Growing up, I had no musical training at all. No piano lessons, only public school music classes. I tried drums in 4th grade, but got bored with only playing quarter notes on a snare drum with that big rubber damper on it. I first started playing guitar at age 16. A jazz bassist friend had a guitar at his house, and he taught me how to play a G chord, so I'd stop playing my patented "Em11" chord (all open strings, baby!).
Long story short, I am self-taught. Through many, many guitar tablatures magazines I learned how to play certain songs, but I never really learned theory. Song composition. Sequencing. In hindsight, I would have liked to have had some piano lessons as a kid. I have two young daughters, ages 7 and 5, who are both taking piano lessons, and quite frankly can sightread faster than me.
So when I started playing with Disco Fingers by Propell AB, my first thought was how great this app would be for someone with no musical training or no musical instruments, but someone who has the music in their head. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think most people walk around during their day with a song stuck in their brain. Maybe it's "Let It Go" (if you have two young daughters ages 7 and 5!), or maybe it's your own song that you've just made up. A lot of people have no way of translating that to sound.
As you can see from the launch video above, this app could not be simpler. The interface keeps everything right on one screen, so there are no confusing sliders or dials. The grid is instantly intuitive after going through the intro tutorial. It is a basic sequencer, with time on the X axis and notes (or instruments for percussion) on the Y axis. You can use up to 10 different instruments per track. The grid allows for up to 32 individual steps, and is a simple loop, so you won't get much more than a basic theme going here.
The choices of instrumentation are actually really good! You can choose from a few percussion options, as well as a couple of bass sounds (either electric bass or electronic/synth basses), some banjo, horns, flute, piano and more. A really nice feature here is the vocal options. You can record your own voice, and synthesize your voice using a "Daft Hunk" vocoder, a robotizer, autotune, or pitch it up high or low. Obviously the developers were having fun with this, as some of the "fingers" are named Heisenbass (with an obvious Walter White appearance), Disco Bieber, Sweetie Wonder, and so on.
Heisenbass. Sweetie Wonder. Daft Hunk.
The app is free to download, and is quite usable in the free version. However, the IAP of $4.99 USD opens up the full selection of instruments and vocal effects, as well the option to export your tune to ringtone. I bought the IAP within minutes without hesitation.
As this app doesn't pretend to be a full-fledged "pro" app, it doesn't include most of the main features we all would be looking for. No Audiobus, no IAA, no ACP. The only way to share your tune is through either SMS, email, social media or through the Disco Fingers FM "radio", where users can share their tracks for all to hear.
This app is simply fun to play with. It's not going to replace Thor or Mitosynth. And it's not trying to do that. This app is designed to allow anyone to make music. And I truly believe that anyone can make music with this app. My daughters absolutely love it. These Minecraft addicts actually wanted to play with Disco Fingers instead of Minecraft the last time I gave them "iPad time". For these girls, that's actually a big deal.
The developers of this app have put a ton of work into it. If you are interested (and I recommend it), check out their site for a very honest and refreshing daily diary about the whole app making process. Not only does it mark the progress of the development, but it gives some insight into how some of the crucial decisions were made, and some overall good advice about chasing your dream. These guys have put a lot of work into this app, and it's great to see such a quality product come of that effort. It's hard not to root for these guys.
Like I said before, it's a free app, so by all means go download the app (there's a handy link down below). Check it out. If you've got someone you know that maybe isn't very musical, have them check it out too. While this isn't strictly marketed towards kids, it is ideal for them. It's fun, it's musical, and it's a solid app. Take it for a spin, consider the IAP, and have fun!.
If you're thinking about picking up Disco Fingers, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks![app 809680953]