Your musical journey - How did you arrive at making music on iOS?

edited August 2017 in General

I've been on this forum for 3 months now and it does seem like an eclectic bunch of people!
I've noticed a lot are a similar age to myself (46) and wondered how you had all arrived at this juncture. It's a great and varied community and I feel like I know some of you a bit, but I would like to know more.

I'll kick off with - I was a singer in bands when I was in my teens through to late twenties. Wasn't good enough on any kind of instrument and a bit too lazy to put the time in, to be honest. Kids came along, I had no free time and I left music making behind for a good 10 years or so.
I'd always been interested in sequencing and computer music and dabbled around a bit on drum machines, sequencers and 4 track recording since those teenage years.
I finally picked up the guitar and made myself learn basic barre chords.

Then technology seemed to catch up to where I'd always wanted it to be

I started on PC and Cakewalk. Very sporadically in and out of making stuff until now, when I've totally immersed myself into making music on an iPad.
I would've loved this stuff in my youth!
You can basically be a one person band now and all those ideas in your head CAN see the light of day!

What's your story?



  • Acorn Electron - Atari ST - PC - iPod Touch - Discovered ThumbJam - Goodbye Disposible Income.

    Also been noodling on guitars and keyboards for over 25 years with very little evidence of improvement or talent.

    Music making, love it.

  • edited August 2017

    When I was a kid a crazed Winger fan beat me up. I recovered in the hospital making beats on a Speak n Spell.

  • @TheVimFuego said:
    Acorn Electron - Atari ST - PC - iPod Touch - Discovered ThumbJam - Goodbye Disposible Income.

    Also been noodling on guitars and keyboards for over 25 years with very little evidence of improvement or talent.

    Music making, love it.

    Atari ST! I remember friends having them, but I couldn't afford it!
    Was apparently really good?!

    Yeah, apps are so easy to buy...

    The whole making something from nothing, just an idea, is what I love.

  • @AudioGus said:
    When I was a kid a crazed Winger fan beat me up. I recovered in the hospital making beats on a Speak n Spell.

    This sounds like a quote from a movie or song?!

  • edited August 2017

    @DefRobot said:

    @TheVimFuego said:
    Acorn Electron - Atari ST - PC - iPod Touch - Discovered ThumbJam - Goodbye Disposible Income.

    Also been noodling on guitars and keyboards for over 25 years with very little evidence of improvement or talent.

    Music making, love it.

    Atari ST! I remember friends having them, but I couldn't afford it!
    Was apparently really good?!

    Yeah, apps are so easy to buy...

    The whole making something from nothing, just an idea, is what I love.

    I couldn't afford an Amiga so the ST was my thing (couldn't afford a BBC B hence the Electron).

    It was great, built in MIDI ports, great sequencers and a sampling cartridge which really stoked my interest.

    I remember upgrading to a DOUBLE sided floppy drive, luxury!

    My end of school Computer Science project was to code a sequencer, I nearly made it ... ambition got the better of me.

    I try to keep all this in perspective when people nit-pick about apps that cost a fraction and do so much.

  • @DefRobot said:

    @AudioGus said:
    When I was a kid a crazed Winger fan beat me up. I recovered in the hospital making beats on a Speak n Spell.

    This sounds like a quote from a movie or song?!

    Thanks man, it's nice to be apreciated. I was starting to feel like Santa Claus being beat up by Superman... or, maybe I am Superman beating up Santa Claus? I don't know anymore, it's been a rough day. :)

  • edited August 2017

    Started just a little over a year and a half ago with GarageBand being my introduction. I quickly discovered the plethora of amazing synths and FX and fun filled tools on iOS and quickly became overwhelmed by it all.

    It all seemed like crazed madness at first, but on one sunny Sunday morning I found this Gadget which opened my eyes and ears. I instantly fell in love at the sonic possibilities.

    Since then I've become more familiar with the landscape of tools and techniques and have been on the mission of learning to hone my craft and become a better composer and producer.

    The beauty of iOS is that the barrier of entry is quite low once who have the hardware and there are many different avenues to peruse ones interest.

    To me the iPad is right up there with the 4 Track recorder of yesteryear. It gives us all the potential to imagine and create amazing things...if we put in the time and effort.


