More Music Making with the iPhone

October 20, 2009

by Francis Preve


Here are two more great iPhone apps that will help you make music on the go.

Developer: Omenie
Price: $2.99
Of all the classic synths that could be converted to iPhone format, we’re psyched that Omenie chose the Mellotron.

Mellotron information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellotron

Ellatron’s patch bank includes the holy trinity of Mellotron sounds - choir, flute and strings – along with 24 other classic and original presets that are totally usable in a gigging context. So much so that prog-god Jordan Rudess has actually used Ellatron at his live shows!

The dual-manual interface allows for two different sounds to be assigned to each keyboard, which is pretty nifty in itself. But the nanoscale keys don’t really lend themselves to chordal passages. Not to worry, Ellatron includes a feature that allows the upper manual to be converted to eight finger-sized pads, each of which can be custom configured to play the chord of your choice. Very, very cool stuff.

Additional amenities include knobs for volume, pitch and tone, as well as the ability to dial-in varying amounts of craptastic wow and flutter for added authenticity.

The only real caveat (if you can call it that) is that with 27 multisampled instruments at your fingertips, Ellatron takes a loooong time to load. But that’s a small price to pay for having a three hundred pound legend in your pocket.

The price? Three bucks.

iTunes Link


Pictured: With chord mode active, the lower keyboard plays one sound while the upper pads can be configured to play user-specified chords with a second patch.

Developer: Normalware
Price: $1.99

Website: normalware.com

iTunes Link

Rounding out this season’s collection of synth trinkets is a neat little doo-dad called Bebot.

Bebot’s decidedly toy-like interface features an adorable singing robot, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s strictly for kids. Far from it, Bebot is a killer lead synth that includes switchable sawtooth, variable pulse, pulse width modulation and sine wave tone generators followed by simultaneous overdrive, chorus and echo.

Playing Bebot is a bit like riffing on Korg’s Kaossilator, with the x-axis controlling pitch and the y-axis controlling cutoff frequency and/or volume. Pitch can be quantized to any key with varying amounts of glide as you transition between notes. There’s even a preset that integrates a loop recorder so your riffs continually cycle in overdub mode as you play.

Thanks to the iPhone’s size and Bebot’s scaling functions, this app is perfectly designed for live performance and we wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear it on a prog rock or electro track in the coming months.

What’s more, Bebot’s kid-friendly interface makes it double as a terrific little pacifier for ages three and up.


Pictured: Bebot’s patch editor in waveform selection mode.

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