Never in the history of humanity have the musically inclined had such a wealth of opportunity to compose. A wide variety of apps has arisen that allow users to skip the music lessons and turn their smartphones and other mobile devices into instant bands. One of the most recent offerings is Figure, by Propellerhead.
Figure gives users the opportunity to mix drums, bass synthesizer and lead synthesizer into unique compositions. It’s not the first or only app to do so, but it is one of the easiest and most intuitive to use. All the instruments and their controls are represented in simple, strategically placed graphics on an eye-catching interface that really dresses up the screen of your iPhone or iPad.
In Figure, developers have accomplished the seemingly impossible. They have created an interface that allows novice musicians to create their own music without tutorials or training while still offering enough meat to satisfy the more knowledgeable users in the crowd. Experienced musicians and those who begin as novices but stick around long enough to begin looking for more can adjust pitch and distortion or change key, among other things.
Already, users are reporting that Figure is addictive in a good way. Its appeal seems to be based on more than mere novelty; the ability to tap into your own creative soul and pull out something that anyone can hear and enjoy seems to strike a chord in even the most practical mind. The only fly in the ointment is the inability to create longer recordings, a distinct drawback for those who want to revel a little longer in their newfound creative freedom.
According to developer Ernst Nathorst Boos, CEO of Propellerhead, the whole idea behind the app was to satisfy both professional musicians and those who just want to make a catchy little tune. In fact, Boos sees a huge market for the app among musicians, who he believes will turn to their smartphones and tablets to produce legitimate work.
Boos doesn’t think apps will replace traditional means of composing music, but he believes that they have a place in the hands of musicians. “We think musicians, regardless what level they’re on, will have phones, tablets and computers, and they will use them in different situations,” he said. You have to wonder how many more symphonies the world would have today if Beethoven had been given access to an iPhone with Figure on it.
Propellerhead seems to believe that the app has broad enough appeal that it will go mainstream. The current price of roughly $1.12 seems to reflect a business philosophy that is counting on high volume sales. Perhaps Propellerhead doesn’t have to worry about earning back what it spent to develop the app, though, since Figure was largely created using know-how gleaned from the development of the company’s more complex previous offering, Rebirth.
If you already own an iOS device, you’ve got less than a buck-fifty to lose by trying Figure out for yourself. Who knows what latent talent it may bring out in you? Don’t be surprised if you start seeing some changes in popular music as a result of this little app.