We’re all for apps that let beginners and seasoned geeks alike make music in a fun, easy, engaging way, but with the potential for sonically interesting results. We like to call them apps for making music without really trying.
eDrops (free-$2, for iPhone and iPad), the latest entry in this field, takes its musical inspiration from the pinball machine, much like Soundrop (not to be confused with the Spotify app of the same name) and MusicBox before it. Balls careen around wildly, triggering sounds as they ricochet off bumpers along the way.
The experience is a little confusing at first, with not much in the way of a manual or documentation, but we got the hang of it after a few tries. Users create complex chain reactions of sound by placing two types of objects in the path of a ball. Instruments act like the aforementioned pinball bumpers, deflecting balls and triggering sounds, while modifiers change the behavior of the balls in various ways.
This app is a lot of fun, and surprisingly intuitive, but a slight glut of features gives it a steepish learning curve.
Here are some tips, so you can get straight to making music: First, we found it simpler to focus on instruments rather than modifiers, which are cool for inserting a bit of chaos into the system but ultimately serve to complicate things. Second, we recommend using the mute buttons on either side of the screen to turn of the unnecessary and confusing ambient sounds that constantly play in the background.
eDrops could benefit from a little slimming-down, but even in its current state, it’s a worthy addition to your app stable if you want to take short breaks to zone out and do a little off-the-cuff jamming, a la Pulsate and NodeBeat. Unfortunately, developer Noe Guerrero’s “more is more” philosophy extends to releasing lots of versions of this product, with no fewer than four iterations of the app in iTunes including Free eDrops, which costs $1. First, we recommend checking out eDrops Nature, which actually is free. If you like it, spring for eDrops Pro, which adds more sounds and customizability.