By Francis Prève
One of the coolest things about iPad instruments is that you can move beyond the 12-note keyboard and into alternative approaches. What’s more, being able to configure the screen to specific keys and modes makes bum notes a thing of the past.
Jordan Rudess’ MorphWiz is a perfect example of what happens when a world-class keyboardist has free reign to develop a serious synth for the masses. Its synth engine focuses on intelligent and intuitive ways to morph the sound as you play. Sliding your fingers horizontally controls pitch, and yes, the synth is polyphonic.
You have control over two waveforms for the vertical axis, so sliding your finger up or down morphs the sound in a very musical manner. If harder sounds are your thing, FM mode maps FM intensity to the vertical axis, and includes selectable ratios. Some ratios add subtle harmonic complexity while more extreme settings deliver wonderfully harsh results. The wave sync mode morphs the sound via hard oscillator sync, in a way that’s great for old Prophet-like sounds in the lower registers. You can also morph sounds by titling the iPad, and other tools include unison detuning, attack-release envelopes, tremolo, and some delay and chorus for that arena lead sound.
Various key, scale, and mode options are stored per sound preset. Once you’ve chosen a key, your scale options include major, harmonic minor, natural minor, all the expected modes, pentatonic, blues, Jordan’s “Wizard” scale, and others. You can create and save your own scales.
The sheer scope of sounds is ably demonstrated by the 80 or so Rudess-designed presets. Silky pads and blazing leads abound in this collection, and with all this playability, I promise you’ll find inspiring timbres for your tracks, whether you’re into progressive rock, progressive house, or anything in between.
The built-in recorder is perfect for either doodling or nailing a take. Just hit the record button on the main screen as you play and MorphWiz records audio from your performance. From there you can overdub more audio (destructively, so be careful), save it, email it to yourself (perfect for importing into a DAW), or—get this—use your copy and paste functions to send it to any compatible audio app on your iPad. This makes integrating MorphWiz into a studio workflow pretty painless, though we’d like to see CoreMIDI support so you could play it from a conventional keyboard or sequence it from a DAW. With so many other features, though, it’s very cool as-is.
We’re blown away by what MorphWiz delivers for ten bucks. It’s no wonder that this app has won so many awards. The latest? Our Key Buy, of course.
Incredibly expressive. Preset key, scale and mode makes playing a wrong note virtually impossible. Integrated audio recording with many export options.
Doesn’t talk MIDI with the outside world.
Apple iPad and iPad 2.
$9.99 at Apple App Store