Windows 8 Multi-Touch Music Apps Could Be Huge

Tired of trying to make music on a little iPad multitouch screen?

Based this video, it looks like Windows 8 multi-touch music apps could be huge. In the video, Jordan Rudess tries out Morphwiz running on the Lenovo A720 with Windows 8.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Technical details:

The PC is a Lenovo A720 running Windows 8 RTM, with 10 point multi-touch at 1920×1080. The app is MorphWiz by Wizdom Music.

via Pete Brown

43 thoughts on “Windows 8 Multi-Touch Music Apps Could Be Huge

    1. Better competition means users win.

      Win 8 has a lot of catching up to do, still. Some key issues are a lack of app and MIDI under that modern UI.

      Variety of hardware will be a major plus, though.

      1. Modern UI is not for audio, just a tool to run apx on Windows, all those Market-like apps originally designed for phones and tablets.

        Windows 8 run any Windows program, so dont wait for Modem UI Apps …

        I dont think that serious tactile audio software will use Modern UI, so it’s def. not a problem.

        1. “I dont think that serious tactile audio software will use Modern UI, so it’s def. not a problem.”

          I’d tend to agree with you. If you’re right, then the ARM tablets will be pretty irrelevant for musicians.

          The demo is on an Intel computer running Windows 8, which may not be clear from their tech info.

      1. I kind of hope that MIDI takes so long to come to Surface that OSC becomes the standard. OSC is a far, far more appropriate protocol for touch screens. Touch screens are not a collection of discrete keys and one pitch wheel for the whole instrument – which the MIDI protocol confines you to.

        MIDI is really crippling the possibilities of touch surfaces, and it was only designed as a piano keyboard extender, works ok for sequencers, but is horrible for all other common scenarios like emulating string or voice instruments. MIDI can’t represent the most basic independent pitch bending scenarios on a touch screen: 1) manually chorusing by playing same note from multiple locations like 2 A2 notes vibratoing independently, 2) Bending notes in opposite directions 3) having no limitations on how far a note can bend at full pitch resolution. MIDI signaling has to be super super complicated to approximate these scenarios, using tricks like hogging all 16 channels to get an independent pitch wheel for each fingertip, using very wide bends, etc. You can get a close approximation, but it’s so complicated and the end result is never portable because MIDI has very weak semantics to go with the limitations of the protocol. OSC by contrast can represent all of these scenarios triviallly and correctly; but has no standardized semantics (ie: pitch/volume/timbre per voice as a basic namespace such that you can simply hookup any OSC controller to a synth and all the pitches just come out right without setup).

        I implemented the MIDI for Xstrument, Geo, and Cantor – which handle this pitch issue as well as it can be handled with MIDI, and I can tell you that MIDI does as much to stop technical progress as to push it forward.

        A lot of people will think that I am talking crazy talk, but this issue I speak about with MIDI is why Morphwiz MIDI didn’t ship (you just can’t do this kind of pitch handling correctly and portably without abandoning MIDI for a better protocol), and touch screens are kind of like a worst-nightmare case for MIDI protocol. I wish people would demand OSC compatibility, and settle on basic mandatory semantics (as OSC just standardizes syntax where both sides still have to agree on semantics of the messages). It would make the life of a controller designer a thousand times easier. Something like AudioBus makes dev’s lives easier by allowing components passing audio around to be decoupled into separate products. MIDI was supposed to do this for controllers, but MIDI never envisioned totally frequency oriented instruments where there are no real ‘notes’.

        1. MIDI does 90% of what most people want to do, but leaves the 10% that want to do more unusual things out.

          I can’t see this changing soon, unless tablets drive the change.

          It’s clear that these big touchscreens will be dirt cheap soon, though, which will be awesome’.

          1. Yeah, that is what i am saying. Tablets will drive this change. If controller and synth are under dev control with a high turnover environment, introducing a new protocol is easy (osc, midihd, something new) . Midi is why you have never seen a really good midi device for strings players, or a microphone that correctly emits the actual pitches, etc. notes are a fictional abstraction over real frequencies.

            1. For choirs, or most classical orchestra instruments, notes in an ensemble context are actually an agreement between the players involved.

            2. Really interesting idea!

              Don’t get me wrong I think MIDI has a lot of problems, but one of the reasons I got an iPad was because of coreMIDI and it just works.

              Perhaps Apple can be convinced to come up with a subset of MIDI that addresses touch and pitch needs. Who else has the clout and the desire?

              I’m guessing it’s a lot of the Logic team’s knowledge that’s going into coreMIDI and I’d trust them to work on additional features. They know first hand all of the workarounds MIDI needs.

              And MIDI is in dire need of a new cable format to handle the bandwidth and we all know how much Apple likes new cable formats. 😉

            3. Oh and the other thing is that, yeah, you’re gonna have to get some big sequencers on board, maybe even first to be able to record and playback this data. I think that means either Cubase, Live or Logic, with maybe DP or Reaper as outliers.

              Cubase has some of this in VST3 and unless you want to spend your whole life drawing note expression it’d be great to have some tablets for this, so they would be well served to get along with an updated MIDI spec.

              Analog is hyped now, and CV is becoming more mainstream…I wonder if a digital CV spec would sell well? Maybe finally get Propellerheads to let you sequence external gear. 🙂

              Oh man, it’d be so exciting to get better control. I think software synths have been held back by control more than anything.

    1. Outrageous, sir! You bloody well know that Microsoft can’t outpost Apple without another blasted ‘pip’ and a ‘cheerio’ for good measure.

  1. Normal apps are not optimized for touch-experience. Think tweaking those synth plug in knobs with your fingers. Added value will be provided by this touchscreen if you have touch-optimized apps like for the iPad today.

