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EM Editor's Note: App Naturally

November 30, 2010

As you''ve probably observed already, there are several pieces of editorial in this issue that focus on music apps for Apple''s IOS. Most directly, there''s “Attack of the Killer Apps”, for which we, or I to be more precise, engaged in a marathon music-app-testing session to try to find out which are the most useful apps, from a musicians'' standpoint, for the Apple iPad. And believe me, finding the good ones among the teeming multitude of music apps on the iTunes Store was no small task. There are hundreds of them, but only a relatively small amount are designed for musicians. Most music apps are made to appeal to the general public, and while many of those are fun to play with, they''re never going to be considered serious musical tools.

Still, it was an enjoyable search for the most part, and I discovered a lot of very cool software. I didn''t have the space to make the story as comprehensive as I would have liked, so I had to concentrate on certain app categories and leave others to future coverage.

I''ve owned an iPhone for a while, and have become familiar with many of the music apps available for it, but the iPad takes the whole thing to a different level, chiefly because of the size of its screen. Working with music software on a multitouch screen—especially one as big as the iPad—is a completely different experience from regular mouse-and-keyboard computing. For many actions, it''s much more direct—you''re cutting out the “middleman” as it were: the keyboard or mouse. You just press or drag something with your finger or fingers, and your task is accomplished. And because the iPad''s screen is so much larger than the iPhone''s, it makes a huge difference in terms of what you can do, and the extra space lessens the necessity for developers to bury features inside layers of menus.

I''m looking forward to the day when touchscreens are a regular feature of desktop computing. They''ll surely change the experience of making music on a computer.

In addition to the iPad story, apps also come up in our cover story on Richie Hawtin, who had a hand in developing Griid, an Ableton Live controller from Liine. What''s more, the “Back Talk column” features an interview with Jordan Rudess, who, in addition to being a world-class keyboardist and a mainstay in Dream Theater, is a huge music-app supporter. In fact, he''s played a major role in developing a couple of apps, including JR Hexatone Pro and his most recent, MorphWiz (covered in “Attack of the Killer Apps”). Rudess is an evangelist for the IOS platform and believes strongly in its potential for new and different music-making.

On the subject of our back page column, I wanted to give a shout out to Porcupine Tree''s Steven Wilson for six excellent “In the Mix” columns, the last of which ran in the November issue. Wilson had a lot on his mind regarding the music business and the influence of technology. Due to an extremely busy schedule, he could only commit to the six columns, but we were very glad to have had them. His columns are still stirring up a lot of commotion in our online comments section.

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