First, a story, by way of explanation: A few years ago at a Boredoms show, I watched, rapt, as singer and multi-instrumentalist Yamantaka Eye wielded two glowing orbs.
I still don't know exactly how it happened, but as he moved those two spheres around in his hands, noises emerged that seemed controlled by the positions of the balls.
The sound changed as he moved them closer, then further away. When Eye (his name) gradually transitioned from calm swaying into erratic dance, the music changed again --what was once quiet and reminiscent of the ocean became raw and bracing. To this day, it ranks as one of the most awe-inspiring musical moments I've ever witnessed.
Now back to NodeBeat ($2), for iPhone and iPad, which doesn't pack the same visceral punch as watching the Boredoms flail around onstage -- nor would I want it to, now that I think about it. But it does remind me of that experience, because the app operates on a similar principle: Objects -- or nodes -- float around in space and their proximity to each another dictates the sound.
(Check out more ways to make music without really trying.)
It's an interesting concept, and well executed here. Nodebeat has a pretty interface (reminiscent of the very cool, very expensive Reactable, made famous by Björk, who has her own impressive apps) and it's easy to get started making music with it.
Notes only make sound when in close proximity to a generator, and the type of sound emitted from a note depends on which type of generator it's close to.
Sound too complicated? It's not. Once you drag a few nodes onto the screen and watch and listen as they interact, it's way easier than it sounds.
(Pro tip: To help get the hang of this faster, go to node settings and make sure note movement, generator movement, and gravity are all switched on.)
No matter what you do in NodeBeat's somewhat-controlled environment, the music almost always sounds good. If you're an experienced electronic musician, though, you may crave slightly more user control over the sound. That said, experienced musicians who spend enough time with NodeBeat will find parameters that allow them to sculpt the music to their liking. For example, you can turn the tempo up and use lots of percussion generators for Aphex Twin-like rushes of drums, or slow down the beat and turn attack and release all the way up for more chilled-out, ambient soundscapes. NodeBeat offers a refreshing take on music-making for the iPhone and iPad sure to be appreciated by casual users and hardcore synth-heads alike. Either way, it's cool, and at $2, a whole lot cheaper than Boredoms tickets.
NodeBeat is in the TOP 10 in Music in 10 countries and TOP 20 in 20 countries
"Addictive - Like a Deep House or Techno version of Brian Eno's Bloom and Trope apps. Uptempo ambient for headphones at work. Kids love it, too. One of the best generative music apps I've found." - Top Review
Created by Seth Sandler and Justin Windle, NodeBeat is an experimental node-based audio sequencer and generative music application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (NodeBeat HD for iPad).
By combining music and playful exploration, NodeBeat allows anyone to create an exciting variety of rhythmic sequences and ambient melodies in a fun and intuitive fashion. From the professional to the novice, NodeBeat lets anyone explore creative music.
★ Features Include ★
-Adjustable Node Physics
-Drag & drop to add and remove nodes
-Pitch Shift Audio
-Adjustable Tempo (BPM) & Note Beat
-Creative Sound Sculpting: Echo, Attack, Decay, Release
-Audio Waveform Adjustment (Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, Square)
-Drum and Octave (pitched) Generators
-Landscape and Portrait Views
-Record and email audio file with compression
-Create Ringtones from recording
-Share Recording on SoundCloud
-AudioCopy to Another Application
-Background Audio support.
-Start/Stop Octave Generators by double tapping
-Sleep Timer for falling asleep to NodeBeat
-Shake to Clear Screen
-5 Finger Reset All
★ To stop NodeBeat from continuing to play when closed, in the "Settings" menu, turn "Background Audio" to "Off". ★
★ Reviews ★
"This is a great app. Experienced musicians and laypeople alike can enjoy their music within seconds." - AppAdvice.com
"Another bold step forward in iPad musical devices, which turns networks of nodes into bumping beats." - Belinda Lanks - Fast Company's Co.Design
"Relaxing and Fun. If you’re the sort who enjoys playing with meditative toys like tabletop Zen sand gardens, you’ll probably enjoy this relaxing and visually appealing sound app." - Gianna LaPin - 148apps.com
"More than anything, it’ll be a calming oasis in the chaos that is a typical day in a modern city. If it all gets too much, as it inevitably does, just plug in your earphones and sculpt some sounds by moving around the nodes on the screen, simply making music and letting the ambient chimes wash over you. Until your boss tells you to stop messing around and get back to work, that is." - Kevin Holmes - thecreatorsproject.com
"If you like generative, reactive or ambient music- Nodebeat HD is a vital addition to your app collection. It is easily on par with the likes of Bloom,Slewpi,Aura flux, Curtis, Reactable and the rest and is super user-friendly...You can get lost in this ambient world for hours if you are just into playing at home, but if you are part of the new wave of live performers that are using iOS devices for live performances then you too should grab this app! You will astound your audience with mesmerizing spaced out grooves like never before!" - Zac Laurent - www.evolutionarymusic.org