INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Wired OCTOBER 9, 2008 - by Eliot Van Buskirk
ENO AND CHILVERS RELEASE SWEET MUSIC APP FOR IPHONE
iPhones and iPod Touches are commonly used to listen to music, but several developers have been working on Apps that let you make music as well. One of the more interesting of these is Bloom, a collaboration between musician/producer Brian Eno and musician/software designer Peter Chilvers, who worked together on music in the video-game Spore. (Generative music is created by algorithms that dictate the progression from one note to the next.)
Bloom runs in two different modes: Listen, which plays an interactive generative composition, and Create, in which you create each note that plays in real time. Each tap of the screen causes a circle to bloom and a note to play, with higher notes located towards the top of the screen. If you hit the same spot on the screen, the same note will play (in other words, you're not just triggering notes from a pre-specified sequence, but creating new music on the fly). As songs play, the screen colours shift subtly, adding to the relaxing vibe of this app.
There's only one basic sound in the program: a celesta-like tone with reverb and tremolo, which could eventually get a bit old, but at least it's a nice sound. On the plus site, Bloom is fully polyphonic, so you layer lots of notes over each other.
Music continues to play while you mess with parameters in the settings menu, giving you additional ways to shape compositions. Settings include a toggle between generating new patterns or freezing an existing pattern in place, choosing length of patterns, a "shake to clear" feature that lets you shake the device in order to start a new song and nine oddly named moods that dictate how the music is generated (examples: Neroli, Vetiver, Ylang).
There's no way to save the stuff you've made, but that's missing the point; the whole idea is to interact with the music, not to create static stuff for later playback. As the Zen Buddhists say, you can't step in the same river twice.
Bloom, a relaxing alternative to just about anything else you can do with an iPhone, costs four dollars in the Apple App store.