iOS MARS is currently closed. Please read this for more information.

WorldScales review – An instrument that breaks free of equal tempered scales

In the world of iOS music apps, there are many keyboard-based apps to choose from. Many of these piano emulations and synths offer a wide range of scales. But, even with all of these choices, almost all of these are locked into the "Western tuning", with no flexibility for including micro-tonality.

WorldScales from Kelfar Technologies allows you to manually tune each key (+-100 cents) in order to achieve the true sounds of these exotic scales. And thankfully, WorldScales was recently updated to integrate Audiobus compatibility.

photo (4)

But, before I get into discussing WorldScales, I think a brief overview of tuning is in order. The most common tuning today in Western music is the equal temperament tuning system. This divides an octave into 12 notes that are separated by equally divided distances. In this tuning, notes are tuned to a "standard" pitch, usually A440Hz, and the distance between notes is referred to as a "half-step". When you play a chromatic run on a piano, those notes are tuned according to equal temperament.

However, not all musical styles use an equal temperament tuning. Many Indian, Arabic, and Asian musical scales do not use equally divided intervals between steps. With WorldScales, you have the ability to fine-tune each note to break out of the equal interval system of most standard iOS music apps.

WorldScales comes with 32 preset instruments, ranging from Western instruments like Grand Piano, violin, trumpet, to more exotic instruments like an oud, kanun, and mezwed, just to name a few. As a bonus, there are four sets of Arabic Percussion sets that quite frankly sound really sweet. These sounds are fantastic, and will rival those found on any other iOS app.

Below I have created a demo using the same riff, but using a few of the preset sounds provided in WorldScales. These are all recorded straight into Cubasis, with DrumJam providing some background percussion.

WorldScales also includes over 80 non-equal temperament scales (as well as the standard Western tuned scales as well). By choosing these scales, you will instantly see the display change to indicate the cent offset for each note (and the non-western symbols for these notes as well!). You can also create and save your own custom scales.

As mentioned earlier, WorldScales recently updated to include Audiobus compatibility. This worked flawlessly for me, and will open up great possibilities for not only recording into your favorite DAW, but running these sounds through your favorite reverb or delay effects apps as well.

WorldScales is also Core MIDI-enabled, so you can plug in your external MIDI keyboard if you prefer. The developer is currently working on implementing Soundfont import into WorldScales, which would greatly increase the sounds available to use. This will be a very exciting update.

Oddly enough, although the app says that "virtual MIDI ports are currently not supported but are planned for the next version", I was able to get WorldScales to receive input from both midiSequencer and Little Midi Machine with no problems.

One addition that I think would be nice would be an option for a "scales" keyboard (similar to those found in many iOS apps, like Animoog, Sunrizer, and iSem, to name just a few). This would greatly reduce the number of "wrong" notes, and make playability a breeze.

I had never heard of this app until just recently. But I know several iOS musicians who work heavily in microtonality, and they have been frustrated to date with the lack of options available. WorldScales is definitely worth a look if you have a need for non-Western scales, or are just looking for some great sounding sampled instruments.

If you're thinking about buying WorldScales, please consider clicking through our App Store link below.

WorldScales (AppStore Link) WorldScales
Developer: Karim El-Far
Rated: 4+5
Price: $6.99 Download

Post Navigation