Audiobus: Use your music apps together.

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.

Download on the App Store

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

StaffPad for an orchestral beginner ??

Hi all, ive been getting pretty heavy into orchestral / hybrid trailer cinematic sound design. Thus far i have just been doing it the old fashioned way, playing in chords and leads as midi, as i know absolutely NOTHING about writing or reading music.

Will StaffPad help me to take my cinematic compositions to the next level? Does it help you learn composing in the traditional sense? Do I need some prior knowledge? etc etc. any and all feedback on the app or other tool suggestions greatly appreciated. Desktop or iOS.

«13

Comments

  • It’s just a different visual representation of the music, the analog analogue of a multi-channel midi timeline.

  • Dorico is free and should suit your purposes.

  • I don't see how notation software can help you better learn composing any more than a blue ink pen can improve your writing skills better than a black one.

    That said, learning how music is represented on a staff can help you to understand music better, and the more you understand the components, the better you understand the language (of music). That can be good or bad. It's good if the understanding unlocks insights that increase your creative palette. It's bad if it overwhelms your instinctive sense and you focus too much on the technical side.

    Staff notation is a highly technical representation of what you hear. Everything needs to be broken down into mathematical bits in order to be represented. So, in that sense, it's a creativity limiter. You can only go so far with staff notation.

    Everyone should try learning staff notation, IMO. But no, it's not something that's necessarily going to make you a better composer. In fact, it could end up being simply a distraction. Which software you use to produce notation shouldn't make too much of a difference as long as it works well and isn't too frustrating to learn and use.

    IMO, a more direct path to improving your compositional skill is to begin with study of music theory, harmony, etc. Focusing on theory is like studying literature. Focusing on staff notation is like studying calligraphy.

  • @shinyisshiny said:
    Hi all, ive been getting pretty heavy into orchestral / hybrid trailer cinematic sound design. Thus far i have just been doing it the old fashioned way, playing in chords and leads as midi, as i know absolutely NOTHING about writing or reading music.

    Importing MIDI files into Staffpad is an option. Every import creates a new project so building up larger
    compositions requires "cut and paste" of notes between projects.

    Importing large MIDI files causes StaffPad to crash, in my experience.

    Will StaffPad help me to take my cinematic compositions to the next level?

    Yes. There are many YouTube videos to help you progress. I think "Gh0stwrit3r" is the best teacher to take you into the world of music composition:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiXR-psBd7-92pzmIjbyoPA

    Does it help you learn composing in the traditional sense?

    It's an app designed for people that compose in the traditional sense. You'll have to educate yourself
    to use it well but the results speak for themselves.

    Do I need some prior knowledge? etc etc. any and all feedback on the app or other tool suggestions greatly appreciated. Desktop or iOS.

    Start with Gh0stwrit3r's videos and update us here on your progress or with additional questions.

  • Again, you can import midi with Dorico. StaffPad is what, $90?

  • wimwim
    edited October 15

    I didn't realize it was so expensive. I take back what I said earlier. If it costs that much then surely it will take anyone's compositional skills to the next level.

  • @wim said:
    I didn't realize it was so expensive. I take back what I said earlier. If it costs that much then surely it will take anyone's compositional skills to the next level.

    :D too good.

  • thanks all for the feedback and info.

  • @shinyisshiny said:
    Hi all, ive been getting pretty heavy into orchestral / hybrid trailer cinematic sound design. Thus far i have just been doing it the old fashioned way, playing in chords and leads as midi, as i know absolutely NOTHING about writing or reading music.

    Will StaffPad help me to take my cinematic compositions to the next level? Does it help you learn composing in the traditional sense? Do I need some prior knowledge? etc etc. any and all feedback on the app or other tool suggestions greatly appreciated. Desktop or iOS.

    You don't need staffPad for that. More important is to understand the role of each instrument in the orchestra, the technical aspect/limitation of each (because this can help to make it sound more realism), the voicing/spacing of the texture, and the understanding that there will be more polyphonic texture in orchestral writing. I think that, for most musicians coming from pop/rock backgrounds, the above perspectives are their weakest link to become a good orchestrator. So, if you fill in these things, you can write a better orchestral piece. For tools, just a keyboard (or guitar, if you're a guitarist) and the staff paper are enough. Any notation software should be fine. You can write using only 4 staves in a short score form, marking any instruments as needed, then expand it to a full orch score later.

  • @Artj said:

    @shinyisshiny said:
    Hi all, ive been getting pretty heavy into orchestral / hybrid trailer cinematic sound design. Thus far i have just been doing it the old fashioned way, playing in chords and leads as midi, as i know absolutely NOTHING about writing or reading music.