    Saying this I think it will take some time for Windows 8 music apps to catch up and the ecosystem to support this. I say we will have to wait two years.

  2. People are whining about the price of an iPad mini. No way that a huge touch screen is going to be even remotely cost effective for most musicians. So, yes, it’s super cool. Is it the new killer thing everyone will get? No.

    1. They’re whining about the price of an iPad mini because of cost/feature ratio compared to the competition (and other iPads, for that matter).

      With the focus on touch in Win 8 and PC makers desperate for a way to differentiate versus Apple, you’re going to see lots of these devices come to market over the next year and prices will become reasonable very quickly. It’s not inconceivable that you could buy a device like that next year for what you paid for an iPad 2 last year.

    2. The Lenovo in the video is a pretty well spec’d PC for $1500, I don’t get any comparison to people whining about iPad mini prices…

      1. Nobody in the comments mentioned the iPad mini before xtopher said that “People are whining about the price of an iPad mini.” Where’d that come from?

        It doesn’t make any sense to compare this to a mini, because the Lenovo PC costs almost 5 times as much and you’d have a hard time fitting it into a briefcase.

        Windows doesn’t have anything that competes very well against the iPad or iPad mini – but these multitouch Windows 8 PCs look like they could be good music workstations.

    1. fsk1138 –

      This will probably make more sense when you give a multi-touch system a try.

      There’s a big difference between running your apps on an old-school touchscreen – which limits you to using your finger like a mouse – and working with apps and an operating system that are both designed for multi-touch.

          1. since winxp tablet edition if you had the hardware that supported multitouch some vst or programs supported more than 1 input often you had only 2 this is more than the mouse equivalent
            pinch to zoom ,photo rotate , two finger swipe etc ..
            – since win7 you can have 10 input touch – some- not all programs and vst work with 2-5 inputs a few even 10
            – try some of the more forward thinking developers
            – just google

            PlayStation Eye or kinect or webcam multitouch
            you really dont even need a touch screen

            1. You kind of danced around my question.

              Do any of your music apps work with real multitouch behavior under Windows 8? I haven’t heard of any big Windows music apps (DAWs or major soft synths) being updated for this yet.

              I was interested to see the Rudess Morphwiz demo – but it’s the first example I’ve seen of a music app running on Windows that really takes advantage of multitouch.

  3. not the forget is the fact that this interface first needs to have apps tailored towards it.
    it´s not merely about touching stuff on screen.

    also for me touch aspect is pretty much perfect for the portable platform. on desktop however other input devices make far more sense. being slouched over the screen for hours is a painful experience.

  4. is some ways it seems we are going backwards….. I used to sit at a 48 channel Neve or SSL desk with racks of outboard and dream of the day you could control all that from a mouse. Now we’re aiming towards flinging our arms about again during a 14 hour session? I’m not being entirely serious, but is it a matter of time before somebody proposes a fully featured full sized touch screen environment where you can load the desk and outboard gear of your choice?….. actually…. I’d buy that!

  5. I’ve asked Pete Brown in the past about MIDI controller apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8 but it looks like most people are more interested in apps like this because it’s easy to show off to people. I know that trying to explain what a MIDI controller does is kinda complicated but it would be great to start seeing Win8 apps that let you build custom interfaces like the Smithson Martin Emulator Modular to send MIDI wirelessly to you PC with a real low latency audio interface.
    It’s not impossible to use MIDI in “non-desktop” Win8 apps (I’m assuming) because it’s been done even in Windows Phone 7.5 recently. It’s just that the standard Windows MIDI APIs aren’t available to you so you have to create all the MIDI stuff yourself.

    The Lenovo he was using seemed to have perfectly usable latency tough. He opened the BUILD 2012 conference yesterday morning by playing this device while everyone was still walking into the venue.

    1. It will take a couple of years for software to catch up, though.

      There’s no doubt this is a good thing for musicians and Apple will have to get creative to keep their technical lead.

  6. I think this looks fantastic, ios has pioneered touch based music for the last few years, app developers have really pushed the envelope. I have my windows box still, big, ungainly but a pleasure to work with when I upgrade, plenty of space, quick release bays, but I find I hardly use xp anymore, mainly a combination of a newish mbp and ipad.

    This is tempting me to upgrade my hardware, drop win 8 in another partition and get a touch screen monitor, have the best of both worlds with plenty of tactile screens to play on. Grab vienna ensemble pro and I’ll be in hog heaven. To be fair apple left the door wide open for people who would like a larger screen, this just looked like a scaled up ipad app, yet the larger screen made quite a difference. Microsoft left the door open for apple before as it had touch screens for a while, but didn’t push multi-touch, just showed off some original surface tables and limited the market to hotels, casino’s etc, look what happened.

    I would prefer this> as ios has given apple a huge advantage with devs, so that knowledge would be an asset with touched based music apps on a larger screen. But apple hasn’t come out with anything larger than my ipad, so I’m tempted by this video. It will take a while to match the apps for ios and rt is out of the question as the ipad is far more capable for music, but windows 8 pro is more like osx, with more thoughtful touchscreen implimentation than the bolted on versions since xp tablet ed to win7.

  7. I don’t know who invented the multi touch technology, but i salute that person. Multi touch applications made our office work very easy. As i’m working in interior designing company, we using large touch screen device to plan our project. One thing here i don’t want to miss is NextGen Multi Touch company developing really awesome multi touch applications. We purchased this 3D interior designing application from them and it’s really superb. I want to thank for admin of this article for giving best information. Keep it up. If any one wants to have a look at that company click on the link –

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