scriptSONIC Turns Your iPad Into A Programmable Javascript-Based Instrument

Developer Jonathan Mackenzie has released scriptSONIC – a programmable musical instrument for the iPad.

scriptSONIC is designed to combine the open-ended power of a programming language (Javascript) with the expressiveness of a touch-screen.

You can use scriptSONIC to:

  • generate and control interactive musical patterns using simple JavaScript code;
  • make interactive rhythms;
  • send and respond to MIDI messages;
  • explore notes, chords and scales;
  • manipulate samples and live sound input; and
  • record the results.

scriptSONIC is available for US $24.99.

22 thoughts on “scriptSONIC Turns Your iPad Into A Programmable Javascript-Based Instrument

      1. I don’t program sequencers, I play what I hear in my head using MIDI controllers, but I guess you’re right – “not one size fits all”… 😉

  1. hi leslie – i disagree (obviously!). one way of conceiving of music is as an algorithmic process and there is a long tradition of computer music in that direction. the whole point of scriptsonic is to be bring some of that thinking to the ipad where you have the huge added feature of an expressive touch screen. yes, it’s not for everyone, but to some of us it is a very intuitive and fruitful way of constructing musical experiments.

  2. @billfusion & @Dan – yes it might seem a bit pricey and i agree it would be good to be able try before you buy – i’m thinking about that right now. in defence of the price: i think ipad apps are generally very cheap for what they are compared to lap/desktop software. for a lone developer like myself i have to balance that expectation with the need to earn enough to keep developing. scriptsonic is a long-term project, and i want to be able to keep improving it. i’m hoping people who like the whole concept will see a purchase as also supporting it for the future.

  3. There is never fun way to learn Java…
    It is and always was CRAP, unless you’re Android user that is and that is BIGGEST crap as we know it…

    1. One more time JavaScript is NOT JAVA. JavaScript is THE Web language (whit HTML and CSS) while JAVA is a server side language.

      1. So I am a software developer and musician. I am very familiar with creating music with code because I already do it on my laptop. I have my own python music composition environment that interfaces with my other music making software components (Live, Logic, Max, Reaktor). Arguably my studio environment is far more powerful of a music creation environment than the iPad. So why should I buy this app? If this app simplified my studio process and gave me more freedom to be creative, then that would be very compelling. To do that they need to introduce levels of abstraction in the UI. They allow users to create a process but I don’t want to interact with it as a process. I would rather interact with it as an object, which is the way my mind is cognitively processing music in the first place. By abstracting the process, you stay in the realm of music because music is an abstract language. Also, the app needs to be beautiful so that I am inspired to create something beautiful.

        1. Hi Anthony – interesting thoughts.

          What you describe sounds familiar – I’ve also built a python-based system to make generative music with Live and Max. Although fruitful, I found this frustrating in several ways, though: the complexity of the setup, a lack of immediacy between coding and musical result, and tactility.

          What I really wanted was to ‘play’ the code like an instrument. OK, so there’s live-coding software, but I find that too textual. GUI’s with timelines and clips etc. are more score-like ways to represent musical events to me, plus they’re a familiar music software concept.

          So my thinking with scriptSONIC was to try and find a hybrid between a tactile musical instrument, the generative power & flexibility of code, and the clip /timeline UI of a multitrack / DAW / looper. Perhaps that’s a bit of a mongrel, but it’s an attempt to put code onto a timeline, and to may it playable at the same time.

          I chose the iPad because it’s tactile, but I hadn’t come across anything that could let me code musically with MIDI and samples in real-time with enough accuracy.

          As with many things on the iPad compared to lap/desktop alternatives, I wanted to keep it simple and stripped-down. Setting up and programming python to interact with a full-blown DAW has quite a steeper learning curve than getting going with scriptSONIC!

          I agree the interface is a bit clunky, but I hope to refine it with time. Ultimately I’d like to open up the GUI to script, but again, wanted to start simple.

  4. Looks like this holds an enormous amount of possibilities. That explains the price. Probably won’t appeal to the masses, but could generate a cult following. Not for me, but the apparent depth is very impressive!

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