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Oriental Strings for your iPad – A new release from Crudebyte

Oriental Strings was just released for the iPad yesterday by Crudebyte, the developers behind the popular CMP Piano and iSymphonic Orchestra apps. As the name would imply, this app is an orchestral app with with some Arabian flavor.

imageMuch like the recent iSymphonic Orchestra app, Oriental Strings contains high-quality samples of instruments arranged in roughly 10 different groups. While there is an individual Chinese Erhu to use, most of the others are ensembles or quartets. These include such choices as Turkish Strings, Arabic Strings, Tremolo Strings and Oriental Quartets, just to name a few. There are 32 presets over all, with variations on themes and playing styles.

The interface is fairly simple, with a virtual keyboard along the bottom, and most of your menu options along the top. The main controls are the presets and reverb options, which appear in drop-down boxes labeled 'Sound' and 'Effect' respectively. I did discover that you can swipe across the main background image to move to the next or previous preset, rather than use the drop-down box.

While there is a virtual keyboard, Crudebyte does appear to be leading you to use an external keyboard with Oriental Strings. You can resize the keyboard by dragging and holding the arrow above the keyboard, and then with another finger pinching the top row of the keyboard. The default keyboard is tiny, so if you're looking to use the virtual keyboard, there's a free helpful tip for you. I had no issue with Oriental Strings recognizing my M-Audio Oxygen 25 external keyboard.

Within the app is also a velocity response curve editor, so you can adjust the velocity of your external keyboard when played. These changes to the velocity response can also be saved, which is a nice and well-thought out touch.

imageSince we are talking about non-Western music, the issue of scales is certain to come up. I've previously reviewed WorldScales, which allowed you to use non-equal temperament scales. The same can be achieved here in Oriental Strings. Tapping on the icon that looks like a bar graph will bring up the Scale Editor overlay. In this screen you can individually tune each note to +-64 cents. As with the velocity editor, these can also be saved as presets.


Another neat feature of Oriental Strings is the integration of a MIDI player and recorder. You can directly import MIDI files into Oriental Strings straight from Safari. Once you've found the MIDI file you'd like to use in Safari, you can download it from the webpage. When I tested this, I got the "Open In..." option in Safari, I chose Oriental Strings, and it immediately loaded into the app. Very smooth, very easy. If you've created a MIDI track in another app (say, Cubasis), you can also use Oriental Strings to play that track through Inter-App Audio (IAA) as well.

I records a demo of some of the sounds in Oriental Strings. I used several of the presets, including Turkish Strings, Arabian Strings, Tremolo Strings, the Oriental Spiccato Strings, Oriental String Quartet, Arabian Solo Strings, and rounded it out with the most clichéd Arabian phrase while using the four Erhu sounds. I used the Standard Hall reverb throughout. In listening to my playing again, I did seem to play in a very staccato style, but you can hear some longer notes to hear the vibrato. Please note: this demo was played using standard Western Tuning, and no microtonality was used. Please also note: I suck at playing keyboards.

Technical details time. The app is iPad only. It does support iOS 7 and up, so good news for some of the iOS 8 holdouts. As the app uses samples, it is big. We're talking 1.89 GB big, so you may need to make some room on your iPad if you are strapped for space. As previously mentioned, the app is IAA-compatible, as well as JACK. Sadly, no Audiobus compatibility.

Oriental Strings is definitely a "niche" app, one that I would put in the same category as the recent Ruckers 1628 Harpsichord, or even Crudebyte's own iSymphonic Orchestra. Perhaps not every one needs this for their typical track, but for those that are looking for high-quality samples with an ethnic flair, Oriental Strings is definitely worth a look.

If you are thinking about buying Oriental Strings, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 945125583]

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