Friday, August 5, 2011

Home Concert Xtreme

This has got to be the BEST iPad app I have ever seen! I was completely sold when I first learned about Home Concert Xtreme by Zenph Sound Innovations through Mario Ajero's demonstration of the app 
Here's why it's SO cool. This app can:

Turn standard midi files into musical scores on your iPad
I thought about the collection and library of midi files that came with method books like Faber Piano Adventures, Alfred Publishing and the Hal Leonard series. They are all compatible with Home Concert Xtreme and the app displays the score right on the iPad once the midi files are imported. This alone is absolutely fascinating......imagine the entire collection of musical scores now available on the iPad. No more searching and carrying piles of music books around.

Turn pages automatically and provide orchestrations that match the performer's tempo, dynamics.
In other words, the performer is free to express his/her music as the app is intelligent enough to recognize the fluctuations in tempo and dynamics, imagine an orchestra or band that follows the soloist!!

I really salute the geniuses behind this amazing software. This app has provided me hours of fun exploring new music and I really look forward to using it during lessons. The library of midi files turned musical scores would also make a wonderful sight reading resource for students. It would be so much fun for students to play along with orchestrations and not to mention, this tool will definitely help students become more aware about the importance of staying on the beat.
There's much more that this app has to offer and I'm not going to go over all the bells and whistles on this post, feel free to read more about Home Concert Xtreme from Zenph Sound Innovations' website. In short, I'm really enjoying this app and this has truly become an indispensable tool in my studio. For those considering Home Concert Xtreme, you'll be happy to know that the app comes pre-loaded with a large collection of music and orchestrations from Faber Piano Adventures, Hal Leonard and Alfred Publishing to sample.

Meanwhile, here's a short video of Home Concert Xtreme in action with Christopher Norton's piece, "Celtic Lament" from Christopher Norton Connection Series. Yes, the midi files for the entire Connection Series are now available and compatible with Home Concert Xtreme. Enjoy!

20 comments:

  1. Can you explain what you need to have to plug into your I-pad? How do you get midi in out from keyboard to I-pad?

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  2. Hi BusyB, I attached a USB cable to my iPad via the Apple Camera Connection kit. The USB cable is then connected directly to my digital piano which has a USB port. In this case, I only need the Camera Connection Kit from Apple and a USB cable to connect my iPad to the Clavinova. Hope this helps.

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  3. Glad to hear that Home Concert Xtreme is working out for you, Wendy. It's still hard for me to believe that people like yourself are still discovering it from the HCX demo that I posted up on YouTube about 5 years ago! I should probably re-do it now that I've got better screen-recording tools.

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  4. Mario, how wonderful to hear from you! Needless to say, I was very impressed with Home Concert Xtreme after watching your videos and demo. I was convinced that it's an awesome tool and I'm so glad I purchased it. Thank you also for the wonderful tutorials on your blog.

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  5. I am so very interested. Before I purchase the camera attachment and the app I wanted to ask you about whether you see this being used during a lesson or in special circumstances and how you see yourself using it.

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  6. I absolutely will be using this in the studio. Of particular interest is the huge library of musical scores that I am excited to use as supplementary material and a sight reading resource for students. I like it that they are all in one place and easily accessible. I can also see how this tool would motivate students to practice because it is such fun playing along with the orchestrations. I anticipate that many families will be quite excited to acquire Home Xtreme for their children. I haven't had a chance to read the entire user guide for Home Concert Xtreme yet but I'm completely sold on the software's ability to follow the soloist by recognizing the variations in dynamics and matching the tempo wonderfully even with a rubato. This enables the pianist to freely express and experience a musical performance through a coordinated orchestral backing. Perhaps I'm not aware but I've not seen this capability with any other midi players yet.

    I was also delighted to discover that Home Concert Xtreme for the iPad works as beautifully even on basic touch sensitive keyboards that many families own :) You don't need top of the line digital pianos to enjoy Home Concert Xtreme!! It's awesome!!

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  7. Hi Busy B, I thought of a few more activities for Home Concert Xtreme for teaching and thought I'd share them.
    1. There's also the possibility for rhythm exercises on Home Concert Xtreme. Students can follow the score and tap the rhythm while the music plays. The tempo is adjustable and controlled from a slider bar. This offers an opportunity for students to "self check and correct", pin point and practice tricky rhythmic patterns.
    2. Solfege exercises can also be incorporated with the added benefit of an orchestral backing.
    3. And lastly, I thought improvisation would be interesting with an accompaniment! Something I'm looking forward to trying with students.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about the various possibilities for incorporating Home Concert Xtreme into the teaching studio. I'm excited!!

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  8. I appreciate you added comments very much.

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  9. Hi Wendy,
    You mentioned that Christopher Norton's Connections tracks will work. Arre these the ones that are online and you access with the codes in each book?

