Review: Minimalism on iOS with In C Performer for the iPad

Terry Riley’s “In C” is one of the musical hallmarks of the 20th Century, essentially ushering in — along with La Monte Young — the Minimalism movement; greatly influencing composers like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, and others. Riley suggests using a group of around 35 musicians to adequately perform In C, but now all you need is yourself, your iPad, and an app.

In C Performer is a free iPad music app that lets you perform this minimalist classic while scaring both your cats as well as your significant other. It’s easy to pick up, and offers a wide array of internal sounds in addition to the ability to trigger external synths using MIDI. All of In C’s 53 musical phrases are in there!

In C Performer for the iPad Features

  • Perform Terry Riley’s In C for your Friends, Family, and Pets
  • All 53 Musical Phrases Included
  • Easy to Use Mixer-based Interface
  • Change In C’s Key, Instrumentation, Tempo — It’s up to You!
  • Use either Built-In Sounds for External Synths with MIDI
  • Available from the App Store for FREE

Developed by sonomatics, In C Performer supports iOS 7 and later. If you are curious about In C, what better way to learn it by diving right in using your iPad? The price is right!

Taking In C Performer for a Spin

In C Performer’s mixer-based interface is straight forward, with twelve “channels” used for selecting one of In C’s phrases, its sound, and its relative volume. Double tapping on faders groups them for controlling their level as a whole. A separate fader in the top right of the screen controls the level of “The Pulse” which plays eighth-notes in the performance’s key and tempo.

In C Performer Interface

In C Performer’s interface is easy to pick up. Screenshot by Author.

Yes, I said key. If In C isn’t up your alley, maybe In C#, In E, or In A flat might be? The app lets you control the key and tempo of your performance.

In C Performer Sound Edit

In C Performer lets you modify the sound, octave, MIDI channel, and note for each musical phrase. Screenshot by Author.

Tapping underneath each fader brings up a dialog box that allows selection of the channel’s sound, octave, and MIDI channel. You are able to use either the internal sound bank or external synths with MIDI. A pan control would also be nice, but I’m not complaining considering this is a free app.

All 53 In C Phrases are in There!

Above the fader is a label that denotes the current phrase, along with a color-coded collection of blocks that light up in time with the music. Each tap on this area selects the next higher phrase. The phrase selection part of the app’s interface needs improvement; allowing the rapid selection of the phrase number with a slide gesture would help greatly, or maybe a pop-up dialog box would be more straight-forward. Once again — it’s a free app!

With the iOS musician scene still in kerfuffle mode with the iOS 8 upgrade causing issues with Audiobus and other apps, it is refreshing just to dive into a free iPad app and perform a Minimalism classic like In C. The app is a must download if you have any interest in Minimalism or modern classical music.