    Will StaffPad help me to take my cinematic compositions to the next level? Does it help you learn composing in the traditional sense? Do I need some prior knowledge? etc etc. any and all feedback on the app or other tool suggestions greatly appreciated. Desktop or iOS.

    You don't need staffPad for that. More important is to understand the role of each instrument in the orchestra, the technical aspect/limitation of each (because this can help to make it sound more realism), the voicing/spacing of the texture, and the understanding that there will be more polyphonic texture in orchestral writing. I think that, for most musicians coming from pop/rock backgrounds, the above perspectives are their weakest link to become a good orchestrator. So, if you fill in these things, you can write a better orchestral piece. For tools, just a keyboard (or guitar, if you're a guitarist) and the staff paper are enough. Any notation software should be fine. You can write using only 4 staves in a short score form, marking any instruments as needed, then expand it to a full orch score later.

    Good essential advice here. Understanding music notation, orchestration principles, and even conducting principles is worth the effort. Also acquiring a decent score to analyze.

    I used the above with Cakewalk/Sonar and a number of hardware midi modules to do this kind of thing many years ago.

    Staffpad is likely capable of handling the Rite Of Spring if one spends the extra $$$ on its extra IAP library’s.
    I have Staffpad and am still learning it. I still prefer to use MultiTrackStudio and midi at this time on the iPad.

  • The short answer is “no”, or at least it will have minimal impact on its own.

    If you want to improve your ability to read and write music, start studying - there is no shortcut to learning these skills, and there are plenty of free resources to do so all over the Internet.

  • McDMcD
    edited October 15

    @LinearLineman said:
    Again, you can import midi with Dorico. StaffPad is what, $90?

    Just be aware that imports of large MIDI files crash StaffPad... I haven't tested Dorico
    but I have tried Piano Motifs imports longer than 16 bars and been frustrated with this
    as a workflow.

    StaffPad focuses it's effort on the handwriting and a future version/update will allow
    realtime MIDI controller input to rendered notation.

    I have seen some details about cut and paste of notes between apps but have not had
    a notation app that I prefer using for input to test that.

    With practice, handwritten input is better than the usual touch or mouse based input methods.

    Staffpad is $90 with a complete sound library so it's like a $50 sound library with a $40 DAW
    based on handwriting over piano roll data entry. The rendering of StaffPad is better than
    any other IOS DAW since it switches between articulations (Staccato, Marcato, Legato, etc)
    by notation. To mix those articulation in Cubasis you'd have to jump between multiple tracks
    with each assigned an instrument with a different articulation sound file. Users of Cubasis now that
    multiple heavy weight sound file AUv3 instruments will crash the app.

    If you want to do very detailed film music in the tradition of John Williams on IOS there is no
    other option. If you are OK with less control then you can pass on the pencil and work within the limits
    of the iSymphonic library and (believe me) spend a lot more than $90 on sounds alone and still
    be missing a lot of essential orchestral instruments and articulations.

    Now, to be fair the standard StaffPad sound library does not have a ton of articulations and you will
    quickly start drooling over the CineSamples, Berlin Orchestra and Spitfire Audio products that are
    sold in the StaffPad Store for $99 each. So, someone interested in the most complete set of controls will
    spend well over $500.

    Following the journey of Scott Van Zandt (@ScottVanZandt) with IOS solutions is pretty enlightening:

    STAFFPAD Composition

    Scott wrote on this forum (he has since removed all his threads):

    This app [StaffPad] is really impressive to me. I’ve been trying to create decent sounding orchestral music on iOS for years and now I finally can. Here’s my first attempt with this program. I used all Cinesamples libraries for this one, and the composition process was mostly glitch-free. I'm actually surprised at how well it it all works.

  • edited October 15

    IMO, someone just starting out, who knows nothing of notation, would be better served experimenting on a free app and then make the investment if it is the logical next step. Doric can import midi recording without much difficulty. For a piano track, like any notation app, you will need to split it into left and right hands. Here’s an example… before splitting into two stages…

  • StaffPad has the best sound libraries, and a "rendering method" that allows it to play more voices than other DAWs currently can. So the experience you're looking for, is mostly what you'll get.

    But the handwriting system is not excellent at interpreting your gestures, so the free options might be better for learning notation. I bought it to brush up on notation and compose some epic scores, but now I plan to do those separately, because I care about a very fast workflow...more than most.

    StaffPad will ask you to re-write some notes, and you'll think "It's obvious what I meant" and I noticed myself repeatedly toggling between two menus to access functions that could have been placed next to each other. Also, why can't I just tap to place a note or rest, of a currently-selected length? There's a lot of "handwriting instead" instead of "handwriting because it's more natural".

