Making Lemonade, Part 1

As Patrick recently mentioned, we had some setbacks that have delayed our cartoony iPhone bomb-disposal game, Alert! Safety Boom!.

I’ve recently been busy trying to turn this into an opportunity, working on some audio applications. The first of these hit the App Store this morning: Sylo Synthesiser.

It’s an iPad app that features a musical keyboard; rather than trying to sound just like a piano, or reproduce a particular bit of arcane technology from years gone by, you can use it to make music (or special effects) using something called granular synthesis, a technique that we’re not aware of anyone else putting into practice on the iPad.

Simply put, it takes the basic sound you put in — a recording using the built-in mic, say, or an artificial sound from Sylo Synth itself, or an instrument you might already have in your sound library, if you’re a musician — and breaks it down into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces, called grains (like grains of sand).

Sylo Synthesiser then reassembles these pieces, but it can take the opportunity to make changes as it does so. It can put them back together as they were, to give you an “80s sampler” effect, but it can also “time-stretch” them out until your short recording lasts for a minute or more — without changing the pitch. Or play them backwards. Or scramble the pieces to make something completely new — for example.

Sylo Synthesiser is also free. You can download it now and check it out. You can try out all the sound-making features and play music with it as much as you like, free of charge.

If you find it useful, you might want to upgrade to the “pro” version, from inside the app itself. This gives access to features that make your life easier — our favourite is Dropbox support.

If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, it’s an online file storage service with some really nice features. Possibly the best is that new files added to your Dropbox are automatically synchronised across any machines (computers, phones, iPads, etc) that you have signed in to that account.

In practice, this means if you log into Dropbox from Sylo Synthesiser, whenever you save a recording, it can save it to Dropbox too — which means it will be wirelessly synced to your computerfootnote 1. No need to plug your iPad in via USB, crank up iTunes and rummage around for the files (though you can do that too, if you don’t want to use Dropbox). Simply save the file on your iPad, and it’s on your computer, automatically, within seconds! This is a huge time-saver, not to mention faintly magical. :)

1. Obviously, your iPad needs an internet connection for this to work! If you’re on “3G” and don’t want to use up bandwidth, you can simply flip the switch that appears when you tap the Save button, and Sylo Synth will store your audio just on your iPad.