Hello my name is Rob and I’m a failed media composer. I hope this intro isn’t too long and boring…
I’ve done lots of music for lots of things you’ve never heard of, although a “career” highlight was undoubtedly collaborating on the musical backdrop for (BAFTA awarded) Tricia Dingle’s exit from UK’s popular soap, Emmerdale. Afterwards, I was the go-to guy for a death scene, but perhaps ironically, this was short-lived.
I moved to Edinburgh in 2016 so I could clamber up Arthurs Seat and try come up with ideas for sampled instruments. I did actually see Mr Henson up there one day, returning from a video shoot and wanted to say “Hello – are you Christian?” but thought it might be a bit weird and too Deja Vu, so I bottled it.
I’m also an iOS developer and started developing my own generative music apps for iPad and iPhone about five years ago. All my apps to date are built around sampled instruments, initially created in Logic, then “ported” to iOS.
By far, the thing I like most about sampling is creating the “impossible instrument”, i.e. something that couldn’t really exist in the the physical world as we know it. My pianoscaper and guitarscaper apps are baby steps in that direction.
I’m also somewhat obsessed with the idea of enabling people who wouldn’t consider themselves musicians, to make music, and therefore becoming, by definition, a musician. I tried to do this with my touchscaper app by dispensing entirely with the piano keyboard (cries of Judas!) and having the concept of radar and ribbon performance surfaces based on pre-defined chords and scales. I used my touchscaper app entirely for my entry in the Westworld scoring competition, but sadly there wasn’t a category for “imaginative use of an Apple Pencil during a live scoring session”.
I discovered pianobook via Christian’s channel right around the time I think we were both trying to get our heads around “Dave”, aka the Logic Sampler. My latest app (moodunits) includes a very simple sample-based instrument called Waverley – spot the Edinburgh reference. My pet name for it is actually Daverley, who I like to think of as Dave’s under-achieving little brother for iPad and iPhone.
I’ve been wanting to share something with this community for ages now, but have been struggling to come up with an idea for something I wouldn’t immediately be utterly ashamed of, given the standard on show here. It would be too easy for me to simply re-package one of my moodunits instruments, but first of all, that would be totally boring, and secondly, there are compromises I have to make on the iOS platform that I could be free of on the desktop.
All this to say, I have an idea for a contribution and it isn’t a piano. I’m hoping to get that done this month sometime. It’s definitely one of those things where I’ve zero clue if it’s going to come out sounding useful, dare I say, even inspiring, or simply “meh”. I guess you folks know better than I do, that’s one of the many joys of sampling!
Disclaimer alert! I hope this doesn’t sound like a shameless plug for my apps. If I was into that sort of thing (which I’m not) this isn’t the kind of community that I would be shamelessly plugging at anyway.
To round off my rambling “bio”, I also play guitar and tried to do it for a living for a few years. My two dubious claims to fame in that regard are sharing the bill with Kate Tunstall when I was using a looping pedal and she was not… and playing a solo gig to 5000 bemused Paul Carrack fans at the Royal Albert Hall, where I was described in a review as “having the onstage demeanour of an affable supply teacher”.