Audiobus: Your virtual music studio.

What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

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Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.

The influence of the tools we use to make Music, on the Music we make.

edited September 7 in Off-topic

There's a concept known as "The law of the instrument", otherwise known as "Maslow's hammer", which basically describes a propensity to rely upon familiar tools.

There's an old saying based on it, that goes something like...
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, it's tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail".

I find it interesting to apply this idea to the types of music people make, and I think a fair comparison might be... "If a person's only musical tool is a Beat making app, the music they create will likely take the form of Beats.

As I make my own music using lots of classic synth-type sounds, I enjoy what I create, but if step back and listen objectively, I sometimes think.. "That's sounds like 80's and 90's synth based music". And obviously it should, because I'm essentially making Music using (tools) emulations of 80's and 90's synths.

I think the particular point I'm trying to make. Is that it just might be interesting to experiment with different kinds of sounds and musical ideas in ways that push the boundaries of what we all tend to do similarly with the same types of musical tools.

I think for me, these thoughts resolve to a sort of personal challenge to just be aware of the "The law of the instrument", trying to be more aware, and think about ways to explore new sounds and musical structures. But I also don't want to make noise that isn't fun to listen to either.

Just sort of thinking out loud, and also interested in hearing other opinions. :)

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Comments

  • Good rumination. And fair comment. A nudge to us all....

  • So many choices, we have. Need more skill than one manage alone. This why bands mostly better than individual. Even great singer/songwriter. Example, Leonard Cohen end up sounding much better than at start, when he employ band and backing singers.

  • Perhaps it’s also valid to come from the other direction. What if you hear the sound in your head first and look for the tools that will get you there? I’m a woodworker, so the hammer and nail analogy fits if the box you make can be made with nails. But when you conceive of joints without nails, you have to hunt for new tools. And just as the search for new woodworking tools gets expensive, so can the search for a synth that produces the sound you hear in your head. But the concept to realization method, regardless of the cost, introduces you to new things, and also pushes you deeper into the synths you have. I have an example. I’m on a quest for sweeping, interesting generative music. I almost think I can hear it. I’ve heard demos of SynthScaper that give me the urge to learn much more about its internals.

    I think there may be two groups of us. Perhaps the group you describe makes more music, but the music has less variety. The group I describe makes much less music because they spend a lot of time on the quest, and not as much on finishing a song. But the music they do make is wild and crazy.

    I was listening to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring while driving the other day and thinking how much more I liked Stravinsky than Mozart. You can count Stravinsky’s works, but I seriously doubt anyone knows how many works Mozart completed. I just don’t feel Mozart was a risk-taker. He stuck with the tools at hand. At least to me, I think Stravinsky was searching for something.

    Pardon my rambling. I’m just sharing my thoughts in response to your post. :smile:

  • I think the main issue isn't the instrument, but the genre. Look at the guitar: Django Reinhardt sounds nothing Jimi Hendrix, but they both played the same instrument.

    I think most of us are too unimaginative to break out of the genres which influence us, so we tend to rehash ideas that have come before. For example why use a squelchy TB303 lead line, or a trap high-hat? These sounds have been done a million times before, yet they're still popular, because people working in the genres that use them keep repeating them, like a ritual.

    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

  • For example why use a squelchy TB303 lead line, or a trap high-hat? These sounds have been done a million times before, yet they're still popular, because people working in the genres that use them keep repeating them, like a ritual.

    All music stuff, how people perceive music (but also how composers/creators are making music) originates in how brain works. What brain perceives as "interesting" (eg. releases dopamine)

    Patterns.

    Beain learn patterns, sequences, sound types - and then he is simply searching matches in incoming data from sensory inputs (ears in this case)

    If it matches, if beain identifies some known patterns (they don't need to be obvious at first look), then he marks music as "nice".

    99% of music we make is just compiling/reusing/combining previously learned patterns (often uncondcioudly)

    This is not bad thing - there is vast number of hiw thise patterns can be combined to form new patterns - here comes into game creativity (eg. frontal cortex). How much brain uses this part, and how much he just reuses learned oatterns, defines how much is author creative.

    As Jimmy Page said
    "Musician is sum if his influences"

    I would add - this sum creates set which contsins more elements than individusl subsets.