  • I started by studying piano and classical music. Then I convinced my parents to buy me a Roland E20 (self arranging synth). I started playing in hotels and restaurants. Then I bought Korg M1, Roland E70, Roland W30, Korg O3R. I used to control everything with a Windows 3.1 notebook and Cakewalk 2.0. My digital recorder was Sony MiniDisc. At home I started using Cubase Elements with VSTs. In 2008 I started developing fitness iOS apps, so I bought an iPhone, in 2010 I bought my first iPad, and then I started to explore the world of iOS music apps. In 2010 I started to self learn electric bass. Actually, even if I have license of Cubase a Elements for my Macs, I use an iPad Pro, a Kawai stage piano and an Akai EIE usb soundcard.

  • Began on a Tascam 424 four track cassette PortaStudio in '93, went to the Tascam 488mkII eight track machine in '96. I played sessions at some project studios that used Alesis ADAT's with a 8 bus Mackie board late '90's, then slowly the DAW's crept in.

    Didn't get my first DAW until 2006 with a ProTools M Powered rig on a Windows laptop. Used that and my old 488mkII for a long time plus friends I had and the recording program I went through had more powerful DAW setups so used those sometimes as well to record ideas, etc.

    My first taste of mobile recording came from the Android app ULoops, now called PocketBand, but not updated any longer. The guys who make Oscilab are the devs, and for it's time in 2010-2011 it opened my eyes to the potential of recording on smaller devices with unlimited portability.

    My wife bought me an iPad Air 2 in 2015, and the first few days were spent in awe of what it could do with the incredible selection of instrument & recording apps. When I saw Auria for the first time, the price compared to all the other apps of course made me blanch a bit, but after buying it and spending the day with it I knew that iOS Music Production was the way I was going to create music from then on. It was, and still is, amazing what can be done on a device no bigger than a magazine.

    Who knows what the future holds (especially in this world right now...can we still write songs in nuclear winter?), but I am really excited about where iOS Music Production is heading. As the more powerful Pro's inspire stouter apps who knows what the current and future devs cook up...

  • Well when I got out of prison I never saw an iPad.

    I tried it and found Figure.

    Then Audiobus and then Loopy.

    Rest is histotry.

    Was a PC DAW user prior.

    kidding on prison

  • @echoopera
    Really cool piece. Reminds me of an album called SPACE by Jimmy Cauty of the KLF. Loved that album and you just inspired me to dig it out :)

  • Started in 'real' world with instruments, studios, etc. Had a long break. Started again with PC based music making apps. Had some small success. Stopped again. Years later, I got an Android tablet made by Sony. When this packed up, I jumped ship to Apple, discovered Garage Band and soon after that TheSoundTestRoom. Since then, aside from the occasional dabbling with Logic Pro X on the Mac, I have never looked back or been more productive.

  • @RustiK said:

    kidding on prison

    Is that you, number 43? ;)

  • edited August 2017

    Well i played guitar for some time when i was like 10-11, but quit it. Then late 2009 i picked up an electroacoustic bass, since i wanted to start playing bass(i dont like to play chrods on guitar, at all, so i thought bass would suit me better). Few years later i got ableton and mpd32 and started to make music and get into using soft synths etc. Bought a 6-string electric bass, audio interface, took home my old classical guitar from moms place for occasional playing around, and bought this 80's technics electric organ i got for cheap. And could use for midi keys, rhythm machine for practising bass, bass speaker, and get some sounds out of, mostly crap, but some useable, like the bass section sounds lovely. At this point i noticed that there was an ableton controller app for my android phone, whih i thought was really cool and started using it(my first steps into mobile music territory). Then i got a fender mustang v1 guitar amp from a friend dirt cheap, and thought id play bass through it(guitar like tones), aand i saw a very cheap electric guitar, so i bought it for lulz. So i got into playing guitar more. Bought another guitar more suitable as a metal rhythm guitar(which is what i like to play with guitar mostly).
    About 3 years ago, when iphone 6 got released, i started to look into getting an iphone, so i bought iphone6, noticed that there was a much better ableton controller for it(touch able), so i used my iphone for that for a while. Then 2 years ago, i started to look into more what an ios could offer with ipad, mostly inspired by touchables ipad version. And well it seemed really nice, so i got an air2 for myself. Launchpad was one of the first apps i used besides touchable, and i was hooked. I used my ipad with my laptop for synths, touchable, sometimes used ipad alone, and slowly started to drift into just using an ipad alone. Then got more interested on synths, bought minibrute and yamaha cs6x. Now i just route midi to ipad with ableton and send it to ipad via bluetooth, and just yesterday got myself the new usb dongle, which meant that i had one for my iphone as well, and can hook my other interface to it instead of laptop.

