The 20th disquiet.com junto project in May 2012 explored the inherent creative limits of a mobile app. All participants employed the same app to complete the project.
Everyone working on this project used two instruments. One of those instruments was NodeBeat, an app available for iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), for Android, for Blackberry, and as a cross-platform (Flash) implementation. The other was an instrument of our choice; this second instrument was to fall into the broadly defined category of “traditional” — i.e., a keyboard, a guitar, woodwind, percussion, etc.
The project employed three steps:
Step 1: Create a piece of music in NodeBeat.
Step 2: Record a segment of that music no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than four minutes.
Step 3: Use that segment as the basis for a track employing one additional instrument.
I wrestled with the app’s ability to free-form soundscapes, so in the end, I chose to keep the the nodes and beat generators stationary. The app makes some classic electronica sounds and the keyboard’s square wave brought me back into a new wave head. Once programmed, I “played” the app for about 2:40, with no particular structure, just turning things on and off while playing the keyboard (in major pentatonic) that runs across the screen behind the nodes. Took me a few takes to find something I liked, and this is still a bit messy, but it was truly fun and i think i got a pretty big sound, in a way, for doing something totally on the fly.
Didn’t record in the app, though, but rather into Sony Acid from an iPad plugged direct into a MOTU interface. Then I played Jolie, my Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue, over the NodeBeat track in an open D# tuning through a 1961 Fender Tweed Champ emulator with the drive set at 8 and a bit of presence. Three guitar takes in all. Each was live, no punch in and everything got minimal processing (compression, enhancement, EQ). A “demo” in all senses, but also a window. And as always, the junto took me down a road I would never find on my own.
This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller.
More information on NodeBeat