Touch, transform, and explore sound with granular synthesis, a technique involving the superposition of tiny fragments of sound, or “grains," to create complex, evolving timbres and textures.
“The best app for exploring sound just got better... This is 'go out and buy an iPad to run it' good stuff.“ -Peter Kirn, Create Digital Music
“Borderlands has floored us. It is very rare that we find an app that is not only fun to use, but extremely useful. It is truly inspiring. The interface is stunning, the sounds are so evocative: they're a film composer's dream.”
Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian, Film Composers (Tsotsi, Rendition, Eye in the Sky)
“It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely great. It goes in a completely new direction. I wish software companies would make more [programs] like that for the computer and not only for the iPad.”
Christian Fennesz, Experimental Musician. Interview from Tiny Mix Tapes, May 2014
“When I first saw the demo video for Borderlands Granular in 2012, my jaw hit the floor. My first thought was ‘THIS is what making music on an iPad should be.’”
Sean Garland, iOSMars.com
"The pre-eminent ease of handling the application while it performs extremely complex realtime computations of granular synthesis is truly impressive and allows the user to concentrate fully, and in a very playful way, on the creative process."
2013 Prix Ars Electronica Jury for Digital Musics and Sound Art
Create, drag, and throw pulsing clouds of grains over a landscape of audio files, or use the built-in accelerometer to sculpt sound with gravity.
Borderlands comes ready to play with default sample content included, but you can also load and export your own sounds via Audiobus, Audioshare, and real time input from the mic or external audio interfaces. Re-sample recordings made within the app on-the-fly for layers-upon-layers of granulation.
You can also improvise alongside the app - touches and parameters may be recorded, looped, stored, and duplicated. Entire configurations of clouds, sounds, and automation can be saved into presets, or “scenes,” that may be recalled at a later time, allowing Borderlands to seamlessly transition between the studio and the stage.
More information is available at www.borderlands-granular.com
// Tempo sync
-Clouds may optionally sync their grain triggers to the global tempo with Ableton Link support.
-Tempo sync works with or without connected Ableton Link clients
-New sync division (1/256 notes up to 4 bars), beat offset (triplet, dotted, etc), and sync phase parameters when beat sync is turned on for grain cloud.
-Tap tempo control for beat synced grain clouds.
//New Parameters For Grain Clouds
-Semitone tuning option for grain clouds with 6 octave range (-36 to +36 st)
-Grain trigger probability
-Optional Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release (ADSR) envelope may be turned on and modified for each grain cloud.
-A trigger pad appears inside the grain cloud and allows simultaneous envelope triggering and dragging of the cloud.
-The trigger pad and envelope parameters are fully automatable via the same gesture recording method used throughout the app.
-Sound file position, size, and rotation may now be automated with gesture recording.
-“Ghost clouds” now appear for automated clouds when they are touched. Primary cloud stays stationary, making it easy to capture/edit clouds actively moving around the screen. Ghost cloud continues to move grains down the automation path, merging with the primary cloud when editing is complete and the cloud is no longer touched.
- "Background touch modes” - touch screen background to activate ghost clouds for all automated grain clouds, second touch to pause all parameter automation, third touch to pause all position automation.
-Global automation speed can be increased to 40x original speed. New automation speed is recorded relative to current global automation speed.
//Input / Output changes
-New “Waterfall” input mode streams audio in from right to left allowing for complex granular FX. Original looping mode is still an option and can be set per sound.
-Files support allows easy access to the Borderlands documents directory.
-Overdub level allows sound on sound realtime input recording
-New audiobus trigger for adding input recordings.
-Audiobus 3 support
-Borderlands Presets and Artist Scenes section added to scenes browser with example content.
-Longer max grain duration - 6 seconds. Older scenes will still load with 3 second max.
-48 and 96 kHz sample rate options
-Input can be monitored anytime, not just when audio is recording.
-Realtime input buffers now use double buffering to reduce playhead conflicts with grain playback.