  • edited August 2017

    a. Acoustic guitar (1987)

    b. 2 tape machines overdub (1989)

    c. Tascam 4 track cassette (1994)

    d. Korg D16 16 track digital (2002)

    e. Reason/Cubase on PC (2005)

    f. Logic (2010)

    g. Ableton (2012)

    h. IOS (2013 - now)

    Edit: I've tried being a one man band many times but being and playing music in a band is infinitely more fun.

  • Well, I suppose I have a different story as I am only 20 years of age.

    I started my degree 2 years ago at the Academy of Contemporary Music as a Vocal Performance student (of which I've finished now) and the Christmas that I started, my parents got me an iPad Air 2. I did have an iPad 1 before, but I never realised the capabilities until this new iPad.

    It was originally meant to be a work tool, for note taking and writing as well as game apps, but Garageband... and then Auria Pro, Cubasis... and Launchpad apps...

    It then became the focus of my dissertation and practical project and to this day, it is my primary and almost only source of music making!

    Also, I play Alto Sax.

  • Late 60s, early 70s I taught myself to play chords on an acoustic guitar.
    Was part of an acoustic duo for a while.

    Did some experiments with songwriting and 2 tape machines overdub.

    Mid-70s a distant relative who was performing at a wedding showed me a couple of blues licks and Blues Scale and

    I got an electric guitar (something called a Commodore, I think). I formed a band and we played mainly Uriah Heep covers and a couple of my songs (and of the guys built his own synth).

    Got a better electric guitar (Les Paul copy) and did a wider variety of covers.

    When I started working I saved up for an ARP Odyssey (mk1) and also got an Akai 4000DS Sound-on-Sound reel-to-reel and started composing recording a mixture of rack and electronic music.

    Then formed a new band in the early 80s doing our own songs (we were compared to OMD in the local press!)

    Got an Amstrad CPC464 for which I bought an add-on drum machine (Amdrum for which you could load in sampled kits from the built-in cassette player)

    The band evolved into a more dance/funk electronic band and we got some time in a studio where they had an Atari midi setup and even an early midi guitar. So soon after I got an Atari 1040ST and the DAW that they were using in the studio (it was called EditTrack). We used that to create backing tracks which we played on the Akai 4000-DS while we played synths and guitars (by then we had a Korg MS-10 as well as my ARP Odyssey and a little Casio VL-1 Synth/Calculator.

    Eventually moved to PC (bad move as the Atari software was way easier to use at that time). With the help of Computer Music magazine I built up an array of VST instruments and effects and a free DAW that was easier to use. Continued with that for a few years.

    Got an iPad 2 after hearing Amplitube and thinking it would be easier to carry an iPad around then a big guitar amp.

    I do have Reaper and a version of Cubase Lite on my PC now bit rarely use it as I now prefer Cubasis on my iPad Air 2 (still got my iPad 2 as well). Since starting with iPad I have been really happy with the ease of creating music I could only dream of creating years ago and even getting regular airplay on several internet (and occasional FM) radio stations. Love the ability to connect and collaborate with other musicians such as Doug but many others too, as well as continuing with solo stuff!

    I do miss playing with a live band though. I did play with another covers band for 5 years or so which was great fun but not been in a band for the past couple of years. Then again I haven't really had time! :smile:

  • Loopy and livefx to substitute my hardware sp555...
    Later drop the mac mini with Traktor and Mainstage to go full iOS.

    There is more background but is boring to talk about it...

  • I got the iPad 2 fresh out of high school in 2011 because I wanted to draw and mess around with silly beats to play to my friends. I fell in love with the few apps I had and never really got hardware or into computer stuff. I got a beat pad and an old sampler for some reason but that was when I broke my original iPad and went sad and dark for a while. The tax man visited me and I grabbed a pro and iRig keys and now the balance has been restored in life. Now I spend way to much money on apps

  • Also I guess technically I was a drummer in a band like 5 years ago and I have played around with guitars since I was a kid

  • Had 2 track and 4 track reel to reel machines as a kid.
    Started in real world with expensive studio time.
    Went the 4track PortaStudio cassette route.
    Continued paying for expensive studio time.
    Had absolutely no interest in recording on the pc. "Computer? That's for work and porn, not making music!"
    Continued with expensive studio time.
    Acquired Korg 12 track multistudio. Filled it with dozens of semi-completed projects.
    Begrudgingly came into possession of an iPhone. Was tickled by the absurdity of having a mellotron in my pocket. Bought the Mellotron XL app. Then started buying truly useful music apps.
    Started actually using those useful apps.
    Now have dozens of completed projects (have had to set up 5 different SoundCloud accounts for the different genres)
    Not adverse to going back into expensive studios (on someone else's dime), but am quite content with what I can achieve with iOS devices.