    I'm a harsh critic when it comes to UI design, and I still mainly use StaffPad, because it's the best way to achieve a good quality orchestral sound. @McD has composed some good stuff with it; definitely part of what convinced me to buy it.

  • @Skyblazer said:
    @McD has composed some good stuff with it; definitely part of what convinced me to buy it.

    Thanks... truth be told I've only created one piece I'm proud of. It was done in an epic all nighter
    that threw off my sleep cycle for days after. But it's the one piece I've shared with my wife and kids that
    impressed them. Anything that sounds like film music tends to impress.

    People that create with StaffPad tend to have a very solid work ethic... I still play around in AUM as a general use of my iPad because I get results in minutes and not hours.

  • @McD said:

    @Skyblazer said:
    @McD has composed some good stuff with it; definitely part of what convinced me to buy it.

    Thanks... truth be told I've only created one piece I'm proud of. It was done in an epic all nighter
    that threw off my sleep cycle for days after. But it's the one piece I've shared with my wife and kids that
    impressed them. Anything that sounds like film music tends to impress.

    Don't leave us hanging like that. Post a link!

  • McDMcD
    edited October 16

    @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:
    Don't leave us hanging like that. Post a link!

    Twist my arm...

    Here's the Staffpad piece used as the sound track for a parody conspiracy video
    showing pulsing chemtrail streaks over the pacific. HINT: There's a sheet of glass
    and a a trick with the phasing between the video frame rate and the 60Hz pulsing of florescent lights involved in the "conspriracy" of alien artifacts. Most alien space videos
    reply on camera technology side effects to create objects which are not what they appear in the rear view mirror.

  • edited October 16

    @McD said:

    @Skyblazer said:
    @McD has composed some good stuff with it; definitely part of what convinced me to buy it.

    Thanks... truth be told I've only created one piece I'm proud of. It was done in an epic all nighter
    that threw off my sleep cycle for days after. But it's the one piece I've shared with my wife and kids that
    impressed them. Anything that sounds like film music tends to impress.

    People that create with StaffPad tend to have a very solid work ethic... I still play around in AUM as a general use of my iPad because I get results in minutes and not hours.

    That's a good point. Just in case OP has similar goals to me, of impressing a pretty SO who likes heavy epic music, and a classically-trained gentleman...

    I would probably compose with AUM, Korg Module's Piano, SWAM, and either Helium, Reaper w/IDAM, or the LaunchPad Pro MK3.

    Then ideally, I would render it with BBC: SO.

    To learn notation, I would acquire an M-Audio Hammer 88, and a book for learning classical piano songs.

    I think my audience has high expectations, and doesn't plan to lower them, so I could probably get away with using StaffPad, but......I wouldn't think of it like a piano roll that teaches music notation. It's almost there.

  • Either of the top two books in this search willl be a great help in terms of coming to terms with MIDI orchestration:

    As to Staffpad vs Dorico. Both are good but you can access all options in Dorico for £3.49 per month or £34.99 per annum. I’d start with the monthly option as you can cancel at any time. The most obvious benefit of paying the monthly fee is that all Dorico iPad features are unlocked, but for me, the best feature of unlocking Dorico is that allows you to use any AUv3s you already own. e.g. AudioLayer has a far more complete orchestral library than the Cubasis one included with Dorico, but anything goes. I’ve been having a lot of fun using Sampletron and Syntronik to create synthesized players based on traditional orchestration players. I also like the fact that Dorico contains a piano roll, should you choose to use it for note entry.

    I’d also say Dorico is more refined overall. Staffpad is all about the Pencil driven natural entry but this can be buggy and Dorico and Pencil is super speedy too without a handwritting analysis engine.

  • My favorite orchestration book is "Creative Orchestration" by George McKay. For context, I've read probably every orchestration book ever published in English before 1990 or so, and none published since then.

  • edited October 19

    @shinyisshiny said:
    as i know absolutely NOTHING about writing or reading music.

    You need to learn notation to be able to use a notation app.

    Will StaffPad help me to take my cinematic compositions to the next level? Does it help you learn composing in the traditional sense? Do I need some prior knowledge? etc etc.

    Notation software like StaffPad will give you precise control over your score using articulations and dynamics on a single track. To accomplish them in a DAW would need extensive automation (StaffPad has automation too), using multiple tracks, etc. For instance, we could gradually raise/lower the volume (crescendo or decrescendo) even within a long single note using the hairpin. Same goes for trill, tremolo, glissando, arpeggio... StaffPad's libraries have choirs that sing 30 different syllables (controlled via the lyrics!) -

    https://www.staffpad.net/it-s-here-the-staffpad-2020-update

    For film scoring, notation software would work great - if you master notation and how to use a notation app, the workflow can be faster than a DAW! See David's video below...