    1+1 = 3

  • @richardyot said:
    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

    Such people already making music. Not getting played on radio. Not promoted by big company. System intended to reduce variable, so Max Martin and clones do same over and over and over. )-:

  • A lot of people seem to think everything they use is a hammer.

  • Some good thoughts.. I add mine...
    My wife has been using watercolors to paint graphic images of dogs. As one might use acrylics. To her there is a problem (yet she chose the medium and subject)... not how watercolors should be used, she struggles rather than embraces. I applaud her iconoclastic endeavor.

    I used Fugue Machine to make a track that was not a fugue. I employed FM as a compositional tool. Why not take the tools one is familiar with and re-envision them. After all, a hammer makes a very good paperweight.

    @motmeister, I like your comments, but not sure Mozart was not pushing the envelope and, hence, a risk taker. Taking a chance in the 18th century was probably quite different than in the 20th. I mean, he was the first to suggest opera could be great in German. At least he was the first to be recognized for it.. and we still love Don Giovanni today. Not sure how Stravinsky will fare after 250 years, groundbreaking tho it was. (There is a great YouTube movie about the production of Rite of Spring, btw. Focuses on Diaghilev, but Igor is in there).

  • Try locking orientation, then use your favourite tools upside down for a new take😎

  • @richardyot said:
    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

    I think at a certain point genres calcify and become what they are based on public/mass association. There was that late 60s/70s every sound and the kitchen sync dogpile phase which was explored but when the dust settled it became clear that if you switch up rock too much then you are no longer making rock. In that particular case it seems more like folk music now in that it is very much about nodding to the traditions and legacy of guitar, drums and bass.

  • edited September 7

    @richardyot said:
    I think the main issue isn't the instrument, but the genre. Look at the guitar: Django Reinhardt sounds nothing Jimi Hendrix, but they both played the same instrument.

    I think most of us are too unimaginative to break out of the genres which influence us, so we tend to rehash ideas that have come before. For example why use a squelchy TB303 lead line, or a trap high-hat? These sounds have been done a million times before, yet they're still popular, because people working in the genres that use them keep repeating them, like a ritual.

    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

    I could have written this, so of course I think it's well stated! But I've become a believer in the creative power of constraints. The iPad offers up a mind boggling number of sounds. Pick three that you've never used and perhaps wouldn't normally use and make them into something that you dig. Don't use more than three though--resample and use effects to liven things up. Make a song using only sounds you find around your living space. I guarantee that at the end of the process that you'll have something that will make your ears say "aaaahhhh, that's interesting".

  • After all, a hammer makes a very good paperweight.

    Music tool also like hammer of Thor: If user not worthy, cannot wield.

  • @lukesleepwalker said:

    @richardyot said:
    I think the main issue isn't the instrument, but the genre. Look at the guitar: Django Reinhardt sounds nothing Jimi Hendrix, but they both played the same instrument.

    I think most of us are too unimaginative to break out of the genres which influence us, so we tend to rehash ideas that have come before. For example why use a squelchy TB303 lead line, or a trap high-hat? These sounds have been done a million times before, yet they're still popular, because people working in the genres that use them keep repeating them, like a ritual.

    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

    I could have written this, so of course I think it's well stated! But I've become a believer in the creative power of constraints. The iPad offers up a mind boggling number of sounds. Pick three that you've never used and perhaps wouldn't normally use and make them into something that you dig. Don't use more than three though--resample and use effects to liven things up. Make a song using only sounds you find around your living space. I guarantee that at the end of the process that you'll have something that will make your ears say "aaaahhhh, that's interesting".

    I like the idea of using found sounds, and it's something I'm incorporating more and more in my own music, I think (for me at least) the balancing act is to meld the weird and new with something that's also melodic. It's very easy to make weird noisy tracks that don't have much in the way of purpose (or indeed listener engagement). The trick I think is to mix the weird and new with something beautiful as well, so that it's engaging as well as fresh sounding.

    To use a somewhat cheesy metaphor that I adapted ages ago in another thread: the job of the artist is to go out into the unknown, and then come back with some strange and beautiful thing that no-one's ever seen (or heard) before.

    To do that successfully though, you have to avoid clichés.

  • @richardyot yes to all that! I also think it helps to use some familiar elements juxtaposed with jarring or unexpected elements. My wife is a great evaluator of these things. If there isn't something she can "hold on to" while being challenged with something unexpected in a tune she just tunes it all out--and thereby misses what I'm communicating.

