MorphWiz Wins 'Best Music Creation App' at Billboard Music App Summit
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-10-08)
If you’re like me, reading that headline in your inbox this morning was no surprise, not because I already knew that the app won ‘Best Music Creation App,’ but because it’s a continuation of what I believe is one of the biggest developments for the instrument since the keyboard was invented. For those of you who are like me, you’re probably nodding your heads in agreement, or at least have some form of excitement for what this all will bring. For those of you who actually don’t know what I’m talking about, take a shoe from your garage, walk into your bathroom, and hit yourself in the face with it several times for missing the boat. Or you could just keep reading and find out. Don’t worry. There’s still time.
The MorphWiz app is the brainchild of Jordan Rudess and Kevin Chartier, creators of Wizdom Music. It’s their first music creation app for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. Inspired by the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, the MorphWiz is the second instrument to think in more than just the X-axis, and the vertical axis is what’s changing the way we can move and create on the instrument. Imagine a fretless piano, one that allows you to slide between pitches freely. Imagine being able to actually pull off a sforzando-crescendo without a volume knob, controlling it only with the way you touch the pad. Or better, raising the volume and changing the waveform of a triad while keeping your bass notes constant – on the same keyboard. Before this dual-axis interface? Not remotely possible.
Check out some of the features for the MorphWiz:
• Over 80 custom Jordan Rudess-created patches
• Assign audio waveforms as visual shapes to the grid and morph between them with your fingers on the grid or the accelerometer.
• Advanced pitch control allows the player to round the pitch of the initial attack of any note. It also recognizes when your finger stops after a slide, and rounds your notes to the nearest diatonic pitch.
• Rounding pitch on initial attack.
• Rounding pitch after a slide.
• Independent pitch and synthesis control for up to 10 simultaneous notes.
• Finger Vibrato Effect (FVE) where you can achieve vibrato even when LOCK PITCH is selected and the pitch is snapping to the grid!
• Velocity Controlled Animation (VCA) in sync with your musical performance.
• Complete control over what parameters you see on the screen.
• Adjustable location for performance controls.
• Editing never interrupts the audio and visual output.
• “Trippy” full-color, animated particles, fire, and ring effects visually radiate under your fingertips and contain real time pitch information.
• Choose from a wide variety of scales and chords to assign to the playing surface with easy customization.
• Choose to display names of notes or intervals to help guide you.
• Consistent color display for pitch lines which indicate each step of the scale.
• Playing surface is adjustable between 1 and 6 octaves.
• Performance controls include octave shift, pitch lock on/off, record to delay buffer on/off, infinity delay setting on/off, and multi-function “Magic Slider.”
• Unison detuning effect with separate pan control for that classic analog thickness.
• Refined and intuitive Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis can be assigned to the vertical grid or accelerometer.
• Wave Sync Synthesis (WSS) can also be assigned to the vertical grid or accelerometer.
• Volume separately assignable to vertical grid.
• Adjustable note attack and release time.
• Infinite Track Loop (ITL) recorder features user-selectable measures and beats.
• Record Undo and Redo.
• Reverse play of recorded loops.
• Effects include digital delay, stereo chorus, and tremolo.
I first saw the MorphWiz app on the Dream Theater tour bus a few months back during an interview with Jordan Rudess, who was more than excited to show someone his new creation that was still in one of the top five slots on iTunes in the US, if not #1. The MorphWiz, like the Continuum, allows a whole new level of expressive control with highly organic, real-time, animated visual feedback, and Jordan quickly ran me through some of the main features. I was amazed at how much it could do from such a simple-looking interface. It’s a perfect mold of intuitive musical creativity and real-time visual control and response, and the sounds aren’t too bad either, especially for a MIDI based instrument.
Jordan Rudess, whose long-term use of the iPhone as a live performance instrument was featured in a September 2009 San Francisco Chronicle cover story, states, “I believe the iPhone and iPad multitouch platform opens up a whole new world of electronic musical instruments. We’re proud, honored, and humbled that MorphWiz, the first major offering from Wizdom Music, has received Billboard’s prestigious industry recognition. I want to thank everybody for making this happen, as I believe in this technology and that devices like the iPhone and the iPad play an important role in the future of music-making.”
He continues to receive accolades as a technological pioneer from people like David Mash, Vice President for Technology and Education Outreach at Berklee College of Music, who called MorphWiz “a 5 Star app,” that is “deep, powerful, sounds great, stable and well thought-out,” and “a very satisfying musical experience!” Jim Darlymple, founder of LoopInsight.com, took it a step further and said, ““Not only is Jordan a creative force in the music industry, he is also one of the leading influencers in adopting technology and meshing the two worlds together.”
For more information on the MorphWiz visit http://www.morphwiz.com, and for MorphWiz tutorials, visit http://www.morphwiz.com/tutorial.html.
James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working with his band, Shutterdown, on their debut album.
Feel free to e-mail James with comments, questions, concerns, at firstname.lastname@example.org