Melodica [App Store Link] is kind of an odd iPhone app to review. It’s a music app, yes. However, it doesn’t really let you do much. It’s basically an iPhone version of Tone Matrix. You touch the squares on the screen and when the line on the screen passes over a box that you’ve lit up, it makes a pleasant noise and keeps looping over the light grid. Of course, you can light up as many or as few boxes as you desire. You can save your creations for later retrieval as well, a nice touch. The only other real option is to either speed up or slow down the tempo at which the line on the screen passes over the boxes.
That’s Melodica in a nutshell, and on paper it doesn’t seem that impressive or entertaining. However, it truly is a neat little app that I constantly find myself coming back to for a few minutes at a time because of its delightful simplicity (I’ll get to that later–its simplicity is both its strength and its biggest fault).
I’m not a musician. I play no instruments beyond the occasional air guitar or air drums. But I really do enjoy Melodica. It lets people who have no musical skill make some pretty neat little pieces of music that are almost always pleasant to the ear, and are almost always unique. The boxes flashing as the invisible “line” (re-read the “I’m not a musician” part again!) passes over them are neat to watch also.
Where the app falls down though (so far anyway, its last update was on July 4th 2009), is in the lack of any real updates from its developer. What this app could really benefit from are some social features–the ability to perhaps upload your melodies for others to listen to, and perhaps even to vote on. This isn’t required of course, it just would add even more to the App to make it that much more enjoyable.
Another big addition that would make Melodica more compelling would be the ability to (as an option) have a longer grid to compose even longer loops. Perhaps have the ability to change the pitch or tone–maybe by tapping more than once on a box to do so–anything to add even more creative options when composing a song. The bottom line is that there are tons of ways the developer can truly make this App a must-have.
In any event, Melodica is a fun little music App. Is it worth $0.99? For me it is. If it’s the only App you have on your phone, you’ll get bored quickly. It’s the type of App you play around with for a few minutes at a time every now and then, and for that it’s great. Hopefully updates with new features to expand on its abilities will be coming soon. Want to see if you’ll like it? Just try out Tone Matrix on your computer as Melodica is the same basic thing, except you can carry it around with you in your pocket.
Panappticon Verdict: 76/100 — A fun, simple little music app that could really benefit from some new features and updates by its developer.
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