Developer: Amidio Inc
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There’s just something about playing with various buttons and sliders in order to produce rhythms that appeals to almost everyone. Amateurs such as myself have programs with exceedingly simple interfaces (and very few options) to futz with, and professionals have soundboards and synthesizers and such, but what about people who want to move from push-button tunes to legitimate song construction?

Songineer is the very thing those people need: a kind of “missing link” in compositional evolution. It’s interface encourages play and exploration, but allows for much more involved projects. It’s audio output options are vast, but aren’t necessary to delve into until after users are more familiar with the app. Tracks can be arranged, layered, copied and pasted. Tempo and pitch can be adjusted, then readjusted as needed. It’s not going to replace a recording studio or that super-expensive audio software, but it helps to ease users from the simple to the mind-bogglingly complex.

As I’ve mentioned, there’s quite a bit of depth to Songineer‘s toolset if one is willing to dive into it. At least, lots of depth when compared to those toy-like music generators. Sure, a good deal of it involves jumping into a menu or two and tweaking settings, but a lot can also be done on-the-fly, so to speak. The entire track can be selected with a couple of taps and the pitch or tempo can be changed with one or two more. Individual notes can be fiddled with in a similar fashion. It’s all surprisingly intuitive, despite seeming a bit overwhelming at first.

Which is the one major pitfall of Songineer: it’s initial complexity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nowhere near as scary as the “professional” stuff, but it is a big step up from randomly tapping on squares in a grid to make something that resembles music. There are a lot of menus and options to play around with, and most of them can have a major impact on a work in progress. There’s a built-in help document of sorts that explains a lot of it, as well as some online video tutorials, but dabblers like me will no doubt be inclined to simply jump in and see what does what. And that won’t necessarily yield positive results.

Songineer might be too much to handle for those content to treat musical compositions as a form of play. It also might seem a bit too simple for experienced song-smiths looking to craft their tunes on the go. However, I think it’s ideal for the in-betweenies. Anyone who’s been looking to take their musical inclinations beyond mere “play,” but hesitant to dive straight into the deep end, just might find this to be the progressive segue they need.


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