Developer: Scott Snibbe Studio, Inc.
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPod Touch 4g
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Scott Snibbe Studio’s new music-generation app has an interface that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and is a little difficult to explain: there are two spinning cylinders, each representing a different melody (on the iPad there are three). Touch one of the cylinders and draw a waveform up or down, which affects the sound being generated. There are four percussion beats that can be activated, and four holding locations to store different waveforms on the upper right. Tempo can be chosen via a slider.

Using this app can be a bit of an exercise in frustration. OscilloScoop does provide a full-screen infographic pointing out various landmarks but actual instruction is scare and somewhat cryptic. I found myself wishing that there were some decent instructions, or maybe a video of an expert using it, to show me the app’s potential and give me a sense of what I was shooting for. The interface is fascinating for a UI junkie like myself — I could totally see a professional DJ using an application like this, mixing and spinning different loops to generate an endlessly shifting stream of music. According to the description in the iTunes App Store, the app designer worked with leading musicians and music technologists including Laurie Anderson and Max Mathews, but as a music-synthesizing novice I was having too much difficulty to enjoy myself.

Like many other music apps I’ve reviewed, this app does not allow you to save the music you generate, which is frustrating. There is also no “undo” feature. After working with it for half an hour I generated some music which I though was halfway decent, but I blew the melody with a wayward swipe of my finger.

The app comes preloaded with several percussion tracks, and users have the option to purchase more in-app, but I didn’t think the preinstalled loops were sufficiently different from each other to be very distinguishable.

OscilloScoop has just as much going for it as it’s got going against it; the interface is fairly simple and intuitive, but it doesn’t provide nearly enough features to be of much use to anyone. Maybe enough people will buy add-on beats through the in-app purchase option to fund a future enhancement or two in the future.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Music, iPhone Apps and Games, Music, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,