Transform the sound of an espresso steaming or a bike chain clicking into cool compositions with a new app from Incident.
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Whether it's the tink of your spoon against your coffee mug, the hum of your refrigerator, a neighbor mowing the lawn, or pretty much any other sound on Earth, a new app released today called Sequence will let you sample it, layer it, and turn it into your very own musical composition.
Sequence has been developed by the folks at Incident who invented the gTar, a guitar that lets you snap in your iPhone and follow along the lighted frets to play songs.
Sequence keeps with Incident's "anyone can make music" philosophy by loading your iPhone or iPad with 18 different instruments -- from multiple drum kits, to orchestral instruments like the violin and trumpet, to samples from a Minimoog analog synthesizer and more. But it goes one step further than other similar music-making apps by giving you the ability to sample the sounds you hear around you and drop them into a musical composition of your own making.
Putting together a song is as simple as choosing an instrument or a sampled sound and touching various cubes to have the sound play at regular intervals. Layer different sounds on top of each other and just like that -- you're making music. The app automatically adjusts the key so that everything you put together creates harmony instead of cacophony. You can also speed up or slow down the tempo and control the volume of different tracks to get the mix just right.
At the moment, the app is only being developed for iOS devices. As an Android user (and frustrated music maker), I was pretty disappointed about that, so I asked Incident team member Josh Stansfield what gives. Here's what he had to say:
"We, along with Moog, Arturia, and almost every other major mobile-music-app developer out there have been building for iOS exclusively because of a few longstanding issues with Android that have made it less desirable as a music platform -- two things specifically: until recently, MIDI host mode support has been really spotty on most Android devices, especially if you wanted to hook up a USB device like the gTar or a MIDI keyboard. The bigger issue is that Android audio latency is markedly higher than iOS, making 'real-time' music apps much less responsive on Android. Of course, these are things that are being fixed and evolving quite fast, but iOS has become the dominant mobile platform for music-creation apps so we've chosen to go there first."
Rats! I guess I'll have to stick with air guitar and drumming on my steering wheel for now. The rest of you iPhone and iPad owners however, can start turning the crunch of your breakfast toast or the beeps of your next ATM transactions into sweet music by downloading the free app on the iTunes store.