Here are some interesting apps that demonstrate different ways to synthesis sound – by tapping and drawing on the screen, and by moving the phone. For each app we suggest three simple exercises to help students explore their particular method of sound-synthesis.
“Instead of a keyboard, it has an easy-to-use touch control system. And it’s all built into a friendly animated robot, who performs your music while you play.”
By touching the screen the user activates musical notes performed by an animated robot. The user drags their finger left and right to control pitch. Dragging up and down affects the volume and/or timbre of the sound – reflected in the shape of the onscreen robot’s mouth (“ooo-aaa-eee”)
By changing the app’s settings the user can either make smooth glissando pitch-sweeps, or distinct notes stepped chromatics or arpeggios.
- Exercise 1: Play a popular tune using Bebot
- Exercise 2: Compose a new tune you wouldn’t be able to sing using Bebot
- Exercise 3: Use more than one finger to make choir of Bebot voices sing a tune.
Simiar: Sammy Synth for Android
“Users can draw aspects of a sound in a drawn composition on top of film reels, including the envelope, pitch, reverb, vibrato, as well control the shape of the sound by drawing a waveshape on top of a glass plate.”
The Oramics app is based on the Oramics Machine invented by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram in 1957. The machine would interpret visual lines drawn on strips of 35mm film by a composer. Multiple strips would be used to define an individual sound, with each strip notating a specific aspect of the sound, such as pitch, waveshape and volume.
It’s much easier to use on iPad because of the larger screen space for the film strips.
- Exercise 1: Draw a straight line along the middle of the Envelope film to make a steady medium volume. Draw similar lines along the Reverb and Vibrato films so that their values are constant. Then draw on the Pitch film to create a popular tune lasting around 30 seconds.
- Exercise 2: With your new melody drawn on the Pitch film, experiment with the Envelope, Reverb and Vibrato to enhance your tune.
- Exercise 3: Compose your own melody using all four films.
“GyroSynth is a gesture driven music synthesizer, which takes full adventage of the gyroscope. You can play and modulate the sound by moving your hand through the air”
GyroSynth uses of the gyroscope to measure physical movement of the handset and translates the data to sound parameters like pitch, volume, modulation or filter cutoff.
- Exercise 1: Play a popular tune with Gyrosynth
- Exercise 2: Compose a new tune you wouldn’t be able to sing with Gyrosynth
- Exercise 3: Change the settings of Gyrosynth so that different movements control pitch and volume. Repeat Exercise 1 and 2 with these settings.