This is very amazing. For the past few weeks, Jim Plamondon, Steven Belknap and I have conversed with Michael Eskin about setting up jammer applications for Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, and the new iPad. The amazing part is how fast it all was. Of course, it's nice to have a way to try out the jammer idea too.
Michael has the chops not to only get these applications written but also meet Apples' standards review and get them quickly approved by Apple. They are already up on iTunes, a development deployment speed that leaves me breathless - and very impressed with Apple. The new applications are:
HexJam ($2)- Hexagonal Jammer Concertina for the iPhone or iPod Touch
HexJam HD ($2) - Hexagonal Jammer Concertina for the iPad
This guy turns your phone into a pocket concertina with 52 notes (3 1/2 octaves) literally under one fingertips.
One can fire up an iTune and jam along with it. Apparently it works really well with 2 iPhones too.
And, to boot it also runs on the iPad.
The same thing, but for the iPad. Both of these applications have their own built-in sound.
It links to an Apple or Windows PC (probably Linux too) wirelessly. There are simple instructions for hooking it up. There's no direct sound, but there is an added bonus:this app does have the ability to send controller (volume, expression, modulation, or breath controller) messages by tilting the device with adjustable sensitivity. It also works just ducky running (blown up 2X) on the iPad. With it one should be able to do even better than this remarkable demo of a man with a prototype jammer.
It links to an Apple or Windows PC (probably Linux too) wirelessly. There are simple instructions for hooking it up. There's no direct sound.
This is remarkable; in about five short years, we have gone from where it took Jim Plamondon, a gang of people and a largish fortune to just develop prototypes of jammers, to where it was implemented as a short project by one guy. True, he's working from the large body of background knowledge and work that's accumulated (I modestly point to these two Wikipedia articles: Jammer_keyboard and Wicki-Hayden note layout), and true, this 1.0 version does not have important musical features like velocity. But still ... it does give one pause.
Limitations: as in all version 1.0 products, there are some little limitations. The basic one is that we didn't get too fancy; Michael delivered what the basic apple application package could easily deliver. This means basically, one finger at a preset velocity per note, and fancy things like a thumb-pad area for the thumb, finger-tip expression control (i.e. vibrato), motion sensing and and ... all sorts of bells and whistles have been left on the workbench. Tough. Better okay and now, than perfect and never. Yet, even at this stage these applications go well beyond the toy.
My hope is that they sell well enough to encourage Michael to upgrade them to an expressive 2.0 version- if he does this, then these surprisingly versatile Apple products have an excellent chance of becoming - as amazing as it might seem - rivals to traditional instruments. As we've seen, small and portable and in your pocket trumps big and heavy and back home in the closet.
As they often say in the musical instrument industry ... Stay Tuned
1. We have some competition! The novel-instrument loving Jordan Rudess has come out with the neat Morphwiz($10) app (for the iPad only, despite what the title says). It has a fair number of options, and apparently can directly produce sounds. It's features are cool - and we're wondering how he got some of the effects.
You'll note it is much more a solo instrument for producing special effects and a few notes, rather than a melody + chord instrument, due to the linear layout. Personally, I believe array instruments like the jammer have much more power. The neat thing about this is you don't have to take my word for it; I'm sure some of you will try both and let me know what you think, in short order.
2. Here are some codes for the apps, supplied by Michael. Enter them on the "Redeem" area of the iTunes store just like an iTunes gift card: with the code the app is automatically downloaded to your app collection. Only valid in the US iTunes App Store:
HexJam (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad):
JNHRJK3TLKLF KNLXEH769HTL 7Y37P3N6ERRA M3K664Y3M7H9
HexJam HD (iPad only):
XWF3HXMJJR4H RPP9AL9LFRJF AMF4LLXLFPYJ 3M3LFHYR4KT7
mJammer (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad):
JHAX6PKEJH9K 96PEHHKMAJH9 7T4YL6M7P97N NHNXAXFT4MNJ
iJammer (iPad only):
99LN4FMTJXMM X4LYKLML4XPH P3XW4KTJYXRX EPPM9NKAJLEN