Demos of apps by musicians are a great way to explore both their unintended consequences and their inherent strictures. In contrast with promotional videos, which generally show the app used by someone with advanced knowledge of its inner workings, initial demos by new adapters have a more hands-on feel, with the general sense of someone coming to grips with adapting something to their own musical style and performance workflow. What follows is one of Dean Terry’s demo runs through the iSEM app, which as its name suggests is an iOS adaptation of the 1974 Oberheim SEM synthesizer. He’s an especially good reference point. Not only is he familiar with the original, he has two of them in his studio.
Here are his notes on the piece, which has a steady, downtempo, stepwise flavor:
Quick test of the iSEM iOS app. This is a first patch with some live parameter noodling, driven by the built in arpeggiator. Single take, one track.
I have two actual SEMs in the studio. I think comparing is missing the point so I made something that took advantage of what this iOS app does best, which is modulation and polyphony. The best part is the 8 voice programmer which allows you to modify the sound for each of of 8 steps, which you can hear clearly in this test recording (except I’m only using 5 steps).
Recording notes: This is not exactly what the app sounds like raw. It was recorded via the ipad analog outs into outboard studio preamps, eqs, and a stereo compressor. It was then sent through a few mix bus eq’s and compressors in Protools. This is how I treat all iPad apps and other digital sources and it helps make them more vibrant and analog-like.
Two promotional videos for the app: