By Mike Riley on Mon, 09/06/2010
Looking for a creative musical composition and improvisational audio instrument that will keep your inner composer busy for hours on end? Then check out Amidio's Seline HD, a new approach at turning the iPad into a synthesizer optimized for the iPad's screen and touch interface.
Fingering the ioGrid on-screen keypad that triggers notes takes some practice, just like learning any new musical instrument for the first time. Odd notes are positioned for the left hand, while even notes sit on the right side of the split screen. Pitch bends and vibrato effects can be incorporated into the playback by manipulating the circle inside middle diamond shape on the screen. Notes can be stepped up or down using the up and down on-screen arrows accordingly.
Pad sounds can be selected for either the Lead or Drone (ambient layered background music. Lead sounds include over 20 different voices ranging from cellos and clarinets to violins and various synthesized tones. Nine background Drone sounds ranging from Far East "Eastern Temple" layering to spacey "Galaxies" give the lead playback expansive textures. Better still, the Drone playback nicely compliments the Lead playback by keeping in sync with the notes being played. Occasionally a sour combination slips through, but only when intentionally not trying to play melodic chord structures.
Players can record their creations in .WAV-formatted sound files. These recorded files can build upon previous recordings for multi-track dubs, layering on full orchestrations of the various instruments available in Seline. To get an idea of how expressive and broad Seline HD can be, watch this high-tech iPad Orchestra quartet at ipad-orchestra.com.
So where does Seline shine? I discovered that Ambient dub and even orchestral music can be created using the intelligently driven algorithms of Seline HD's "CrystalClarity HD" sound engine. While you don't have to be a musician to catch on to how Seline works, it helps if you have some musical inclinations since the nomenclatures and layout assumes familiarity with letter-based musical assignments.
Seline kept me occupied for hours, playing various melodic structures and breathy compositions, but one significant omission that I really missed was its current lack of percussion. As such, the thrill of jamming out to a heavy beat in a impromptu, improvisational session is diminished. While I respect the constraints that Seline's developers are faced with on the limited audio track playback of the iPad, the omission of percussive elements currently limits the standalone audio of Seline-authored music to a constrained category of musical styles. Perhaps future releases can add this essential element for some really exciting creative possibilities. In the meantime, Seline tunes will be percussion-free unless accompanied by an external drum machine or playback .WAV track containing a percussive beat.
Even without the inclusion of built-in drum beats, Seline is a lot of fun. I have found myself getting lost in allowing Seline to take me along on expressive musical journeys to ambient sonic places. As the application matures, I can envision like-minded, musically-oriented Seline users gathering online or even jamming together and creating a whole new category of synthesized music and live performances. I congratulate Amidio for taking an innovative approach to music, breaking free from the traditional major/minor piano keyboard layout and forming a new musical experience around a 10" touch screen computer. It's a bold experiment that I look forward to evolving toward its acceptance in bands and single user compositions alike. Good job, Amidio!
Product: Seline HD - Music Instrument
Price: $8.99 US
Rating: 4/5 stars