A Little More Than Ticklin’: Exploring the Genius of Jordan Rudess

Embark on a musical exploration with hosts Jonathan Boyd and Ryan Withrow on the “Future of Music” podcast as they delve into the extraordinary talents of Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess and his groundbreaking music app “GeoShred.” In this episode, the duo explores the intricacies of GeoShred, an app that transforms iPads into powerful virtual instruments.

From its unique features to its impact on the landscape of music technology, this episode provides an insightful journey into the future of music creation.

Tune in for a captivating conversation that sheds light on the intersection of musical virtuosity and cutting-edge technology, featuring Jordan Rudess and his revolutionary contribution to the world of music apps.

The Legendary Keyboard Master : Jordan Rudess

Ryan wastes no time fawning over his musical idol, Jordan Rudess. As an ardent Dream Theater fan for over a decade, Ryan has followed Rudess’ mind-boggling progressive rock keyboard journeys closely and has seen him perform live multiple times. He even shares some cringeworthy stories of painfully awkward superfan encounters trying to meet his hero.

Beyond playing the piano, Rudess continually pushes boundaries by seamlessly integrating emerging music technologies like next-gen synth controllers, guitar pedals, and iOS music apps into his prolific playing and composition. This pioneering spirit across both physical instruments and software ultimately led him to leave his post with prog legends Dream Theater to found a music tech startup called Wisdom Music. Their goal – to develop groundbreaking virtual music instruments for the digital age.

The company’s flagship app release is GeoShred, a tactile digital guitar/synth controller that Jordan uses extensively live and in the studio. But as Ryan and podcast co-host Jonathan Boyd explore in-depth, GeoShred is far more revolutionary than just another musical iPhone app.

GeoShred: Immersive “Playing” not “Programming” Music

After gushing over jaw-dropping YouTube footage of Rudess shredding through an eclectic GeoShred guitar solo sequence, Ryan and Jonathan analyze what makes this new breed of virtual instrument so groundbreaking. In short, despite its humble tablet origins, GeoShred provides the same depth of real-time audio input, manipulation, and tactile control as a professional hardware synth rig…no musical stone left unturned.

Yet, unlike the typically complex menus and parameters of sound design on synths, GeoShred remains highly intuitive even for non-musicians. It lowers the learning curve substantially so creators can focus on spontaneous musical expression vs hunting for the perfect tone or drilling down through endless software options first.

As Ryan notes, the app interface is responsive enough for beginners to simply dial up desired scales/keys and start improvising. Yet there’s plenty of room to grow into more advanced playing techniques, alternate tunings etc. Just like a real guitar, it rewards practice through muscle memory and offers veterans like Rudess unparalleled “control of the most powerful guitar physical model ever developed.”

No matter one’s skill level, GeoShred delivers on it’s tagline promise: giving “you the power to make music that comes alive with expression.” The tactile interplay between performer and instrument facilitates the humanity at the heart of memorable music.

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Visions of Mainstream Adoption

Jonathan believes Jordan’s GeoShred experiment can finally take the concept of legitimate virtual instrument platforms mainstream. He expects a Cambrian explosion of music tech startups to follow suit now that the world has caught a glimpse of the immense creative potential waiting to be unlocked here.

Some will iterate on novel ways for virtual instruments to expand sonic palettes through touch/gesture integration. Others may double down on crafting best-in-class guitar/synth sound engines against which Jordan’s offering already sets a staggeringly high water mark. We’ll see specialization around target groups from kids to aging rock guitarists looking to jam again. Yet all roads lead back to keeping the user experience centered on fluid musical expression vs tech wizardry.

According to Jonathan, “this is one of those moments” akin to when the iPod first untethered thousands of songs once trapped in households…but now for instruments liberated from both cost and physical constraints. GeoShed paves the way for people everywhere to tap straight into their inner creative spirits.

GeoShred’s Future: Beyond Phones and Tablets

Delving into forward-looking possibilities, Ryan sees Jordan’s radical app concept continuing to thrive even amidst the impending rise of augmented and virtual reality. In his mind, the key ingredient behind GeoShred’s resonance is maintaining that physicality – musicians articulating expression through micro gestures of fingers on either strings or touchscreens.

He observes how this visceral tactile interplay between human and instrument simply can’t be authentically replicated in a simulated AR/VR environment…at least not yet. Thus, having at least one foot still planted firmly in traditional playing culture helps these novel virtual music experiments “fit like a glove” in their current form factor iteration.

Jonathan mostly concurs, noting the likelihood that our newest breed of touch/motion musically expressive apps inevitably migrate into more spatially immersive computing environments down the road. Instead of fixed tablets, the same musical manipulation mechanics will translate to free-air hand gestures and movement. This liberation from screens enables an even deeper sensory connection to the music in 3D space.

That said, Jonathan reiterates that the core concepts guiding design must remain rooted in physical expression. The overarching goal is heightening human music-making potential…not waxing poetic about whizzbang tech.

Personality and Preference Dictate Instrument Appeal

In a bit of a philosophical departure, Jonathan then correlates one’s affinity for traditional physical instruments versus boundary-pushing virtual music experiments like GeoShred to fundamental personality types and their preferred modes of creative expression.

He hypothesizes that kinesthetic personalities – those most in tune with channels like sports, dance, and movement arts – may inherently favor the raw tactile experience elicited from traditional instruments like guitars. Their stimulation arises from pure physical interplay.

But more cerebral, introspective types enamored with the endless depth of their mental kingdoms may embrace an app’s limitless sound possibilities over getting stuck with manual manipulation of musical machines. Their stimulation zone is idea origination rather than tactile technique honing.

As such, Jonathan believes GeoShred and its ilk masterfully bridges these two styles– marrying responsive visual feedback and physical gestural articulation with endless digital potential. The creative vessel cedes control to the player’s imagination alone over any limitations imposed by software or traditional instruments.

Parting Thoughts on Democratized Musical Expression

In the end, both Ryan and Jonathan agree that thanks to bold pioneers like Jordan Rudess willing to experiment in the radical fringes of music technology innovation, the gates of musical expression are now flung open to all…regardless of training, technique, or tools.

Apps like GeoShred bring that power and playfulness of creation and performance back full circle to the user. And the creative spark it ignites within is universally accessible to anyone starting from zero on their musical journey.

Visit Jordan Rudess’s website here.

Visit Wisdom Music’s Apps here.

Info for GeoShred here.

Just tap into your inner rockstar and let your imagination run wild! Then tune into Ryan and Jonathan’s full podcast discussion as they continue tracing the possibilities arising from the intersection of music and technology. Thanks to innovators like Jordan Rudess once again courageously pushing boundaries, the future sounds truly groundbreaking for musicians everywhere. We can all tap into creative flow states never before possible.


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