    BTW, I'm writing this on my new ipad!

    Thanks Wendy

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  10. Yes, the midi tracks for Christopher Norton Connection series are available on his website and you can access using the code in the books. :)

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  11. Do you know if Home Concert XTreme displays notation and the simulated keyboard for something an instructor would play in front of a classroom full of students? I'm looking for software on a Smartboard that would replace The Visualizer; software that would allow me to, on the fly, play, notate, and show depressed notes on a keyboard.

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  12. Hello Marta,
    Yes, Home Concert Xtreme can display a virtual keyboard and show the depressed notes of a given score, there is an option to turn it on or off. However, it's not a notation software so I don't think it's possible to actually compose with this tool since the software loads the score from a midi file. It would be best to check in with Zenph to inquire about the capabilities for the full version of HCX for MAC or PC.

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  13. Hello Marta,

    I have an iPad 2 and a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano and that Camera connection kit from Apple, but I can't get the iPad to recognize the Clavinova. How did you connect it ? Do I have to change some setting on the Clavinova in order for it to transmit the midi data or something? I used the USB to Host plug on the Clavinova to plug the USB cable from there to the Camera Connection kit USB plug on the iPad. Is that how you did it?

    Joey

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  14. Hi Joey,

    Yes I connected the USB cable from the Clavinova to the iPad through the camera connection kit. Once it's connected, you will need to go to midi set up on the Home Concert Xtreme app. It's the icon that looks like 2 blue wheels on the far right of the screen. You should then see an option for Digital Piano Port. Select that for Output A and B. I think that's all you need for the Clavinova to play back the midi file. Good luck and hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Wendy

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  15. Hi Marta,

    Ok, thanks so much for your seedy response. I will try that as soon as I purchase the Home Concert Xtreme app. I was just trying to see if it would work with some of the music apps I already have like Garage Band before spending the $40 on this app and then discovering that it wouldn't work with my piano. It sounds like this Home Concert Xtreme app did some special programming to make it work with a Digital Piano Port as opposed to just supporting the standard "Core Midi" protocol that most other music apps support. I couldn't get any of my other "Core Midi" apps to work with my Clavinova using the USB To Host port on the Clavinova or using my MOTU FastLane USB midi interface. I assumed it was because my midi interface wasn't built to support iOS devices and that I needed to go out and purchase a new midi interface such as the IK Multimedia iRig Midi or Line6 Midi Mobilizer that are designed specifically for iOS devices...which I still may have to do if I want my Clavinova to work with iPad apps like Garage Band, Music Studio and others.

    Does this Home Concert Xtreme app teach you how to play the piano or do you have to already know how to play the piano and it just accompanies you with a backup band and shows the notation and turns the pages for you?

    I'm curious because I have the program called "Piano Wizard" on my Mac laptop computer that is kind of similar to this Home Concert Xtreme app and the Piano Wizard program works great with my Clavinova and my MOTU Fastlane USB midi interface... the only problem is that I have to put my laptop on top of my beautiful Clavinova which looks ugly and messy with all the cables! LOL If I could do the same thing with this Home Concert Xtreme app and my iPad that would be simple and elegant and really cool! :)

    Joey

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  16. Hi Joey,

    I'm not so familiar with Piano Wizard so I can't really compare the features between Piano Wizard and Home Concert Xtreme. The HCX app does not teach you how to play although there is a learning mode to guide students through learning a song. Yes, I love it that HCX displays the score, turns pages and "follows" the performer through the music.
    I would highly recommend that you read the user guide on Zenph, it shows all the extensive features of the HCX for iPad and I'm sure you're going to just love it! Good luck Joey!

    Wendy

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  17. Hi Wendy

    I too was sold on the HCX app after seeing Mario Ajero using it.

    However i really have no idea what Midi files are and where to get them, could you provide some guidance please?

    Thanks

    Dave

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    Replies
    1. Midi is basically an interface that allow electronic devices and software programs to communicate and associate a series of electronic messages that generate and produce a certain sound on electronic devices (computers, musical instruments, cell phones...etc), software programs, and players.

      Here are the websites that offer midi files for sale. keystoimagination.com has midi files available for download immediately after purchase.

      http://shop.keystoimagination.com/MIDI-Files_c6.htm

      http://www.alfred.com/Browse/Formats/MIDIDisk.aspx

      sheetmusicplus.com

      I’ve also noticed that Zenph Sound Innovations has expanded their midi library, it is certainly worth a look especially with the addition of concertos now available for purchase. Pretty exciting!

      Good luck!

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  18. Nice one, thanks for the info and guidance Wendy. I've nothing much on this weekend so am looking forward to seeing what the HCX can do!

    Thanks again

    Dave

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  19. You're welcome Dave, I'm certain you'll love what you discover with HCX.

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Thank you for your comments and thoughts, I enjoy reading them

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