  • @lukesleepwalker said:
    @richardyot yes to all that! I also think it helps to use some familiar elements juxtaposed with jarring or unexpected elements. My wife is a great evaluator of these things. If there isn't something she can "hold on to" while being challenged with something unexpected in a tune she just tunes it all out--and thereby misses what I'm communicating.

    Agree with much of what you're driving at. Especially constraints. Miles D. and the 'only play the sweet notes' thing (and about 50 variations on that theme, especially those relating to having to learn what to leave out....)...I am still often stuck at the seduction of being able to play facsimiles of so may great sounds/noises right here on the little machine that the artist inside has to fight his way to the front to have his say etc.

  • edited September 7

    @richardyot said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:

    @richardyot said:
    I think the main issue isn't the instrument, but the genre. Look at the guitar: Django Reinhardt sounds nothing Jimi Hendrix, but they both played the same instrument.

    I think most of us are too unimaginative to break out of the genres which influence us, so we tend to rehash ideas that have come before. For example why use a squelchy TB303 lead line, or a trap high-hat? These sounds have been done a million times before, yet they're still popular, because people working in the genres that use them keep repeating them, like a ritual.

    I think this is also one of the reasons that rock music is struggling these days, people are just tired of hearing the same old sounds (guitar, drums, bass), it sounds stale now, and will until someone comes along and changes things up.

    I could have written this, so of course I think it's well stated! But I've become a believer in the creative power of constraints. The iPad offers up a mind boggling number of sounds. Pick three that you've never used and perhaps wouldn't normally use and make them into something that you dig. Don't use more than three though--resample and use effects to liven things up. Make a song using only sounds you find around your living space. I guarantee that at the end of the process that you'll have something that will make your ears say "aaaahhhh, that's interesting".

    I like the idea of using found sounds, and it's something I'm incorporating more and more in my own music, I think (for me at least) the balancing act is to meld the weird and new with something that's also melodic. It's very easy to make weird noisy tracks that don't have much in the way of purpose (or indeed listener engagement). The trick I think is to mix the weird and new with something beautiful as well, so that it's engaging as well as fresh sounding.

    To use a somewhat cheesy metaphor that I adapted ages ago in another thread: the job of the artist is to go out into the unknown, and then come back with some strange and beautiful thing that no-one's ever seen (or heard) before.

    To do that successfully though, you have to avoid clichés.

    I also think about combining interesting new sounds together with traditional "familiar" instruments.

    This area of thought always leads me into exploring questions about....
    "What is it about Music, that makes it Music" ?
    "What makes Music appealing" ?

    I think the known "music theory" foundation that Music is rhythm and harmonic ratios may be universally necessary. I'm not sure it's possible to get too far away from that fundamental structure, and still have something that Most people would call "Music".

    I think the most profound element of Music is the Human Voice. I believe the Human voice is the most emotionally expressive instrument of all.

    To the best of my knowledge I think all genres of music are based on "styles of combining" of rhythms, harmonic ratios, and the Human voice.

    If I'm correct, then I think the challenge of developing new musical styles of expression, must begin by first understanding the structure of at least some the musical styles that already exist.

    I'm also very interested in a theory that the mind interprets musical instrument (sounds) using the same part of the brain that interprets spoken language.

    Example:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_music#Music_and_language
    "Certain aspects of language and melody have been shown to be processed in near identical functional brain areas. Brown, Martinez and Parsons (2006) examined the neurological structural similarities between music and language. Utilizing positron emission tomography (PET), the findings showed that both linguistic and melodic phrases produced activation in almost identical functional brain areas."

    So I think it's a neat idea that music is actually a language as far as the brain is concerned. Which explains why music can be so powerful in provoking an emotional responses in the mind of the listener, and also may explain why people have combined vocals with music back in time to the beginning of known musical history. Rhythm may the most primordial component of all, as it's believed that the fetus develops in their Mother's womb hearing their mother's heart beat until birth.

    https://aleteia.org/2018/11/02/do-children-remember-being-in-their-mothers-womb/
    "Have you ever wondered if your children remember some of the time they spent in your womb? Among other things, they remember the sound of their mother’s heartbeat. In an experiment, mothers left their children alone in a room, and the children felt uneasy and afraid. But then, through loudspeakers, they heard the sound of their mother’s heart – the mother was in the next room — and immediately the children calmed down and even smiled."