    StaffPad also works on Surface tablet.

    https://www.staffpad.net
    https://www.staffpad.net/blog
    https://staffpad.zendesk.com

    3-hour score-writing video by David, the Founder (a MUST watch!) -

    How to get Staffpad to recognize your notation -

    StaffPad comes with a free Reader app which seamlessly syncs with StaffPad among a group of musicians -

    More -

    https://www.mobilemusic.us/articles/ios/191-staffpad-review-and-issues

    https://www.mobilemusic.us/articles/ios/239-staffpad

  • @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:
    My favorite orchestration book is "Creative Orchestration" by George McKay. For context, I've read probably every orchestration book ever published in English before 1990 or so, and none published since then.

    So out of interest, how do you rate Samual Adler's 'The Study of Orchestration' ? That was published within your timeframe and is very well regarded by most sources I've come across.

  • @jonmoore said:

    @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:
    My favorite orchestration book is "Creative Orchestration" by George McKay. For context, I've read probably every orchestration book ever published in English before 1990 or so, and none published since then.

    So out of interest, how do you rate Samual Adler's 'The Study of Orchestration' ? That was published within your timeframe and is very well regarded by most sources I've come across.

    That’s a good standard text. Most orchestration textbooks describe the sounds of the different ranges of various instruments. McKay gives you ideas about how to combine sounds.

  • @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:

    @jonmoore said:

    @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:
    My favorite orchestration book is "Creative Orchestration" by George McKay. For context, I've read probably every orchestration book ever published in English before 1990 or so, and none published since then.

    So out of interest, how do you rate Samual Adler's 'The Study of Orchestration' ? That was published within your timeframe and is very well regarded by most sources I've come across.

    That’s a good standard text. Most orchestration textbooks describe the sounds of the different ranges of various instruments. McKay gives you ideas about how to combine sounds.

    Thanks for the recommendation, I always enjoy workshop-style texts and have put an order in via Amazon.

  • For anybody else interested in @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr recommendation. The 2nd Edition of Creative Orchestration is available at archive.org. You can only borrow it for one hour at a time, but that's more than long enough to provide you with a good overview of what to expect from one of the digital reprints that are available from various outlets. The thing that surprised me most was how contemporary and fresh the text is considering it dates back to 1969. Maybe it's because it was written in the 60's that it lacks that fusty tone one might expect from a classic book on orchestration.

    https://archive.org/details/creativeorchestr00mcka/mode/2up

  • I was intrigued by the thought of using AUv3's in Dorico so I paid for 1 month @ $4 to test it.
    I loaded a MIDI file I picked up today on the Internet and changed the piano to be a Ravenscroft 275. Just ONE AUv3 and I it added a crackling piano. The default sounds are
    like the sound you get with Cubasis... meh.

    I won't keep paying $4 a month.

    I loaded the MIDI file into StaffPad and it played perfectly. There's a reason it has better sounds... it pre-renders whenever a bar in entered so when you hit play it can mix 20-30
    instruments instantly to show you what a composition sounds like. IT SCALES on my ipad and nothing using AUv3 can keep up.

    For inexpensive MIDI rendering don't forget the $8 BS-16i. Dorico handing off the MIDI to BS-16i might be a good way to go for good entry/notation and reasonable (but still artificial sounding) rendering of the audio mix.

  • StaffPad's Fenby assistant is similar to Siri - if we command like "Add strings", it will add 4 tracks (with cute animations) -

    Violins 1 in treble clef
    Violins 2 in treble clef
    Violas in C clef
    Violoncellos in Bass clef

    https://staffpad.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002334617-Fenby

  • StaffPad is by far my favourite app on the iPad and the one that I have been most productive in.

    One great thing I discovered this week was that it you can install it and all the IAPs you have on an M1 Mac for free (despite it looking worryingly like you will need to pay another £79.99 to do so!). You can then use it either in sidebar mode with your iPad or even better if you have a stylus/trackpad then you can use it exactly like you would if it were on the iPad. Since the scores are kept in iCloud then you can edit them between devices. I have an old Wacom trackpad and it has buttons which I could map to the StaffPad undo/erase/lasso options which actually made it a more productive way of working with the app.

    I have spent a lot of £ on this app and knowing that I have another copy of it now on my desktop makes me feel I have a bigger say in how long I’ll get to use it for should something bad happen to the app/company.

  • staffpad sounds great. thanks again everyone

Sign In or Register to comment.