Harmony Department assistant professor Steven Kirby presented a session about using the iPad for gigging at this year’s Berklee Teachers on Teaching faculty development conference. The following are the highlights from his presentation.  

I’m Steven Kirby, faculty in the Harmony Department here at Berklee. On Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 , I and three other colleagues gave a presentation on the use of the iPad in performance applications as part of Berklee’s annual Berklee Teachers On Teaching conference (BTOT). The other contributors were Mike Carrera (manager of faculty technology services), David Harris (Harmony Department), and Michael Bierylo (Electronic Production and Design).

The session was only one hour long so we had to cover a lot in short period of time. We had about 30 participants. There were many questions and some lively discussions around the various topics and pros and cons of the apps.

Mike Carrera started things off with an overview of some of fantastic apps and hardware which can be used to record and manipulate digital audio. A list of his recommended apps are listed below. A highlight of his presentation was the app  called “Reactable”… a realtime performance application that is rapidly growing in popularity and which is based on an interactive performance environment developed and used by the unique and creative recording artist Bjork.

Mike covered:


– Apple Camera Connection Kit (for USB device connection)

– Line 6 iRig/Apogee jam/Peavey Ampkit Link

– Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer

– Alesis IO Dock

Performance Software

– Garage Band

– MorphWiz/SampleWiz

– Amplitube/iRig

– Filtatron/Animoog

– djay

– Reactable

– ReBirth

– Setlist

– iKaossilator




Notation Apps

The next segment was presented by me and designed to highlight specifically music notation  apps…i.e. apps that facilitate the reading and production of sheet music on an iPad.

I zeroed in on three apps: forScore and iGigbook for sheet music and mentioned another app, iRealb, which is for chord charts.  I also talked about the importance of a having a foot-controlled page turner and highlighted a few of those.


Pro: The most elegant, full featured score reading app and it works well  with foot operated page turners.

Con: No importable indexes available..you must make your own “live” table of contents and enter searchable metadata if you want that… a lot of work!

Site: forscoreapp.com/

YouTube demos:




Pro: Has a at least 30 indexes for all the most commonly owned fake books…importing them takes a little fiddling around but once they are in your app you can find any song, in any book, in time it takes to type the first few letters of the title. This means you can access one song out of thousands in about 3 seconds.

Con: Currently it has annoying limits on it’s functionality with page turners. Bluetooth foot pedals only work with this app when you are viewing song from the “Gig Set List Viewer.” Also it will only turn pages forward (though there is a sometimes useful work-around for this if you set up repeats / DCs /DSs etc with the app functions that allow for that.

site: igigbook.com/

forum: forum.igigbook.com/

video review: youtube.com/watch?v=w4jmELJD5z0&feature=related

iRealb (only a chord reader but has many other useful functions too)

YouTube demos:



Some people own all three apps and use then for different situations.

  • Use forScore for your own music library (original charts etc) which you bookmark yourself;
  • Use iGigbook for fake books;
  • Use iRealb for practice/ performance related teaching and in gig situations where you don’t need to read the melody

Hands-Free Page Turners

Bluetooth: (no wires!)

Airturn BT105: (approx $130) (works well..has the longest lasting battery but be careful to charge it before 1st use)

site: airturn.com/

review: youtube.com/watch?v=80OVgx5Q7T4&feature=related

PageFlip Cicada: (about $80) (most versatile, works great)

site: pageflip.com/





Footime (about $40)   



The third segment, presented by professor Michael Bierylo, concentrated on apps for electronic music performance.

iPad Apps for Electronic Music Performance

Michael Bierylo: There are three main categories of iPad apps used in performing electronic music.

1. Controllers: Apps that allow the performer to control software applications running on a host computer.

2. Sequencers: Apps that combine a sound engine with some sort of step and pattern-based sequencing capabilities.

3. Synthesizers: Electronic instruments that either try to emulate a keyboard synthesizer or use the iPad interface to provide some unique means of control.

Some suggested apps:

App Developer Cost Notes
Touch OSC Hexler 4.99 Toolkit for building controllers.
touchAble AppBC 24.99 Dedicated controller for Ableton Live
iElectribe Korg 9.99 Software emulation of a classic Korg beatbox.
BeatMaker2 INTUA 19.99 Workstation beatbox developed for the iPad
TNR-i Yamaha 19.99 iPad version of the Yamaha Tenori-On
iMS-20 Korg 9.99 Software emulation of a classic Korg analog synthesizer
SynthX Way Out Ware 9.99 Analog synth with touchscreen performance interface.
Animoog Moog Music 9.99 Analog synth with animated visual sound control.
Reactable Reactable Systems 9.99 Unique construction kit for building electronic instruments. 

Finally we included some apps suggested by David Harris, who also uses the iPad in performance frequently.

Useful soft synth/sample player apps for the iPad:

GarageBand: very useful a. Piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzter, B3 with working drawbars, Leslie fast/slow, percussion, chorus, and distortion.  Able to use loops made on computer.

Animoog– new synthesis engine from Moog with very cool sounds. Able to use touch screen to change modulation live.  Presets or make your own.

Nlog– retro analogue synth, with filter control, pitch and modulation wheels.  Presets with some programming

Pocket organ– dedicated B3 emulation with drawbars, percussion, leslie fast/slow, key click, vibrato and chorus, reverb and overdrive

Other  useful music programs for iPad/iPhone:

Amazing Slowdowner: Same as Mac program, somewhat less controls but excellent for slowing down sources and keep pitch to transcribe

V Control: virtual faders and controls for Protools, Logic etc. Great for recording yourself or adjusting mix from other places in the room

iRealbook: no melodies, but chord lead sheets for hundreds of tunes.  Will play a reasonable accompaniment in jazz, funk, rock, bossa. Great for students to practice with. Edit changes or write your own—very easy.

RTA: 1/3 octave realtime graph of db spl over audible frequency in free version (lite).  Full version adds mic calibration, pinknoise generator, external mic support, decay options.  Part of larger package (AudioTools) with loads of proaudio necessities.

Metron: programmable metronome

Tuner: shows either note name ( and how much flat or sharp) or graph showing all frequencies( great for displaying overtones to students)

Shazam: Identifies tunes playing on radio and directs you to itunes or Amazon if you want to buy it.

Lesley Mahoney
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