    I think knowledge of some of these scientific ideas might be helpful for some individuals to think about as they compose music.

    One of my interests is the development is artificial vocal generation. I think that may be involved in one of the next "frontiers" of musical creativity.

  • What’s wrong with rock music????

    In all seriousness I do think instruments matter. I grew up learning piano and guitar, and so I will be inclined to recreate what I have heard through those instruments.

    iOS and the wide array of apps HAS pushed me out of my comfort zone to try using other sounds and incorporating new “instruments” into how I write.

    I am a firm believer in the “boundaries” thing. Freedom isn’t about complete independence or to do whatever we want whenever we want. It’s about the pursuit of an ideal, and finding the means to do so without hindrance.

    Setting this in music, I think when I open up any app and start playing around it all sounds funky and weird and cool but I haven’t put my mind to creating a song or an end goal. The noodling for the sake of noodling is fun but there is rarely any sort of order in the chaos.

    When I set out to write a song on a given topic, or say, for example, a sci-fi type soundtrack, then I can still “noodle” but with a goal in mind. And it is much more limited because then there is a basis for what works and what doesn’t. So that I can find the beautiful.

  • edited September 7

    I definitely play off of influences but tend not to think of them at all while making stuff. I keep it fuzzy and not about nodding to or begging genre teams for acceptance. A small handful of times in my life I tried to make something to fit within a genre but would quickly remember, oh yah I hate sports and groups, fuck all that shit.

    So yah as for tools it is all about what is convenient and most accessible for me. What can I do most often and most flexibly in terms of just maintaining the sense of a creative lifestyle. If it feels like work it won’t stick with me.

  • wimwim
    edited September 7

    I was thinking about all this (in the shower of all places) with the realization that I rarely express anything deep with the music I make any more. I just have fun. A lot.

    There was a good thread that @u0421793 started at least a year ago - something about iPad music being the Album of today. The gist of what I realized from that thread was that get a kick (no pun intended) out of being able to create some semblance of the music that consumed me in my youth. Those seemingly unattainable dreams of what it would be like to be able to actually make music like that. The hours I used to spend listening to others have become hours of playing, being tickled pink that I can now get in the ballpark. With a few exceptions, I don’t have nearly the fun listening any more as I do creating.

    So ... I’m not expressing myself so much as ... gratifying myself? I dunno. In some ways I don’t care. But this thread does make me want to take some time to drop all of that, grab my guitar, and get some extended alone time to try to re-awaken the expressive/emotional side. I kinda miss that feeling, while at the same time, enjoying the hell out of the rest of the (shallow?) time.

    Ahh ... so many ways to have fun! B)

  • To push the boundaries i think you need to study music and understand what the language of music is. Music theory, in many ways a instrument is a machine to help you explore this language. The human voice is incredible but it can’t create harmony on it own. Instruments that enable harmony have helped individuals push boundaries in music.

  • @TrevorLlewellyn said:
    To push the boundaries i think you need to study music and understand what the language of music is. Music theory, in many ways a instrument is a machine to help you explore this language. The human voice is incredible but it can’t create harmony on it own. Instruments that enable harmony have helped individuals push boundaries in music.

    I like that thought.

    It inspired a vision in my mind of a group of neolithic hunter gathers all shouting at the same time "LION" LION".
    The young, the old, the men, and the women, each would have voices of a different pitch, as they all shouted "LION" in unison.
    The result would be a sort of a harmony.

    From there.. hypothesize that the human mind is wired to pay close attention to a number of different voices all shouting the same thing. Because if everyone is shouting the same thing, it must be important.

    Thus the seed of harmony was created in the human mind. And as peoples and cultures evolved, that propensity for a harmony of voices to have a greater meaning than the solitary voice, evolved into things like group chanting, singing in religious ceremonies, and rituals where all the participants all recited something important to them in unison...etc...

    At some point Mankind discovered that when musical instruments accompanied the human voice, it achieved the same attention gathering effect as did a chorus of voices. Stories set to song became more memorable, and were used to pass down cultural values, tales of heroic deeds, myths, and legends. For example, the story of Troy (from Homer's Iliad) is sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilium.

