to your Mac using an open source program called DSMI to connect to the app and translate its messages to midi. You then go and configure your DAW to receive the midi stream from DSMI as a Mackie Control. And it works….mostly.

I say mostly because, well, there are issues. First off, using your general wifi network (ie the network that your mac, iphone, ipad, internet connection is on) it seems to work most of the time, but it will lose connection every now and then. Usually when you really need it. General consensus seems to be that on an busy network, if there is a packet that gets dropped, DSMI and the app don’t retransmit it. Or something to that effect, resulting in programs like Pro Tools complaining about the HUD connection or worse, messing up the position of the fades, which could be bad.

If you have a Mac that has built in WiFi, you can create a private wifi network, and put the iPad on it, and then the App works flawlessly (at least for me). But if you have a MacPro that doesn’t have its own wifi transmitter, well, you are going to have to suffer for a while. To get dynamic track names, you also need to use a freeware program called midipipe.

So, it is a start. I think really what needs to be done is a custom app on the Mac side that connects properly with the iPad app and won’t drop packets and drops the need for midipipe. If you can get through the setup, it is a very slick app. The Pro Tools support is basic, but the support for Digital Performer and Logic is pretty darn complete. And it can only get better with updates which will hopefully add more Pro Tools support. It’s bleeding edge, but workable. It is really nice now to not have to be tied to the computer to control Pro Tools. If you have an iPad, or an iPhone/iTouch (there is a smaller version for iPhone/iTouch), and work with DAWs a lot, check this app out.

8/10 (2 points deducted because there is no unified mac app for it…..you have to run 2 programs, and the configuration is not totally apparent).

Some guys demo of it.

Why this guy is wearing a Microcrap shirt I don’t know……(Update: He works for Microcrap….I can hear the chairs being thrown by Steve Ballmer now….)