Developer Rob Fielding has created a new synth for iOS, Cantor, that goes where other apps fear to tread.
Fielding, who has pioneered microtonal instruments for iOS, has this to say about Cantor:
This app has nothing at all to do with beat making, sequencing, creation, DAWs, or iPad-only workflows.
It’s a pocketable instrument that’s as playable as a guitar or a piano for a lot of uses. It should be reliable and simple, for you to plug into an effects processor or a computer *like* a guitar or hardware synth.
I tried initially to ship this without any audio engine at all, as a pure MIDI controller. But the current state of MIDI with respect to continuous pitch instruments is still bad. I only implemented an internal engine to demonstrate a full exercise of the playability parameters.
Here are the details.
- Wavetable synthesis engine – Fielding notes that the synth engine doesn’t offer a lot of sound variety. His hope is that other developers will add the level of MIDI support that Cantor requires, but he’s included the basic synth engine so that the instrument is immediately playable.
- It has ‘octave auto’, for very fast soloing. He says Cantor is just as playable on the phone as it is on the iPad if you play it that way.
- MIDI with polyphonic bending (note ties, channel cycling, etc). Most synths won’t be able to deal with this, yet. But several synths, including Kontakt 4, Korg Karma, ThumbJam, SampleWiz & Arctic work with it, to some degree.
- Moveable frets to let you define your own scales, which includes exact pitch locations and the number of frets per octave.
- Common microtonal scale shapes already setup: Diatonic, Pentatonic, 12ET chromatic, Pseudo Maqam Bayati, Pythagorean, Just, 19ET, 31ET, 53ET & just fretless.
Cantor has been submitted to the App Store and will be $2.
Note: Fielding is pushing MIDI to its limits and exploring areas that other developers have ignored, and this means that he’s going to run into some obstacles along the way. He notes that MIDI is “horribly broken for almost every non-piano instrument scenario when it comes to pitch handling. This works around that, but it’s not pretty.”
So review the information available on his site before you buy it, to make sure that Cantor will meet your needs.