Brian Eno, the famed producer behind some of U2′s finest work, is otherwise known for his ambient music. I have most of his recordings, all groundbreaking, but the iPhone/iTouch application, Bloom, takes Eno’s craft to a new dimension. Bloom is a visualization of sound and music quite like what one would expect in a sci fi movie. The music droning in the background, the user taps the screen to create a melody. With enough taps, several coherent melodies can be played at once. I sometimes leave it running in the background, allowing it to make its own song, only occasionally touching the screen to blend new tones into the melody.
The interface is profound: a mere screen of color and “blooming” spheres, which represent tones. Unfortunately, the YouTube videos I’ve found demonstrating Bloom don’t capture the mood (this is not a criticism; I tried to make my own, but with little success). Nevertheless, here are a few demonstrations, some quite good –
Someone’s first impressions:
Found this demonstration after writing this entry; it’s very good:
Bloom and Koi Pond (another iPhone app):
The baby’s response is priceless:
Bloom on the Internet:
1. DownloadSquad – Bloom: Brian Eno’s ambient music app for iPhone
3. The Guardian – Brian Eno’s Bloom: new album or ambient joke?
4. Paste Magazine — Brian Eno’s “Bloom” sets the gold standard for iPhone apps
Bloom can be set to one of nine “moods” — I’m guessing some of the ambience is drawn from previous recordings, such as Neroli. As one touches the screen, a tone is played. It, or a series of tones, will repeat according to the user-controlled delay setting. Multiple tones can be played at once, and shaking the device erases existing tones.
Strangely, it does not appear one can play too many notes at one time. Using ten fingers, I tapped as many notes as I could, producing an oddly pleasing melody, much like falling rain. It may be that while each tap produces a “bloom,” not every tap produces a tone, but perhaps I am mistaken. It may be that earlier notes fade as newer ones are generated. I can’t decide.
The effect is like what one sees and hears when it rains. The melody might be random, seemingly disorganized — chaotic even — but a discernible organization can be noticed. Perhaps that is a “trick” of the mind. One hears distinguishable melodies, much as one might find a melody in the rain, in the pitter patter of falling drops.
Unattended, Bloom plays its own melody, perhaps a programmed melody, though it appears that Bloom may be recycling previous inventions.
In “listen” mode (what is described above is from “create” mode) new tones can be introduced, which blend masterfully with the existing tones. One can leave Bloom entirely unattended. It makes its own melody.
Certainly, one can produce “bad” blooms, unmusical combinations of notes, but eventually cacophony becomes euphony, the tones blending into new sounds. Bloom is not a passive musical experience, it is an engaging process of sound and discovery.
Some possible improvements of a technical nature:
1. Allow the user to set the “fade,” i.e. the number of tones that can be played in a given duration, or else let the user adjust the duration, not merely the delay.
2. Allow the user to export their creations as mp3s.
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