Secrets of the IOS Masters @ScottVanZandt and Nanostudio2 (No AUv3 instruments)
@ScottVanZandt released a ground-breaking project created with Nanostudio 2 in May of 2019.
On SoundCloud he wrote this about the music track:
Composed entirely on iPad Pro in NanoStudio 2 using custom Obsidian patches created by sampling instruments from the expansion packs of various iOS apps such as Beathawk, iSymphonic, Garageband, Sampletank and Korg Module.
Concept MusicFantasyDarkLightGame MusicFilm Score
Listen to a bit to get the impact of what follows and how it was prepared with weeks of sampling work.
I reached out to Scott for more details about his process and he shared a lot of information and has allowed me to post this thread about his approach.
ME: Can describe the workflow you used to make your NS2 Obsidian samples from iSymphonic and such?
Scott: I spent almost a month sampling all these instruments, not even sure how stable it work in the end, but at 41 tracks in NS2 and the CPU was only at 30% usage, so this method beats the hell out of AUv3, for this style of music that is. Synth apps don’t seem to be too much of a problem loading as Audio Units, but iSymphonic and Beathawk, you’re lucky if you can get 3-4 instances of them running simultaneously before crashing. Having the instruments sampled instead and ready for immediate use is so liberating. And you get so much more control over the sound once it’s in Obsidian.
I record one long audio file by sequencing 4 notes per octave using Korg Gadget Taipei as the sequencer, and record into AudioShare. For example, C1, D#1, F#1, A1, C2, D#2 etc all the way up to A6, or the highest note that will produce sound. I make each note play around 30 seconds, that way you don't have to worry about creating loop points later on which is really hard to get right and will never sound very good in my opinion. Be sure to leave plenty of silence between each note. I like to transfer these long audio files to my iPhone and do the splicing there, throughout the day. It's extremely tedious and time consuming, so I do it when I'm on the bus to and from work, waiting in line at the grocery store, when I need a few minutes to break from work. I have a short attention span, so I spread it out into small chunks. Each file needs to be named like this: ExpressiveViolin C1, ExpressiveViolin D#1, etc. No spacing in the instrument name followed by one space, then the note name and octave.
All of these individual notes once ready, need to go into a folder and it must be a zip file. You can zip it in Audio Share. Once you are in NanoStudio 2, hit the plus sign to create a new Obsidian Track. Open up Obsidian and click Edit. In the top left where it says Type, change the type from Analog to Sample. Tap on VOICE in that same window and change the Polyphony from 4 to 16. Go back to OSC 1 and click Automap Samples. Tap the 3 dots and click import. You can import from Audioshare, or Dropbox in my case. If from Dropbox, just just click the Zip file and it will switch back to the NanoStudio App and say Success. Double click the folder and then double tap on any note in the folder, might as well be the first one on the top. There, all of the notes are automapped. Underneath the tiny keyboard where it lists the note names, click on the first note. Click the wrench icon above the tiny keyboard. Tap Set sample loop, and be sure it's switched to Off. Then, I like to click on PERFORM in the left menu and turn the Release knob up to around 40% so it's not so harsh sounding. Then if you want, you can click MOD/FX and Turn on the Reverb - I like Plate 2. Be sure to click on PATCH in the left menu, click the 3 horizontal lines in the top right (hamburger button), and Save As. Note, I usually end up turning the reverb off at some point and applying reverb to the actual track and not the sample. You get more control options like Dry and Wet. It's just nice having the reverb setup at the patch level for the initial stages of composing so it sounds closer to what it will sound like in the end.
Oh, and if you want 3 velocity layers, which is what I did for my Timpani, you have to do the process 3 times. For OSC 1, 2, and 3. Just use your ears to figure out how many layers the instrument has. Some only have 2, some have several (like pianos), so you should figure out when 3 velocity levels will work best. You can them make adjustments to the velocity levels that trigger the different samples per note. Most of my sustained string, brass, and woodwind samples were just one layer thankfully
Oh sure, you're welcome to share my process. Feel free to reword or reorganize how you see fit. I can be a bit scatter-brained, haha. Just recently I've created a few patches using samples I took from Pure Synth Platinum. There are some really nice ones in there. Sometimes when I run out of ideas, it's nice to just keep adding to my Obsidian instrument library for future use. The clarinet, oboe, and brass ensemble from Garageband are really nice sounding to me. I found a really nice solo flute in Music Studio called Flute Vibrato - just added that one yesterday - not sure if that one came from the expansion pack or the original sounds included with the DAW. The french horns I use are from Miroslav - I think they sound better than the ones in iSymphonic. Strings from iSymphonic Corda pack are really good, and so are the strings in Korg Module orchestral dreams.