Friday, July 27, 2012

Impressions of Tachyon

As some may know, the musical wizard and I instrument maker Jordan Rudess has just added another musical offering (Bach reference intended) to his now impressive collection of I apps.

For a while now I have been collecting I apps for music. I find them hard to resist at such low prices. Tachyon is certainly well worth the $2 investment and also a lot of fun as Jordan's I instruments all are.

Tachyon offers the ability to cross fade some conventional and some unconventional music instruments by using the IPad as an XY pad with visual feedback. It also offers pitch bending with a few extra tools and the ability to sample different scales which is a trademark and plus of the wizards musical fair.

Now I am not a believer as some are that the next evolution in soft synth is going to be to the IPad. I don't think that is what it was designed for but rather an intermediary between an I Phone and laptop or so in the word of the fallen creator may he rest now in peace. I Pad musical apps to me are good musical fun but they also have a serious side not as full blown soft synths but as controllers. I believe that Camel Audio with Alchemy Mobile is stepping up to the plate here.

I was recently very impressed by Camel Audio's Alchemy Mobile with it's IPad based wireless control over Alchemy's performance section. I would personally love to see more apps like it.

But let's face it. Alchemy Mobile's interface and that of the new I offering of Lemur lack the visual feedback that Tachyon and other Jordan Rudess I musical apps have.

One complaint I have regarding Alchemy mobile is why they made the XY pads so small? All that had to be done is make them at least as large as the bottom half of the screen, put performance controls on top and then toggle between the two XY pads.

But what intrigues me about the Tachyon and for the matter the Rudess arsenal of apps is the visual and alternative scale aspects. While Jordan may not have had this in mind I think back to the two directions Moog and Buchla went. One favoring a traditional keyboard so that Moog would find it's way into the pop or at least progressive genres and Buchla never seeing a synthesizer in terms of more tried and true paradigms that harken back all the way to the harpsichord.

Another paradigm breaker with it's workbench is the Eigenharp. One is not limited to the 13 half step scale that heathens back all the way to Pythagorus.

Of course, one limitation remains like the smile of the famous cat of Carol's fame is that of the MIDI matrix that continues to dominate and limit vision and yes, I know that offends those whom MIDI has become a religion.

So why not make one axis in Alchemy a parameter and another pitch but flexible in a Rudess or Eigenharp sense. Or, to borrow from the Voyager (and I think there is a module out there that escapes memory) to use area of the finger. Unless of course some genius makes spongy Continuum/IPads or holographic. I can dream can't I?

And last but for the sinisthetics, to coin a word, the joining of things visual and sonic. Kudus to the Wizard Rudess for this. Well done! Iconic pixilated clapping hands. Not only for the pleasing visuals but the mind mapping like hierarchical menus that pop in and out of the I ether. Elegant indeed! Paradigm crushing! No longer cartesian grids for menus born of an early text age.

But Perhaps the most significant (winking icon in Camel Audio and soft synth makers direction), an I controller that provides visual feedback. Brilliant!

My point, however thinly veiled on the poetic (to much Poe does that to me) is that the Tachyon while fun, may not have the power of kitchen sink synth but it acts more like an instrument breaking away from the stayed paradigms of Greeks bearing scalar gifts and harpsichords of ivory fair now imprinted on I screens.

So, the question is do the soft synth makers have vision. Well do you? Perhaps some may read this and follow the white rabbit.

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