  • Been playing guitar since I was 16, and doing electronic stuff since I was about 19 (I'm 42 now). Always liked the idea of getting outside to make music, and first got into portable music making with a Palm TX and Bhajis Loops. Fun, but limiting, though I still had many an enjoyable afternoon squinting at a little screen in a beautiful park somewhere. :)

    When the iPhone came out, it was a no brainer for me to get one just for music apps. While I initially wrote a long of songs start to finish on just the iPhone or iPad, these days it's more of a relaxation thing more than anything else. It's nice to sit on my deck or on a park bench and just have fun with simple ideas and playing with sounds. Good way to keep doing musical things for fun, which can be hard when you do music for a living.

  • I haven't even started yet...

  • As a child I started tapping household items and this eventually led to tapping iOS devices.

  • Grew up on oldies, but listened to hip-hop and punk rock in my youth. Started playing guitar at 12...and fell in love. Eventually raves and music festivals were what we did outside of school. I dabbled with Cakewalk in the early Windows era. Hammerhead by BramBos and Rebirth were my first introduction to drum machines and sequencing. But by age 17 I was in a hippy instrumental jazzfunktechno band. We ended up playing together for 13 years through several lineups, toured the east coast. Electronic music was always just as important to me as live instrumental music was. Fell in love with percussion and played hand drums for another band for 3 years, while playing in my other band. These bands eventually broke up, so I started playing solo acoustic guitar gigs with the very first Boss Loop Station pedal and a Korg Electribe EMX-1. Eventually met my wife through my gigs, she was also a guitar player, classically trained violinist and singer...fell in love got married and played shows together twice a week for 4 years until our daughter was born. Our regular gigs turned into once a month or less obviously lol...although we continue to do weddings too.
    So I was doing the Onemanband type looping shows for years just with my guitar and pedals and beat machine...and then it happened... I was lucky enough to win an iPad Air 2 through my work. I started poking around on the internet and learned that I could purchase an iRig Pro and combine it with the MidiGuitar and Thumbjam apps... I couldn't believe I didnt have to buy a roland system and had Midi Guitar capabilities for under $200. I was hooked. Got a Launchpad Pro and another ipad and learned to hook them up to my existing gear. And now I just keep buying more apps and more gear and more apps and more gear... chasing the ultimate One Man Band show into the sunset. Until it hit me that I really didn't want to do this by myself all the time, so I am currently working on a project with a multi percussionist and a bass player chasing the ultimate electrofunk groove into the sunset... It's been fun, and I would have never found myself musically without the wonderful world of iOS! I just hope this real world doesn't end...

  • Was always into electronic/hiphop music production as a youth
    Messed around with all the software DAWs and MPCs , bought a nice iMac and midi controllers.
    Life took over, and I fell in and out of the hobby over the years
    I got sick and have to be in hospital a lot. I wanted something I could use when in there, so I bought a iPad mini2 randomly instead of getting a laptop.
    Started messing with GArageBand one day with my step brother and that was that.
    Almost four years later and now I have a iPad Pro and am buying new apps every month... just discovered audio units and learning every day...
    Doubt I would of ever picked up a iPad if I had never gotten ill. Now this thing is attached to me at all times

  • I'm a sucker for threads like these. I love hearing about other cats journeys through music (biographies & feature magazine/web articles on well known/famous musicians are the same, their just...more well known), and when gear and setups enter the story it's even better.

    I know the feeling is that this particular forum kinda skews to the 35 and above musician producer but there's a lot of young cats as well, and I love hearing their perspective. Just like I can't imagine growing up with the entire history of mankind in my pocket on a device no bigger than a ZagNut bar, I find it hard to imagine growing up in digitals adolescence. The tech isn't at teleportation or mental control of DAW's yet, but this era post-World War 2 grew so quickly from acetates & twin track analog tape to, in a relatively short period of universal time, the digital wonderland we are in now.

    I hope this thread stays bobbling along the front page for awhile because these are very interesting to go through...

  • edited August 2017

    Left school early and worked long hours in a crappy factory to be able to afford a Korg MS20. Formed band with three other MS20 players and singer. Worked up brilliant electro set and lined up important gig. Singer left, handed gig to other new local band, Depeche Mode or something who got signed.

