The iPad as an Amazing Musical Tool

Just last week, my wife and I bought a new iPad from one of the shops at the SM Mall of Asia. I had been contemplating about getting a tablet computer or e-book reader for years given the advantages they have. I always thought that I could at the very least have one as a library or sheet music stack on the go. Upon getting an iPad, it opened up a whole new world to me.

The first thing about the iPad that was obvious to me was that I can use it as a musical instrument. This is due to Jordan Rudess’s influence, having seen him on many Dream Theater videos that feature the iPhone and then the iPad as an alternative to his Haken Continuum. Taking cue from that influence, my first app purchase was Wizdom Music’s Tachyon and MorphWiz. These two apps simply blew my mind away as it transformed my iPad into a new musical instrument, sort of like a fretless instrument with more controls. More toys for me to make a noise with then.

The second obvious application for the iPad was as a sheet music reader. I have plenty of sheet music in PDF format and so I got Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in the tablet, loaded up some of my sheet music in it, and there I go. I now have most of my sheet music with me in just a small package. No more folders or extra envelopes to bring with me then.

Reading all over the web, I realized that I can do more with it that those things I’ve mentioned. I have GarageBand in my iPad so theoretically I can perform multitrack audio and MIDI recordings with it. I have most of the things required to make that happen such as a couple of keyboards (from the massive Kurzweil PC88 to the Korg Nanokey), my trusty Technics digital piano, some guitars, and my Zoom H4n recorder. All I lack now is the digital camera connection kit for the iPad (essentially an iPad port to USB adapter). Since the Zoom H4n and the Korg Nanokey has been confirmed to work with the iPad, if I get that connector then boom! A recording studio on the go that’s more mobile than my laptop rig.

Since I’m a music transcriber, I’ve also thought about how the iPad would work as a scorewriter. It’s unfortunate that Sibelius for iPad hasn’t been written yet. However, there’s Symphony Pro and Notion for iPad. Since I’ve been reading reports about how both iPad scorewriters are prone to crashing, I held off the decision to purchase one or the other.

The iPad’s WiFi connectivity can turn it into a remote control surface for DAWs like Sonar, Logic Pro, Cubase, etc. This I haven’t tried yet but I’m assuming that it would be a good alternative to getting an actual control surface. I would have to admit though that nothing beats the actual hardware. But if you’ve got an iPad, it maybe worth trying out.

Having spent only a few days with the iPad, I now have an understanding of why a number of musicians prefer to use the iPad, iPhone, Mac Books and other Apple products for their music production needs. It’s easy to use, and it’s already optimized. I didn’t need to do any tweaks of sort to get things like MorphWiz running. With my PC-based music production gear, I had to spend hours tweaking various aspects of it to get them running smoothly. The big turn off for Apple products is the price. The iPad is not cheap, though I got mine lower since the New iPad just got released and I got the iPad 2. If I’ve already seen that much from just spending a few days with the iPad, I suppose there’s still a lot of exciting things for me to look forward to as this new device helps me in creating new music.

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The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines Contributes to the Dwindling African Elephant Population

My oh my. Tsk, tsk, tsk! Thanks to African poachers and religiously devout paying customers from the Philippines, Thailand, China and Japan, the African Elephant may soon become extinct.

I just read this piece from the National Geographic about how the illegal ivory trade in Africa relates to a pedophile priest who was transferred to Cebu and promoted in rank (instead of being prosecuted), owning a virtual museum of ivory statues, Roman Catholic-Muslim black market trade relations, corrupt customs officials, and Filipino Roman Catholic obsessions with the Sto. Niño. Even when the world has found replacements for ivory, it seems like the Roman Catholic Church is having a hard time letting go.

In the Philippines, Ivory statues of Sto. Niño and other “gods” for sale are glorified, gilded in gold and expensive clothing while elephant populations are dwindling down and many parishioners continue to live below suitable living conditions. It seems like the Philippines is still in the Middle Ages if you read this.

One priest claims such extravagance is an offering to “god” while people go hungry and elephants continue to be massacred. If you think about it, you will wonder why there are people who question what sort of “god” do these fanatics worship. This is just one of the many reasons why the Roman Catholic Church is accused of being a backward-thinking organization. Need any evidence of that? Check out many of Spain’s former colonies, and maybe even Spain itself.

These so-called holy men try to preach “god” to a hungry population while they dress up their lifeless ivory idols in gold, silver, and Swarovski crystals? No wonder they have followers who are hungry, deprived and therefore easily manipulated.

This is hypocrisy in action! These priests impose upon their congregation to think not of earthly wealth and desires and then get them to part ways with their hard-earned money. Where does all of this money go? To the priests and their lavish lifestyles, surrounded by their statues of ivory while they fatten up their asses with rich food and wine. The thought of it is just sickening.

Read more about it here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/ivory/christy-text.

Music Theory Mastery for Guitar on Guitarzoom

A good knowledge of music theory allows any guitarist to vastly improve his or her skills, and one of the best courses out there is “Music Theory Mastery for Guitar” by Steve Stine. I have started working on this new project as a music transcriber and chart maker for the past couple of weeks, and I could definitely say that Steve is one of the best teachers out there. His new music theory lesson is currently hosted at Guitarzoom.com.

Music theory can be a daunting subject to tackle. However, Steve breaks it down to practical tidbits that are most useful for any guitarist. It follows a kind of hear-before-you-read approach in that his theory lessons emphasize hearing and recognizing notes, scales, chords and patterns and practical performance advice over reading sheet music. I know that teaching sheet music first could easily turn off a lot of people, especially those that want to get some practical music skills fast. It appears that this approach to learning music theory offers easy transmission of knowledge and skill that learners would eventually want to learn how to read sheet music as soon as they get better.

The main benefit any guitarist can get from Music Theory Mastery for Guitar is that it provides an overall understanding of how music works as it relates to guitar without having to read sheet music. I can say that it’s a very suitable course for guitarists who learned how to play by ear and would want to advance their skills further. If you are interested in enrolling for Music Mastery for Guitar, sign up for the course at Guitarzoom.Com. It’s an ongoing class and week 4 of the course starts next week. Even if you missed the following weeks, you can go and backtrack the previous weeks as many times as you want with your subscription.

P.S. if you’re a Guitarzoom member and you have any questions about the courses, music theory or guitar playing in general, you can send in your questions to me and I’ll gladly offer my help in the Guitarzoom member forums. That’s because I’m the new guitar Q&A guy as well.

Again, if you want to push your guitar playing skills to another level, go sign up for Steve Stine’s “Music Theory Mastery for Guitar” at Guitarzoom.com.