Melodica, by CandyCane
$0.99 (listed as on sale), Four stars
Easy to use
Makes nice tunes
Can save and adjust speed of replay
No variable tones and instruments
Limited to one length of music
Melodica is a tune making application that uses a simple touch screen interface to make (sometimes) pleasant repetitive tonal music. It doesn't rely on instruments or anything, it just have varying tones, and when you make a tune, it simply repeats it over and over.
The interface for Melodica is easy to grasp. You are presented with a 10x16 grids (holding the iPhone sideways). The vertical column is for pitch - higher up is a higher pitch tone, lower is a lower pitch tone. The horizontal axis is time - the music will be "read" from left to right, and repeated when the end is reached.
To add a note or tone, simply tap on one of the empty squares, and it will light up. That sqaure is now active, and when "read" will produce a specific tone. Multiple tones can be added for the same measure, or you can slide you finger horizontally to add the same tone over a long period of time. To remove a note, simply tap on the square (or shake the iPhode to clear the screen).
You can approach this with a very clear idea in mind, adding and taking tones in a deliberate fashion, or you can simply "scribble" on the iPhone and see what it produces. Either way works well, and you can get some nice (albeit repeptitive) tones very easilly.
Unfortunately, there is no way to extend the screen beyond the 16 columns. That means you are limited in the complexity that you make your music. You can vary the speed of playback (in the settings menu) but that it the limit of changing the music. You also can't choose different octives or tonal types - each one sounds like a generic synthesizer note - it would be really fun to have different midi-type instruments that you could use (especially if you can mix and match).
One new feature (apparently) is the ability to save your creations that you like. By pulling up the menu, you can save a creation (but you can't name it or anything). You can also load previously saved creations by looking through a cover-flow type interface of the various tonal creations you have saved. Once loaded, you can modify them again to your hearts content.
This app can produce surprisingly nice musical effects. Since it is a 16 columns long, it works very easilly with the intuitive 4/4 system, which I think is the easiest to learn and use. Even though the same melody is repeated over and over, they can still be nice to listen to (as evidenced by the fact that my wife didn't ask me to mute the phone after 10 minutes of testing this app). Unfortunately, there is no ability to save or email the file to someone else.
All in all, this is a fun app that can produce surprising results. There aren't a lot of options available to customize or modify the music itself, but you can still produce some fun results. No ability to save or email the sound to someone is disappointing, but not surprising. At $.99, the app is not highly priced and can be fun to try. Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.