    Oral storytelling developed into a tradition of setting story to song, such as those sung by traveling medieval troubadours and minstrels. Music made an excellent vehicle for remembering important tales and stories in times when illiteracy was common.

  • In linguistic circles there’s thought that spoken languages originated from the click languages in various parts of Africa. There’s also thought that any verbal language at all originated from singing. That is, the theory is that singing tunes came first, then segments of the singing became codified to be meaningful units of sound in various ways, those in turn became what we now regard as words.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan_languages

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/504c/db061532a6943baf61ab91b51c09e39049b3.pdf

  • @u0421793 said:
    In linguistic circles there’s thought that spoken languages originated from the click languages in various parts of Africa. There’s also thought that any verbal language at all originated from singing. That is, the theory is that singing tunes came first, then segments of the singing became codified to be meaningful units of sound in various ways, those in turn became what we now regard as words.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan_languages

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/504c/db061532a6943baf61ab91b51c09e39049b3.pdf

    More likely the origins of human language came from grunting, calling out and screaming.

  • @TrevorLlewellyn said:

    @u0421793 said:
    In linguistic circles there’s thought that spoken languages originated from the click languages in various parts of Africa. There’s also thought that any verbal language at all originated from singing. That is, the theory is that singing tunes came first, then segments of the singing became codified to be meaningful units of sound in various ways, those in turn became what we now regard as words.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan_languages

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/504c/db061532a6943baf61ab91b51c09e39049b3.pdf

    More likely the origins of human language came from grunting, calling out and screaming.

    So a bit like the Brexit debate, then....

  • @purpan2 said:

    @TrevorLlewellyn said:

    @u0421793 said:
    In linguistic circles there’s thought that spoken languages originated from the click languages in various parts of Africa. There’s also thought that any verbal language at all originated from singing. That is, the theory is that singing tunes came first, then segments of the singing became codified to be meaningful units of sound in various ways, those in turn became what we now regard as words.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan_languages

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/504c/db061532a6943baf61ab91b51c09e39049b3.pdf

    More likely the origins of human language came from grunting, calling out and screaming.

    So a bit like the Brexit debate, then....

    😂

  • I'm seeing my iPad as a nail... do not be alarmed:
    I can never find the hammer when I need it.

  • I find my inspiration in less complex apps and devices :)
    Need to dig out the the PS-3 from the attic and see if it still works...

  • edited September 8

    This was probably the biggest part of the learning curve for me switching in the last year to more electronic music.

    I played rock, folk, classical, jazz for decades. I can play guitar and bass well, keys decently, drums, mandolin, banjo, cello, and a few others competently.

    But all the first attempts at electronic drums and bass parts just sounded like synths and samples imitating a real bass player and drummer.

    A bit less with bass, because I had often used a lot of effects on bass, but very much with drums, I was only designing sounds that mimicked a real drum set.

    The beats also, I fought with myself to get in the space where I could ignore what was possible for me to do as a drummer.

  • @u0421793 said:
    In linguistic circles there’s thought that spoken languages originated from the click languages in various parts of Africa. There’s also thought that any verbal language at all originated from singing. That is, the theory is that singing tunes came first, then segments of the singing became codified to be meaningful units of sound in various ways, those in turn became what we now regard as words.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan_languages

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/504c/db061532a6943baf61ab91b51c09e39049b3.pdf

    I thought the paper about The Singing Neanderthals was really interesting, thanks for posting the link!

    I especially like the section that describes how modern Mother's communicate with their babies using melodic speech and singing. That makes sense to me, because if an infant can't yet understand words, they can understand the emotions conveyed in songs. The first sounds of an infant child are also melodic vocalizations. I don't think it's that far fetched to consider that melodic vocalization may have predated spoken words in the evolution of language.

  • @Multicellular said:
    This was probably the biggest part of the learning curve for me switching in the last year to more electronic music.

    I played rock, folk, classical, jazz for decades. I can play guitar and bass well, keys decently, drums, mandolin, banjo, cello, and a few others competently.

    But all the first attempts at electronic drums and bass parts just sounded like synths and samples imitating a real bass player and drummer.

    A bit less with bass, because I had often used a lot of effects on bass, but very much with drums, I was only designing sounds that mimicked a real drum set.

    The beats also, I fought with myself to get in the space where I could ignore what was possible for me to do as a drummer.

    Cool!
    I think expanding awareness past the familiar is what it takes to discover something new.

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