    Spent the next 10 years with hardware synths, guitars, 4 tracks, reel to reels etc. in a range of bands and recording projects - mostly in the 'extremely weird' category.

    Spent the following ten years doing a bit of that, but also in 'proper' bands who recorded and played more listenable stuff, toured, and played over 1000 gigs.

    Computer software became interesting, and spent a few years working through Fruityloops, Reason, Live, Maschine and then Logic.

    Bought ipad2 solely for the iMS20, lost interest, shelved it for a year until Audiobus and Gadget turned up and made things interesting again. Bought Air 2 and over the next few years nearly every music app going, whilst playing bass and synth in a hippy band.

    Left band due to life exploding.

    Dived in a couple of months back and bought Komplete when it was at a silly low price. Tried Live (free version) and Logic with it, but now settling back into Maschine.

    I've reached the point where I now have an almost perfect setup:

    Maschine on my old Mac laptop (soon to get hard drive update), running various instances of Reaktor, Absynth etc. with the iPad fed in for extra welly, and maybe a bit of live guitar (with Maschine running as a Logic plugin). Everything triggered by my little Korg MIDI keyboard and old Maschine Mikro controller which I'm delighted to discover can work at the same time. I'll also be using BM3 to generate and edit iPad and laptop stuff.

    The above fits in a rucksack, so I can pop around to musical mates, jam and record, and edit into a proper thing later. No more bands, just solo and occasional collaborations planned.

    Just need to get on with it now.

  • edited August 2017

    (Me Mode engaged)

    1980 - Saw an episode of Buck Rogers when I was 5 years old that had people dancing to the music of the future. I already saw Star Wars and knew people could make spaceships look real but the thought of making the music of the future melted my little brain, like you could actually do it; predict what was to come and just make it for real and not out of cardboard. When I was 8 I started programming bleeps and bloops in BASIC and used a tape recorder to mess with my voice. If you held down the play button part way the mechanism wouldn't catch and you would sound like the Chipmunks. Hold play and record just slightly and it slowed it down. Hours of fun annoying parents.

    1987 - At 12 I went for dental surgery in the big city and saw a demo of the Adlib Card running on a PC. My Mom could see I was blown away and bought it for me when I wasn't looking. FM synthesis and a sequencer, best XMas gift ever.

    Was hooked on computer music so I got a part time job in a restaurant and a year later bought an AMIGA. Samples.... lovely, lovely samples. Collecting mods off of BBSes, ripping music from games and sampling VHS tapes was the main feed for building a sample library. When I got to high school I never took the music class, but chatted with the teacher and he let me bring my Amiga on the weekend to sabmple the keyboard they had. Went through every patch and sampled the bits out of it. For my high school graduation year my computer teacher and my art teacher just let me work from home on my own music video. Eventually got a Roland Sound Canvas and midi interface.

    Mid 90s, Amiga died and I went down the PC path getting a DAW I still use today, Samplitude Studio. Streaming audio right off the hard drive, no sample memory limits! I got a Roland analog synth rompler sound module and then a Nord Lead. Played around with this setup, used Audiomulch, got the occasional toy, Tenori-ON etc but mostly just processing and chopping audio from various sources, added Renoise eventually, happy as a clam until...

    About six years ago the company I was at decided to get into mobile apps so we all got an iPod touch to play with. I had a hardware Kaoss Mini pad at home and noticed Korg made an iKaosscilator app... I could not believe what you could do with this little pack of gum in the palm of your hand, plus I just got a mortgage/commute so getting an iPad was a no brainer.

    Trying to integrate iOS was a chaotic roller coaster, cluster fudge of discovery/disappointment, addiction and elation but it totaly settled down when I put a laptop in the mix last year. Ultimately the process seems destined to always change and morph; just a couple weeks ago I thought 'omg I am going to use BM3 in everything now', but nope, at the moment I have next week off so I rearranged my setup so I am just feeding two ipads with Chordflow, Future Drummer and Patterning into Samplitude on the laptop running Massive, Battery, and Obscurrium with Looperator and StutterFX. The ipads are used for sending midi, sketching the melody/key changes. Maybe some Synthscaper soundscapes will show up later, as I love how maliable it is for placing things in the mix but for now all the sounds are from VSTs on the laptop. Nothing too experimental or challenging, just downbeat electro atmospheres to go with my collection of nostalgic 70s scifi illustrations.

Sign In or Register to comment.