Rheyne performs live looping jams with analog keyboards, USB controllers, and (usually several) iOS devices. His set ups and uses of iPhones and iPads are very fun to observe; some of them even feature only iOS! Rheyne also designs his own custom Lemur templates to fit his specific needs – you can download his RhenyLooper Lemur template here. Incorporating all kinds of apps from controllers to synthesizers to instruments (to all 3), Rheyne truly is, an iOS Musician…
Tell us a little bit about you and your music!
I’m a classically trained piano player, and had parents who thankfully encouraged music and made me take piano lessons when I was very young. Once I got to Seton Hall University I started to have more fun with it, and while majoring in music, I played in various bands in and around New York City. In between band projects, I would record some solo compositions in Cubase, but there was nothing about the process I enjoyed enough where I could say I wanted to do it every day, until I discovered live looping. It took me awhile to find something which worked with MIDI and audio seamlessly, and initially explored solutions in Reaktor, but my programming knowledge stops at BASIC and drawing lines with the LOGO turtle. I was lucky Ableton Live already did everything I needed it to do.
I’m just dying to know… where do all the extra iOS devices come from?
Asside from your jams where you use two or more iOS devices simultaneously, would you use a foot pedal that switched between apps, if such a thing existed* (and just use one iPad)? Four finger gestures press buttons and turn knobs and the multitasking menu is just not ideal for a live performance…
What do you prefer about iOS controllers over hardware controllers?
I had a list of very specific needs to make my setup more ergonomic, and the hardware I was looking at had either too many rotary encoders and not enough pots, or too short of a throw on a fader… Lemur fixed everything for me. It’s great to have the ability to create a custom controller for a new jam or different situations. When used as a musical instrument, the latency keeps it from competing with hardware synths or drum machines like a DSI Tempest, but as a control surface I think it’s incredible and is the primary reason I went for the glass. I don’t want it to sound like I think synth apps are hopeless, far from it! I have some favorites and many of them explore sound design methods which you don’t find on hardware synths, so I think synth apps have a strong and useful presence now, and a strong future. They are extremely playable and expressive, and I don’t mean to make it sound like the latency issues are a show-stopper. Far from it!
Tell me a little bit more about your list of needs to make your setup more ergonomic. How iOS plays into it?
I remember watching a video about Moldover’s controllers like the MOJO, and noticed the way he had his buttons and sliders offset from each other to compensate for the shape of the human hand, or more specifically, the exact shape of his own hand. I basically did the same thing by laying my hand on top of the iPad glass with the Lemur editor open, and stretched the faders’ shape on the screen until they were the right length and width to match my fingers. I did the same thing with Lemur pages where there’s piano keys, by making sure the width of the key was the exact width of a real piano / synth key, so muscle memory won’t get thrown-off for someone who’s used to full-size keys.
Would you say you lost any playability with a touch screen?
I think if I approach it the same way as a piano key or drum pad, I will feel as though I’ve lost playability. I think if the touchscreen is viewed as a completely different thing, and if an app offers a playing style different than that of a conventional keybed (like Animoog‘s poly-pressure or the ability to create custom scales in the PPG WaveGenerator app), then the inspiration and playability will start to come. Even something like the visual feedback on the screen can be inspiring, such as NodeBeat‘s oscillating colors for its background or Animoog’s scope / XY pad, and it can make up for what a piano player might view as a lack of playability when compared to what he’s used to playing. It needs to be seen more for what it is, not as a replacement or a better solution to a conventional keybed, but as new medium offering possibilities the conventional keybed doesn’t offer.
It’s similar to a piano or electric piano player who tries an organ for the first time. An organ does not register velocity, and volume is controlled by a pedal. It totally alters your playing style, and riffs which work on a piano might not necessarily work on an organ, and vice versa. I think when someone’s spent a significant amount of years on the touchscreen (which isn’t possible yet since they haven’t been around long enough) people will really be able to show what’s possible, and I think Jordan‘s given some of the best examples of what’s possible in regards to playability of the glass. I’m still a novice at it. I’m curious to see what sorts of virtuoso glass players are out there in another 4-5 years!
Note: In case you were considering in investing in multiple iPhones/iPods/iPads, you can buy an iOS app once and install it on up to 10 iOS devices per Apple ID.