iOS & Music Production in “A Classic Night Out”

Darren Sangita recently worked on major UK commercial project to fuse Western Classical Musical elements with Contemporary Electronic styles and sounds.  It was a fascinating concept that was a pleasure to explore with a major focus being on the use of Touchscreen Technologies in music production and live performance.   Check out the film on the project:-

The brief was literally that, to somehow fuse Western Classical with Electronic Music.  There was one small limitation… it was to be made without Drums or Synths !!

 With literally only 4 days to make it happen, I had to come up with a gameplan that would allow the creative processes to unfold whilst maintaining a firm gaze on the goal.  From the initial brief, I immediately felt the main criteria was to produce a world class musical product that would be the soundtrack for a web based advertising campaign that would hopefully go viral and explode across the Internet!

With this in mind and considering the time factor which was incredibly short, I decided to create an integrated sonic soundscape that would present well both on the night, as a performance in a club venue and also as a (probably home-viewed) musical journey on film.  I knew that in order to create the world class, sophisticated soundtrack that was needed, I would have to rely on a computer based sequencing software at the heart of the project as it may be possible to achieve such sophistication on a tablet but it takes considerably longer to create a production of equal quality!

However I knew that the touchscreen technology would play a vital role in the production process and would in fact, due to its very nature, allow me to speed up certain aspects of the production process by having multitouch capability and the capacity to assign multiple parameters to each control therefore having huge sonic morphing possibilities.  In certain parts of the process, the touchscreen technologies were intrinsic to my being able to complete such preproduction in such an impossibly short amount of time.  Using tablet technology is like having a glimpse into the future and the nature of how this amazing new technology can speed up the creative process is inspiring, because ideas become more fluid.

The nature of the brief was to process sound using tablet technology.  I have been enjoying the magic of processing sound using DSP (digital signal processing)  in music for 20 years and having been a devoted witness to the advancement of technological capability.  The algorhythms that make up the DSP is written by scientists whose work is mechanical yet allows artists to make beauty from them.  This has been a huge passion of mine, using those algorithms to evolve and shift sound through myriad processes.  I can honestly say that the the touchscreen revolution is the latest leap into the collective future of making music but their operational capability is still not at the level of the average laptop (yet!).

If we were to have had an additional few days with the musicians together, we would have new integrative opportunities which would allow for deeper fusion, as the technology demands experimentation which takes time to formularise. Live looping occurs over time and with time to get together in the same room, tablet technology and classical musicians would jam and rehearse together to achieve that synergistic magic of deep musical collaboration.  Its a wonderful concept, classical musicians playing to a score and new technologists jamming with their hyperfuture instruments.  Given the timescale though, I feel we achieved marvellous musical results.
Heres to the future of sound!
– Darren Sangita

There are a number of technical issues that Darren had to take into consideration when working on a project like this, notably the current situation with audio interfaces, i.e. how to get high quality audio in and out of the iPad.  It seems that many users have had positive results using  a combination of : Apple’s Camera Connection Kit (CCK) > USB Cable > Powered USB Hub > Audio interface and Midi contollor.  At the moment any sound card that is Class Compliant will seem to do the job, but remember it must be self powered or able to take power from the USB Hub.
In this case he decided to use Native Instruments KOMPLETE Audio 6 as it worked effortlessly on first trial and also has a kick-ass output that he felt would sound awesome in the club scenario.
All in all , it was a super project to work on with fantastic music from Classical Composer Jamie Salisbury, lovely textures and timbres from the four classical Musicians and a great technical team to create a smooth running world class production environment.

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