Because it’s awesome, that why!
For some reason, I was hesitating buying Moog amazing, 99 cent synthesizer app. In retrospect, it was a bizarre line of thought that I’m not proud of, since I spend 4 times that on coffee every day.
After spending some time with the app, I can now tell you a few reasons why I am super impressed with Animoog and give y’all a few ideas I have about integrating it with Ableton Live. Next week I’ll release a video showing how I use it with Ableton Live.
What first impressed me about the Animoog was the keyboard. Peter over at CDM has a rundown of different reviews that address this issue, some which relate to the keyboard. I personally think that the developers of Animoog have been realistic about the limitations of the iPad and have tried to work with them. First of all, if you touch the keys at different heights along the keys, the synth will play at different volumes. This is an innovation that I’ve seen on other iPad synth apps and I’m glad that Animoog incorporated it. The really cool thing, though, is the fact that you can create custom keyboards. What this means is that you can tell Animoog to just display the keys that you are actually going to play! This strikes a great middle term between full chromatic keyboards that waste valuable screen space and more simple interfaces that only play in one key at a time. A little forethought and you can have a more spacious arrangement that still affords a little room for improvisation.
The synth also has a whopping x/y controller that is really fun to play with. While I find its animation pretty, I don’t exactly understand how it works. That’s beside the point, though, because you can map ANY parameters to the x/y controller, including groups of parameters that are referred to as timbres. This brings the whole shebang close to Native Instruments Kore interface (I still use the free Kore player all the time).
I have always been a fan of sitting down, pressing record on a clip in Ableton and just making as many noises as I can with the noisemaker in my hand. I usually do this within a predetermined key or chord progression. Then, I go back and chop this up and sequence the pieces. Often the very messiness of it will lend you new composition ideas. And some of the best moments come when you are changing parameters. Then, you get cool sweeps and unforeseen sounds. I’ve already done this using the x/y controller on the Animoog and I’ve not been disappointed.
Finally, the Animoog has what amounts to a dedicated loop pedal, complete with overdub recording! I cannot tell you how I excited I am about this. What this means is that you can record a loop of a chord progression with one synth, change presets, turn overdub off to make sure that it sounds good and then turn overdub on and add another layer. What I really like about this is that it records audio, as opposed to note information. This means that it is not just retriggering the audio and the parameter change info, it is acting like an actual old-school loop pedal. This can be daunting, because you can’t edit after you are done and the syncing can drift, but I really prefer the simplicity of this method.
Now, I have no idea how to turn the click on on the Animoog and, even if I did, I wouldn’t trust syncing this thing syncing wirelessly to Ableton. I appreciate the fact that Korg is trying to establish this WIST thing, but I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon. The only thing worse that things not syncing is thinking that things will sync and then being disappointed.
That said, I can foresee a setup wherein you set all the rhythmically fundamental stuff in Ableton, like drums, percussion and bass, and then do the pad loops in Animoog. You can layer it on top with some reverb and not be too concerned if it is a few milliseconds off. I would route this through Ableton for a few more effects and better control of its volume and panning.
A final note. There have been some complaints about iPad and iPhone synth apps, about how they aren’t as “full” sounding as hardware or as inuitive as tactile control. There will also always be people who discount these things as toys. That’s all fine and good, but remember that Fruity Loops was a toy and then producers blew the top off of that. Things that we used to think were gimmicky toys now go for thousands of dollars on the eBay. So, whatever you do, make great music with this stuff and, most of all, don’t worry! I leave you with my good man, Louis CK.
What iOS apps do you use with Ableton Live? Leave me a comment and let me know!