Music making fun for your iPad, complete with instrument playing animals. It can only be Glitchamaphone
A small corner of the internet was devastated last year when the massive multiplayer online game Glitch was shut down. Glitch was unique in that it offered an immersive world full of quests and adventures, but steered away from player-on-player combat, rather emphasising collaboration and harmony. Players were encouraged to work together cooking, growing plants and trees, and building new streets and unlocking new areas of the world map. However, like the reality of so many utopian visions, Glitch was fraught with problems. Only two months after the game launched, on 30 November 2011, Glitch ‘unlaunched’, reverting to beta status as the developers, Tiny Speck Inc, cited issues of accessibility for new players, and depth of game play for experienced players. Just over a year later, the game announced it was closing down due to not being able to find a wide enough audience.
However, as one server closes, another one comes online. Music creation app Glitchamaphone was created by audio designers Gl33k initially as an in-game activity for Glitch, but with the close of the MMO, has been produced as a spin-off solely for iPad. The graphics reflect the twee aesthetic of Glitch, with an interface built around five musical animals on a stage to control to loop tracks.
After choosing from one of three background tracks, select an animal and a bar will appear above their heads. This is tap mode: tap out a beat on the panels on the bar and the music-playing avatar will then repeat this on a loop. If you want to experiment with what sounds you can create, select Practice from the bottom right of the tap bar and you can jam all you like, but the avatar won’t loop it until you switch Practice off again.
Many music creation apps – especially ones with such a child-friendly and cute interface – would end here. However, Glitchamaphone allows you to go deeper into the music and be more precise in the sounds you create using the grid mode. Select this option and a grid of squares will fill the screen. Tap these on and off to perfect the placement of your music in more detail, even using pinch-zoom gestures to adjust the volume of each square.
Head back to tap mode and you can layer new beats on top of this, or select from one of the four other avatars to add melody. Tapping the plus or minus sign hanging from the top of the stage allows you to add a new measure to your music. Dragging the pedestals the avatars stand on up or down will increase or decrease the volume of their instrument. Holding your finger over an avatar will allow you to delete them from the track or change what instrument they are playing, such as swapping a banjo for an electric guitar.
While musical novices will require more time than others to wrap their hands around this innovative music-making system, through trial and error you can create your own unique, multi-layered sound.
However, this is where Glitchamaphone falls down. Whereas the app was originally planned to integrate with Glitch, users were supposed to be able to upload their creations to the game for others to share and remix. However, now the game is gone, Glitchamaphone exists in a vacuum and there is no way to export your creations – not even just the option to share videos to social media to show off. Without this, a question hangs over the app as to what it is really for, but it offers worthwhile distraction, with creativity wrapped in a cute interface.
This app offers a digital memento for Glitch fans, and innovative music looping entertainment for new users.
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