If you are a fan of Ambient music, the do I have a treat for you! The iPad Musician page on Facebook sees artists and developers interacting with each other. Sometimes, the developers are artists themselves. I’ve met quite a few of them now, and usually, they had developed apps out of necessity. There would be a specific task they would want to do, but no app would be available to complete said task, so what did they do? They made their own. I got to know Rob Jackson through the iPad Musician page, as well as his demonstrations on YouTube, where he would perform with apps like Animoog and Borderlands. He was very effective with both apps, and even created his own sounds for Animoog(at least, that’s my understanding). One day, while perusing the IPM page, I saw a post that caught my attention, something about an app that would auto-generate ambient drones and textures. I put in my two cents about this, and eventually, Rob asked me to beta test the app that would be Moodscaper.

Moodscaper is essentially an ambient music machine, looper and…well…an album, all in one app.

According to the initial literature, Moodscaper could be put into auto mode and create ever-evolving Ambient drones and melodies, with enough variations to the patterns, that it wouldn’t repeat for, like, nine hours. You have three moods that allow you to go light, dark, or spacey. The latest rendition has three loopers, that allow you to loop your perfomances and create your own “scapes”.

The interface is clean, with symbols depicting the functions and a 5×5 grid you can “play”. All you do is hit a loop button to arm the recorder, press a few keys, hit the loop button again to start playback, and you are up and running. When you press the additional play buttons, an auto accompaniment adds parts to compliment what you have played. The sounds are lush and it can keep you busy for a while without you knowing it. I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds generated from this app.

I’ve been following the progress of the updates and developments of the app since its release, and I must say, Rob has a few goodies in store for us, so stay tuned for updates.

Currently, Rob has only made the app available on iPhone, but I’ve tested on both my phone and iPad, so it will work on both. It is my understanding that Rob might create an iPad version, but I have no confirmation on that as of yet.

Here is the information on Moodscaper:

What is moodscaper?

Moodscaper is a generative music app and a great personal companion for studying, providing non-intrusive headphone music at work, relaxing, meditating and even sleeping. Just launch the app, tap automatic play, and moodscaper will produce melodic, atmospheric and evocative ambient music in a “light”, “dark” or “spacey” mood.

What does it actually sound like?

A bit like a string orchestra. But in outer space… Technically speaking, the unique sounds in moodscaper have been meticulously designed from scratch, using micro-sampling, wavetable and granular synthesis techniques to produce warm and rich timbres, with a hint of other-worldly spaciness.

There are lots of generative music apps out there – what’s different about this one?

Generative music apps are often little more than random note generators. I really wanted to make moodscaper as “musical” as I could and much of what it does comes from my own compositional style and music-making background.

It really makes up music by itself?

Yes! Starting with a randomly generated loop-based chord progression, moodscaper then generates a serious of melodic phrases that form the basis of an arrangement, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Typically, moodscaper will try to establish a melodic theme to begin with, for example by playing only the melody and / or perhaps doubled at octaves across two voices. On subsequent cycles, moodscaper will introduce variations, additional layers and chord substitutions to create a sense of movement over the duration of its performance. Finally, moodscaper will play a stripped back version of the melody it first came up with to serve as a musical coda. A typical performance will last around 3.5 minutes, and after a brief pause moodscaper will move on and try something different. While moodscaper adheres to certain stylistic rules relating to timing and harmony, none of these progressions and melodies are pre-programmed – they are created entirely on-the-fly, which means it is extremely unlikely you will ever hear moodscaper perform two identical pieces. You could even think of moodscaper as a virtual album that will never quite sound the same, no matter how many times you play it.

Is moodscaper also an instrument?

Yes! While moodscaper for iPhone is intended to be primarily a generative music player app to listen to, it is also a simple, but fun virtual instrument that you can use to create your own performances. There are three loop recorders which can be synchronized with each other, or run totally independently for evolving soundscapes. You also have access to some of the auto-generative engine features, so for example, with your own bass or chord progression running in one looper, you can populate the other loopers with melodies using the same rules moodscaper applies when in auto-play mode. Voices can also be set to accompany your main loop generating “good notes” automatically. These features combine to make for an intuitive and immersive music-making experience that is immediately rewarding and engaging. And because moodscaper supports background audio and IAA (Inter-App Audio), you can even play along using other virtual instrument apps, or record and process moodscaper’s sounds in IAA-enabled hosts.

Can I use moodscaper in my own projects?

Yes! You are free to use music generated by moodscaper in your own recordings and media productions, such as film, dance or theatre performances and art exhibitions on a royalty-free basis. All that I ask is that you include a simple credit containing the word “moodscaper” in your work.

Where can I find a tutorial or ask questions and make suggestions for new features?

The best place to stay in touch is via the Facebook page where you will also find links to tutorial videos.

Thanks – happy moodscaping!

So there you have it. Moodscaper, by Rob Jackson. I’d like to thank Rob for allowing me the opportunity to beta test for him, it was fun and I especially enjoyed communicating my ideas and comments to him.

You can purchase Moodscaper here:

moodscaper – Rob Jackson