Ever since the iPad was launched in April two years ago, there’s been a lot of development within the music industry in response to the introduction of this immediately popular product. Along with the iPhone, new and innovative ways have been created to identify, discover and create music.
I’m going to show you some of the ways having an iPad has changed the way we find and create music. To find out exactly how far it’s changed the way we do music, it’s important to highlight the static things; the unchanged aspects of our musical lives, as it allows us to highlight the extent to which the iPad has changed things.
Let’s dive in.
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Before apps, it was difficult to identify music. You either could put a name to a song, or you couldn’t. Nowadays, we have services such as Shazam and SoundHound for the iPad that we can use to identify a song stuck in our heads and be given a link to the album, all within about 10 seconds.
Shazam and SoundHound have removed the tortuous "what am I humming?" dilemma.
The way these apps work is that Shazam, for example, has a song played into it – this song would produce its own unique fingerprint, i.e. a peak frequency and a second frequency. This would then be compared to the database of frequencies in Shazam’s database, and if there’s a positive match, you get the song. It seems a little CSI-style for such a simple task, but that’s only in comparison to how it used to be. In the end, these kind of things are bound to become closer and closer to public use over time.
As far as I know, this kind of service didn’t exist before apps, so that’s a big change in the way we interact with music.
Not only can we identify songs we’ve heard, but we can discover new music right from the comfort of our laps. We have Spotify and iTunes available on our iPads. All of this technology was available beforehand, but not in quite such a neat package.
iTunes is still transforming the way music is sold.
It’s not really the iPad as much as iTunes as a service that has really changed how we do music. What the iPad does do, however, is compile all of these services into a touch-based platform that we can access on the fly with incredible interactivity.The tools haven’t changed, but the places and the ways we use them have.
The experience of composing music on the iPad is simple, easy-to-use and portable. Entire DAW’s have been made available for use on this relatively small device. We take this and utilise it by harnessing one-off, spontaneous inspiration, sit down with the iPad and let it all out.
Composing, and recording, music has never been accessible to many. With apps such as GarageBand and its smart instruments, you have a whole world of opportunity that anyone can get their heads into. Regular people start creating pieces of music they wouldn’t even have considered trying to make, purely because it’s so easy.
Garageband on the iPad is supremely accesible.
I would say serious composers have started composing more often too due to the simplification of the tasks. If anything, I’ve used my iPad countless times on holidays and such to lay down a little beat or tune that I’d later develop into a full song. It really is a great thing to be able to get so much out of so little.
So How Far?
What the iPad has done, in essence, is take some of our musical experiences and made them far simpler, more interactive and put them all into one place. It can be argued that the developers are to thank there and not the actual machine itself, but without the iPad as a platform, the ideas for such simple creativity wouldn’t have arisen.
Overall, I’d say the iPad has changed the way we do music, but only incrementally. Whilst the experience has been made simpler, it hasn’t drastically changed our everyday encounters with music.