There are enough musical-instrument apps to fill an orchestra, converting iPhones and iPads into everything from pocket pianos to trombones. But the new NodeBeat doesn’t just ape another instrument; it transforms your iPad into a miniature, interactive music generator.
Developed by Seth Sandler and Justin Windle, NodeBeat was inspired by Bloom–a blockbuster app from Brian Eno, the ambient-music guru, with the developer Peter Chilvers–that allows users to create hypnotic sounds (and accompanying colored circles that grow and fade like ripples in a pond) by tapping the screen:
According to Sandler, NodeBeat differs from Bloom in some fundamental ways, focusing on rhythmic (beats) qualities and patterns, rather than on ambient sounds. Here the user can adjust such effects as the length of a note and the amount of echo. And whereas Bloom transmits sounds based on where the user touches the screen, NodeBeat generates music based on the distance between a “Note” node and an “Octave” node.
The cosmic melodies are like a trip down the henna aisle of a New Age store. But we also imagine it being used to keep a child blissfully occupied on a long road trip–provided the tunes don’t lull the driver into a meditative stupor.