Thursday, September 15, 2011

iPad for Music Education - Part 3

SoundPrism (free) - This is an extremely interesting and, as it turns out, a very in depth piece of music design. When you open up this app you may brush this off as another Beatwave, everywhere you place your fingers it sounds nice, in tune and in the right key, but(!) when delving further it reveals itself to be quite intricate, what I think to be, composing machine.

On the left you have the bass notes (which you can have the names of the notes come up in the settings, recommended for class/teaching use) and on the right you have the notes designed in the such a way that if you hit 1, 2, or even 9 at the same time it'll do perfect chords. Minor and major chords are cleverly designed as dark and light lines on the right and 6th and 7th chords are as easy as where you position your bass note relative to the chord and vice versa.

Being a songwriter myself I can see amazing opportunity for someone who doesn't have a total grasp on music theory to get into writing songs or melodies straight away. This is something I would've loved at school as songwriting/composition was not pushed, I remember doing 1 composition assignment and that's it. From the demo video it's clear the app maker wanted people to feel the emotion of making music without the tediousness of music theory and they've succeeded greatly.

I could go on forever about the midi component in the pro version ($16.99), the limited but excellent sounds/instruments (mostly synth), the keyboard that you can bring up to show you exactly what notes the app is producing and the great demo videos but I'll just let you dive into it yourself. You will be surprised.

Aweditorium (free) - I know from experience that high school students keep to their own music style, rarely venturing into other genres of music, and though you can force "What Do We Do With a Drunken Sailor" and some jass in front of them, its seen as old and ineffectual to them. Enter the music discovery apps starting with Aweditorium, allowing the user to navigate new and varied music easily and entertainingly.

From the moment you open this app you can see it's simple and stylish design with the band photo tiles appearing on a large canvas of music landscape, the touch is smooth and responsive and in the top left hand corner you can see little dots of where people are on the music map in real time.

From the get go it urges you to tap the centre tile, as you do you get pulled into a high res photo of the band and a song instantly starts playing. You tap between two screens while in this mode, a lyrics mode and a information mode, the latter has pop up speech bubbles of
information on the band (a la VH1's "Pop Up Video") obviously written by the band themselves. Also in the information mode is a peace symbol which is a share function for Twitter and Facebook (this also counts how many earthlings have shared the song), a heart symbol which you can fly to different songs by the same artist and download the song on iTunes ("a song means a lot when a song is bought" it reads) and links to video interviews and music videos all watched within the app.

The only downside is that there is too much indie (as in the genre) music. There is an underground in all types of music but it's indie music that is the main aspect of this app and Triple J, it is the music of the moment but there needed to be more varied types of music to make this a true music discovery app.

KCRW Music Mine (free) - This music discovery app is an offering from American radio station KCRW who is a leader at supporting new music (Triple J for the States). It has the same sort of design as Aweditorium but this one is sponsored by unobtrusive ads and isn't as slick. Though swiping through the tiles (however jittery) the tiles on the sides sort of attach and unattach in a very cool manner. Also different is from these tiles there are songs, videos, radio DJ sets updated daily and also KCRW's streaming radio station.

Once listening to a song you can share it, buy it, listen to other songs by the artist, look at photos, get video, view blogs that have mentioned the band and view their full bio. Truly a tremendous way to show an artist and have info on them for students to experience all the band has to offer.

As for the music collection, there is still an over presence of the indie genre and there are more artists that you would actually know (which isn't particularly a good thing for a music discovery app, I mean I saw Radiohead and Joy Division in there) but it is much more varied than Aweditorium, for instance right now I'm listening to a Spanish dub step song. In terms of finding more genres for the students to experience, I'd have to say KCRW Music Mine wins out.

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