Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Alchemy Mobile - The "Wave" of the Future

I guess we know we are not in Kansas any more when musical controller data travel over a wireless connection. Clearly the progression has gone from DIN to USB to nothing but air.

When I look at Alchemy Mobile I can see a lot of Native Instruments Kore. I always liked the idea of Kore but thought the dedicated controller was overkill. But building a direct wireless connection between a mirror image performance controller on a mobile device and the computer based VST is brilliant. I can only hope that other synth makers follow suit.

The "Performance" aspect of Alchemy Mobile is critical. One of the reasons I own a Moog Voyager is that in many ways it was one of the first performance controller. In interviews with Bob Moog he expressed how he saw the Mini Moog's knobs as part of the performance aspects of the instrument. This sounds a lot like a performance controller to me.

I think there has been a progression in synths (hard and soft) towards greater complexity at least in workstations. There is a bit of reversal of this with the small mini-synths but most general and multi purpose synths are complex. This sometimes means layered menus that make learning curves steeper and separate controls from the performance aspects of the synth.

There has been an effort in the soft synth market to simplify with more cleaver design (such as Absynth and Alchemy) but also, as is the case with these two synths, by providing performance controls incl. XY controls in both synths.

With the new Alchemy Mobile this is extended via a wireless connection to a mobile device. Suffice it to say that using an IPad as an XY controller is easier than the small pad on my MacBook pro and has mirror graphics to boot.

What I find interesting about this evolution and paradigm shift (and it is) is that performance and sound design are now separated. With so many parameters the thought of changing them during a performance is daunting. With Alchemy Mobile, part of programming is to actually create a performance instrument.

I personally love this paradigm. It fits with how I now compose music. I am hoping that more synth will have mobile /performance versions of their synths and I very much look forward to this paradigm shift.

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