Sunday, January 12, 2014

Taking Flight

The trip home for the holidays this year was made much more pleasant by my (re-)discovery of GarageBand for iPad.  This was especially exciting because it has a few feature allowing the user to record from external iOS synth apps, in this case NLog Pro, an iPad-based synth that I particularly like.  I spent most of the 4 1/2 hour flight west tweaking sounds, building sequences, and recording tracks in GB:  I'm now convinced it's the only way to fly.  When I got home, the results became the basis for this new piece, named because of the sense of freedom and optimism it evoked in me -- and which, in turn, came from the bright anticipation of a week with family and friends.

This was a tremendously fun piece to write.  One of the things I love about NLog is its ability to create easily sounds with complex, scintillating layers of overtones, from shiny leads to rich basses to hypnotic pads.  It is also available for desktop (stand alone and plug-in) which, further, allows sounds created on the iPad to be transferred relatively easily to one's DAW of choice.  The new GB feature allowing input from NLog means that messing around I do that, in the past, would have gotten lost or forgotten now can get moved to my main work application (Logic Pro 9) and actually developed. 

Another iOS app I really like that I used here is Little MIDI Machine.  It's a throwback-style sequencer with great functionality; it is very stable, works well with other iOS synths, and is relatively intuitive.  It's great:  by setting it up to run in the background while controlling, in this case, NLog, I can switch back and forth to either work on sound design in the synth or the music in the sequencer, letting the evolution of each influence the other.

Although it was very fun, I'm a little self-conscious about this piece:  Despite three years of music school (30 years ago), my knowledge, understanding, and feel for harmony is very weak, and the vertical structure of Flight Song reflects this.  It's a very, very simple piece.  That said, sometimes happy feelings are pretty simple:  there was not much need to adulterate my joy with gravity's alloys.  I hope you find listening to it as fun as I did making it.

This work was composed using TempoRubato's NLog Pro, Synthetic Bits' Little MIDI Machine, Apple's GarageBand (all for iOS), Apple's Logic Pro 9 and its native synths, and NLog Polysynth for OSX.