MÃºsica MÃ³vel is a group of Brazilian developers and musicians that are creating cool and original mobile apps for music production. The applications take images captured live from the camera, graphical fractal tree structures, or gestures, to generate sounds, melodies and beats, turning your smartphone into a musical instrument.
Looper, for example, allows you to record short sound clips and use them as samples as a kind of beatbox. Add effects and control volume and tempo, and play it all back as a beat track or record it and use it as a part of another track later on.
Arvoritmo allows you build a graphical tree of sequences. It is a little hard to explain, so it’s best if you watch the video below. The trees can be as complex as you like (or, I guess, as complex as your device will let you have them, until it crashes when it runs out of memory) and you can control the sequences by directing what branches must be played.
Horizontes uses input from your camera to generate music. Start the app, point you device at the view from your window, a person, or an interesting painting, and the program will generate a tune. As you move the camera around, the app will play variations on the original melody.
Photosintese is similar to Horizontes, but it uses the colour the camera sees as a source to play instruments. You can adjust the level of the Red, Green and Blue channels the camera picks up, and the instruments and the tempo.
BeatSlicer allows the user to control one or several audio archives and play short pieces of them as samples to create other tracks. You can split the audio into several sections (slices) and change the order, tempo, and speed.
… And so on.
Although some of the apps are a bit crude and your smartphone, despite all its features, is a going to be a bit lacklustre as an instrument, theses apps are very interesting for at least three reasons. The first is that they take a novel view of what an instrument is in this day and age, using input beyond keys or strings, and often doing away with the linear paradigm of sheet music.
Secondly, much like a sketch artist will doodle on a piece of people to get the creative juices flowing, or a musician will jam randomly for the same reason, these apps can be used to jump start your inspiration and generate thought-provoking pieces from anywhere, and that can be used later for more elaborate tracks.
Finally all these apps are open sourced and distributed under a free license (GPL). This means that, however imperfect they may be, the code can be used to create much more sophisticated programs, or even be used in games or educational software.
You can download all these apps from the Google Play store (you can use the QR Codes above with your mobile device to get them directly onto your phone), or check out the code from GitHub.
Cover image by d3designs on Morguefile.
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