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Entries in noteplex (1)

First Thoughts: noteplex for iPad

noteplex is a fascinating new way to create music on your iPad. It uses a board made up of lots of little cells onto which you place 'nodes' that, when activated, play sounds and trigger pulses which shoot out in multiple directions to hit other nodes/sounds creating chain reactions and melodies.

Pulses and Visual Displays

As you can see from the demo video above, this pattern of pulses provides what looks like a many-coloured fireworks display representing the audio's path around the screen. It can be quite beautiful to look at. The whole experience brings a smile to your face and a sense of satisfaction when you get the patterns working harmoniously together.

Samples

The sound samples are quite useable, mainly synths but with bass and drumkit sounds included too. If you want to, you can also add your own samples to the soundbank, which extends its potential even further, although it has to be done via iTunes File Sharing which is a bit of a clunky workaround.

Complexity

The variation of sound samples, note life, volume and replication gives this app an extraordinary depth, not something that can be fully understood at first sitting. The more we have experimented with the app the more we have been amazed at how much you can do with it and some stunningly complex arrangements are possible.

Controls

Note selection (pitch or drum part) is via a multi-coloured keyboard at the top left of the screen, with sound sample dropdown, node type, note volume and note life settings continuing across the top of the screen. Below that are the move, add (edit) and erase tools for nodes.

At the bottom of the screen are more controls for tempo, pulse rate (experimenting with this dramatically changes your song) and playback controls along with File save, open, upload, and Net (more on this below).

The usual pinch and zoom controls allow you to place notes more accurately, it can be a bit fiddly getting the note to appear in the right place without zooming in.

Sharing and Inspiration

Like a few other iOS apps, noteplex allows you to upload and share your creations, as well as download songs created by other noteplex users. You do this via the Net button at the bottom of the screen, where you get to see the 'Most Recent' uploads as well as the 'Top Rated' songs. Selecting any song will download it to your iPad ready to be played.

You make a song a favourite by pressing on the star at the bottom right corner of your screen as someone else's song is playing.

This is useful when you are new to the app to see what others can do with it, but noteplex lets you edit their songs as if it was one of yours. You can see what they have done, plus add or take away nodes of your own. Maybe this is a way to collaborate on noteplex songs in the future?

Bugs

There are a few glitches, the sound stutters occasionally during playback and always when a menu is brought up whilst the song is playing. We had a few random crashes too but this may just have been low memory on our iPad.

Occasionally, after downloading one of the songs from another user, the text in the Sound and Tempo boxes turned into big white blocks and the sound stopped working, which was a bit odd and we thought it may be to do with custom samples in that track.

We are sure these issues will be addressed in an update though and on the whole, for a first release, this app is very impressive.

Try It!

At just $1.99 (£1.19) in the app store we would definitely recommend you check out noteplex. With a little patience and experimentation with node placement, note life and the node types, we think you will be impressed with what noteplex is capable of.

Be sure to let us know what you think of noteplex in the comments below, we are keen to hear what your impressions of it are.