Well, adventures in music making on the iPad have been ongoing, and here is the latest result of that work, my new downtempo track called “Veloant”.
I’ve had a couple people ask me about my process for writing songs on just the iPad, so I figured this a good chance to go into the details a little more. The main DAW I use to record and assemble all of the different parts of these songs is Auria, usually in conjunction with Audiobus. For Veloant, I started with a simple drum pattern in the DM1 app, just a quick sketch that would give me a rhythm to play over. Then, while I was recording the pattern playing into Auria, I would hit the Randomize button in DM1 to come up with some crazy variations on my simple drum beats. The best of these random variations were sliced and diced into new drum loops in Auria after the fact.
I also layered a simple kick drum loop over the initial drums, and came up with the more agressive sounding drums later in the song using the Alchemy app. These were set aside until I got further along in the arranging process later on.
With a simple drum loop recorded to provide me the right timing for the song, the next step was mostly like it is for all my songs. Using Audiobus, I would just jam over my drum loops with different synth apps recording everything in Auria to be picked through later on. This part of the process is where the meat of the songwriting process takes place for me, I’m recording all the different synth sounds that will make up the rest of the song. I think I spent about a week and half just jamming on different synths, going back now and then to trim out the best bits.
It certainly helped that so many awesome synth apps were released during the past week, namely Propellorheads Thor, Waldorf’s Nave, and a nice update for Sunrizer as well. Add to that my KMI QuNexus finally arriving (full review later this week), and I was pretty set for playing iPad synths!
At this point I had a nice collection of drum loops and synth parts recorded, and a rough frame work for the song itself, so I set about getting the arrangement completed. I was specifically trying to avoid a lot of fills and fancy edits in this song, so it was more about creating groove and motion rather than little bits of ear candy. It usually takes me a couple tries to get everything placed the way that works best for the material, but even then I think I managed to get most of the arranging done in one night.
As you can see, this song has only about 12 tracks in total, which I find is about the limits of where my iPad4 starts to geel slow when navigating Auria. I can certainly playback more tracks than this with no problems, but things like zooming and moving around the arrange page starts to lag. Rather than deal with the frustrations of that, I just aim to keep to a simpler song structure.
After living with the song for a couple more days to make sure I’m happy with the arrangement (especially in a slightly weirder song like this one), I’ll finalize the mixdown I’ve been working with while writing so far. In this track I ended up just a few EQ’s in Auria to tame some of the subs on the drums, and highlight different synth frequencies to avoid some clashing. The EQs in Auria are actually made by PSP, so they sound quite good despite having some rather outdated GUI’s for a touch device 🙂
Finally I mastered the song using the Fabfilter Pro-L plug in available as an additional purchase inside Auria’s plug in store. This was my first add on purchase from Auria, and overall the process was simple and went smoothly. The Pro-L plug in in Auria is identical to the one for the OSX and Windows, so while some might balk at the $40 price, it’s still a lot cheaper than the normal version and has all the same functionality. Given how much I use Pro-L for my mastering business, it was a no brainer for me.
And for the most part, that was it for this song!
Because Auria can export to Soundcloud, I decided to see how far I could take this iPad only way of working. I was pleasantly surprised too! Within 5 minutes of completing the song, I had uploaded it online, then used the Soundcloud app to post to Facebook and Twitter for people to listen to. While it’s not as ideal as hosting it in better streaming quality on my own website, it was an interesting experiment to see just how much I could use the iPad for music creation and sharing with my fans.
As always, hope you enjoyed the walkthrough on how this song was created. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and look for my detailed review of the KMI QuNexus coming later this week.