-Tempo and automation speed values are now saved / loaded with scenes
-Clouds can be rotated and moved simultaneously by touching and dragging with two fingers.
-Cloud position can now be automated while cloud is in parameter edit mode.
-Automated clouds only delete when full path is offscreen (i.e. no accidental deletion of clouds that have been automated)
-Parameter automation begins playback on touch release.
-Two finger touch of automated cloud pauses automation when cloud is not in edit mode.
-Pitch, duration, vibrato, and volume now impact grains as they are playing (rather than being queued for the next grain), resulting in responsive, instantaneous parameter changes.
-“Open blank” option in settings allows you to load blank workspace on launch
-Drop folders of sounds into the documents directory. Folder becomes header in the recordings browser.
-Switched keys to dark gray
-Solo clouds by with mute button and cloud touch
-Input recording from line in / mic is working again on iOS 12.
-IAA loading issues fixed.
-Gravity / cloud edge mode functionality now works when app is in the background
-Fixed crash that could occur when deleting clouds while accelerometer is on.
-Pan automation values now update properly.
-Blank scene can now be saved without freezing the app
-Location services removed from app
-Removed airplane mode notification
Ratings and ReviewsSee All
Great app but with frustrating file management
Borderlands is a great granular synthesizer.
But given that it's entire purpose is to work with samples, the sample management options are frustratingly limited.
In order to load a sample or save a recording from within Borderlands, one must use AudioShare, an additional $5 app.
Thankfully Borderlands does support AudioBus, but that's quite a roundabout approach, because it requires a sample playback app, routed into borderlands for recording, then yet another app for recording the output from borderlands yet again. This is not ideal when working with long samples, nor is it ideal given notoriously unstable iOS app reliability when working with large samples in small device memory capacities, nor is it ideal when there may be any number of different sample rates or bit-depths between apps, resulting in questionable audio quality.
Supporting an industry standard file management solution like Dropbox or even the freely available (and industry standard to a lesser extent) AudioCopy would cure a major headache.
Developer Response ,
Thanks for your feedback (and apologies for the very, very delayed response). I am still working on the app (it's a side project amidst other work and family commitments, so the timeline is slow). Looking to support Dropbox and the new Files api asap. I went with Audioshare for Version 2 at the advice of the iOS music community since Audioshare is the standard swiss army knife for file management on iOS.
Hope you're still able to get some use out of the app regardless.
True touchscreen instrument
A steal at any price, and a touchscreen legend.
Borderlands was the first app - and still the most unique IMO - that really took the touchscreen concept and its capabilities and transformed the iPad into an actual musical instrument. I jumped on board v1.0 in 2012 and never looked back.
A bit of history - in 2012 the very new community of iPad musicians totally fell for this app, and when it became apparent that real life had slowed the apps development after its initial release, the community of Borderlands users not only maintained their enthusiasm but also continued to grow the user base despite the "advanced beta" characteristics of v1.0. It reached legendary status as the oldest app in the App Store that you absolutely could not do without, and every iOS update would be quickly followed by a chorus of "yeah OK but does Borderlands still work on it?"
When the update dropped years later, minds were blown everywhere. As the greatest iOS app ever to be rescued from history by its own developer, even an Alchemy iOS update would not touch this - as great a synth as it is, Borderlands was pioneering AND legendary AND is still the most unique instrument on a touchscreen. Bar none.
Developer Response ,
Thanks so much for the incredibly kind review and for supporting the app!
Sound Design Secret Weapon
I’ve been hesitating to write a review because it will be my not-so-secret weapon now, but I’ve been able to create a lot of very useful material with this app. I’ve been creating sound for video, stage, and environmental applications, and I’m always surprised how I’m able to generate fresh new sounds from any recordings I put into the app. Once you get the hang of the workflow with Audioshare, it’s a snap to get the output up to Dropbox (or elsewhere) and over to my laptop or other devices. I hope they keep updating this app. Adding some nice reverb, delay, and compression effects would be great.
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.