Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Concert Pianist Stephen Hough tests iPad piano apps, adds Kindle comments

Click on the image to get the video, in larger size.

Concert pianist and erudite blogger Stephen Hough tries out the iPad's basic piano app and then enjoys the Magic Piano app, on which he demonstrates how Lang Lang did Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee using that app during a pause during a concert and mentions that it could be quite useful for composers, eventually.

  At his popular blog, he describes the experience and his advice and is enthusiastic about many of its delights.  In the video itself, he says he will wait for the 2nd version though.

In the blog-comments area, his comments below did catch my eye:
' Johnno – but the Kindle is the real miracle, loved especially by travelling bookworms :-) I’ll write something about it sometime. '
... to which, he added a bit later:
' Peacenik – the Kindle is really wonderful.  I’m reading a new biography of Hans von Bulow at the moment and there’s no way I would be able to carry this huge hardback around in my briefcase … or be able to change to Trollope after 2 hours of Alan Walker … and then dip into some poetry, or the 60+ books that I have on there.  I loved reading Austerity Britain, but 800+ pages in print form? It would make my arms ache just to hold it. (And I was able to increase the size of the tiny print.) '
And two more there:
'Peacenik - every classic you can imagine (try the complete Dickens for $1.99) but also many new books for around market prices.  I love its footnotes function – click on the number and the window opens, rather than searching at the back all the time;  the dictionary can be useful, as well as the search function.  You know you read something about prunes in a short story but can’t remember where.  Type in ‘prunes’ and every reference will pop up in a list.

danielearwicker – [re an iPad app]  I’m still addicted to the Kindle’s lack of back-lighting though, but that sounds like an incredible app! '
This man knows his Kindle.

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  1. I really like the fact that he says honestly he doesn't really see it for a musician. I mean did Apple really think this was a good app for it?

    And the best advise I've heard anyone give is at the end when she says, wait for the next generation. I'm thinking that is going to be the one that changes a lot of things.

  2. igotnothing,
    I think they'll add a lot in the next gen too.

    I think the musical apps are just for fun though.

  3. While it may not have much potential as a musical instrument, I think iPad (together with third party accessory hardware) could be a very functional control surface for music electronics. In other words, it could replace a laptop used for this purpose. The touch screen would be a better fit in a performance environment than keyboard/trackpad, and it would look cooler.

    It might also be large enough to display music charts, etc.

    And it could serve as a very portable digital audio workstation or podcasting platform (as iPhones can be).

  4. Someday, Tomster, yes.

    Speaking of 'large enough' - the DX is the same screen size, I believe, though I think the iPad must be wider, and I have sheet music on it. Very useful that way, as far as size and convenience are involved.

  5. Tomster, no doubt used in that way it will be very useful. I just meant using it as a piano. However I could see a song/music writer using it as they may only need to concentrate on a few notes or even one note at a time. I meant strictly as a musical instrument.

    Imagine at a future date when your electronic gadget can unfold into something say 3 or 4 times as big as an iPad. Yep. The future is here folks.

    Isn't there also some kind of app on either the iPad or the Kindle where it plays music and shows you on musical sheets what notes are being played? Can't remember if I saw that or not.

    I'm really hoping that the next generation is the one to go with and it comes out right around Christmas time. I get my year end bonus and well.....

  6. Igotnothing,
    Hough was also initially talking about one of the apps as a piano substitute, sort of, but he said that the Magic Piano app could in a later edition be made very useful for composers and already was, in a way, with the random music generation mode he demo'd.

    I imagine showing the sheet music for the portions you're hearing is not at all difficult to do as an app for the iPad. I used to see them on enhanced CDs.

    But you've probably seen it on YouTube (also). I keep one example that is very illuminating at
    Prokofiev Etude Op. 2 #1

    For anyone wondering about the young pianist, see http://bit.ly/fchopin10_5


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