Are You Ready For The iPad To Join The Orchestra?

Are you ready for the iPad to join the orchestra?

Either way – some composers, like Ned McGowan, are forging ahead.

This video captures some highlights from McGowan’s Concerto for iPad and Orchestra, performed by Keiko Shichijo on the iPad with the Sinfonia Rotterdam.

The video is so episodic as to make it difficult to get much of a feel for the work. But it does show how the iPad is being used, along with several software synths, to bring both an expanded range of timbres to the orchestra and new approaches to playing expressively.

Here’s McGowan’s introduction to the work:

Check it out and let us know what you think!

22 thoughts on “Are You Ready For The iPad To Join The Orchestra?

  1. Don’t you mean tablet computers? Because the ipad is just a brand, do you call it a tissue or a Kleenex or a Scotttowel?

  2. No other tablet could do this now, so making the question about the iPad makes more sense.

    Android devices have unpredictable latency and Windows 8 tablets won’t support MIDI, so iPad is it for now.

    1. There might not be MIDI drivers directly in Windows 8, but you can install MIDIOX or other MIDI drivers to fix that problem.

  3. I use a windows 7 tablet (samsung series 7) all the time for composing. Wacom digitizer is much more accurate than my fat finger. I never understood why someone would wan t a tablet or pad that cant mimic your workspace environment on your main machine. It just adds another layer o unnecessary cumbersome transfer. I love being able to go from my desktop to tablet and still have all my DAWs and vsts.

    1. There’s a difference between using a touchscreen to control legacy mouse-driven software and using multi-touch to control apps that were actually designed with multi-touch in mind.

      If you run Ableton Live on a Windows tablet, you can’t really do anything that you couldn’t do just as well on a cheap laptop. The touchscreen is just simulating the movement of your mouse. So what’s the point? Laptops are a lot cheaper.

      This is why Microsoft is completely redoing Windows with tablets in mind!

        1. It sounds like you’ve got a nice setup for DJing with Live.

          Your Windows tablet, though, is not going to be capable of doing any of the things the iPad is used for in this video.

          You might be able to kludge something together with Emulator and some soft synths, but you’re looking at an expensive, time-consuming kludge to try to emulate what you can do on a $400 iPad with a $10 app.

  4. Which tablet shows on this video? Coincidence? No

    And is very comfortable use Ableton Live in a 10″ screen.

    The iPad (today) is the most extended touchscreen plattform for musical apps and has exclusive instruments from the most important manufacturers. This is the reality.

    1. Its 12 inches baby boo. And I didn’t know ipad supports ableton live, spectrasonics, u-he, waves…..

      I didn’t know I could just detach my babyface from my desktop and connect to an ipad to record vocals and instruments

      Man there have been some crazy nice upgrades

  5. Regardless of the tech, I think it’s high time that symphonies start embracing modern instruments, and I applaud them for this and wish them the best of luck. The skill and musicianship in a symphony is impressive, but the sound sets are getting old. Nice to see this starting to come together. But they have a lot of catching up to do. It’s always sad to see some collegiate classical musician put out a video bragging about their advanced explorations in musical tech, and see that it’s stuff the rest of us have been doing for 20 years. Or see a symphony playing as best they can behind some metal band.

    This really strikes me when I watch an older film that was made before it became “ok” to use instruments and sound sources other than symphonies for sound tracks. So many of them seem very out of place. For instance, I watched Aliens again last weekend, and the sound track, while skillful, sounded completely ridiculous and ineffective compared to all the wonderful textural stuff that is happening today.

    1. I agree. Not sure if this Concerto is one for the ages, but I’d love to see a performance that was more experimental like this.

      I love soundtracks, too, especially game soundtracks, because composers are doing more experimenting to get new sounds.

      Hans Zimmer’s film music is often derivative thematically, but his arrangements are always wonderfully rich. After hearing one of his big budget film scores on a good system, a standard orchestra sounds kind of puny.

  6. They tried introducing synths to orchestras in the 80s. It didn’t catch on. I don’t expect synths-on-iPads to catch on either. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is great musical capacity in the iPad and bands will integrate them into their repertoire much like that have laptops. But whatever stopped synths from joining the orchestra in the 80s has not changed. I’m not discouraging experimentation though.

    Judging the Concerto from clips alone is probably unfair but if I were previewing these 10 second clips for purchase I doubt I would buy it.

    As far as app used, I recognized Bowls HD and TC-11. I’m fine with using TC-11, it’s a synth, but IMO they should have used actual singing bowls. Otherwise why have have a violin section, a woodwind section and a piano? There are many great sample libraries that emulate those instruments at least as well as the bowls app.

  7. Is it someone using an ipad together with an orchestra or someone using an ipad based softsynth with it? it’s a subtle yet radical difference. an ipad without software is just a piece of glass in a frame.

  8. I don’t really care what the instruments are. All i care about is the music. The only question is “did the music move me?”. For me the answer is no, for others maybe it’s a yes, that’s fine. I didn’t see anything “new” in the final result. It might as well be a theremin, hangdrum or tibetan bowls …

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