App Name: Figure
Available Platforms: iOS
What does this app do? There's never been a better time to be an amateur electronic musician. Apps ranging from the novice-friendly Garageband to more complicated programs such as Audulus are priced affordably enough for anyone to try their hand at creating a musical masterpiece.
But what if you just want to sketch? That's the basic concept behind Figure from Propellerhead Software, an intuitive iOS app that promises to have neophytes and pros alike laying down sick beats within seconds.
The Swedish software company is best known for its high-end music production software, Reason, which emulates studio racks full of synthesizers and audio mixers on a home PC. With Figure, priced at 99 cents for iPhone and iPad, they've taken the democratization of music creation to its logical extreme.
Figure takes full advantage of iOS's multi-touch technology, providing the user with large, colorful touch pads that offer tactile control of three basic components: drum, bass and lead (melody). Above those pads are dials that allow adjustments to the rhythm and musical range. Additionally, one can choose to adjust other aspects of the loop, such as tempo and key.
If you don't know what all this means, it doesn't matter. Figure rewards experimentation, and it's nearly impossible to create a lousy beat. Propellerhead claims that Figure's synthesizers are the same as those used by Reason, and each of the components has dozens of instrument presets to choose from. So while Figure is easy to dive into, its many variables mean that the sounds users create with it are bound to be unique.
One thing Figure can't do is create a full song from start to finish, but you can export your sounds to iTunes to later combine within a full-fledged sound editor or sequencer.
Should I try it? Ultimately, Figure may not be a tool for creating serious music, but it's a pleasing time-killer for electronic music fans who just can't stomach another round of Angry Birds.