noteplex for iPad Review

Innovative music apps are starting to appear on a fairly regular basis for the iPad, and for good reasons. Apple has had a long standing relationship with musicians, harkening back to the days of MIDI on the Apple IIe and original Macintosh computers. As the interface has changed over the years, so too have the means of interacting with musical data.

noteplex is one of these new breed musical applications for the iPad in which players select a central dot or 'node' that radiates outward for the duration of its audio cue.  Activating other nodes by touching them with the same or different instrument selections will trigger additional sounds. The musical keyboard in the upper left of the screen can be used to change the pitch of the note being played back. The nodes are spaced out evenly, aligning with the musical beat and time signature being played. When a radiating line intersects another active node, that triggers a playback of the intersected node, which then triggers additional radiated lines from that newly activated node. While this may sound confusing, it's actually straight forward and easy to pick up after a few minutes of experimenting with the noteplex interface. Fortunately, mode of expression, the developer behind noteplex, has posted a video of the program in action that shows precisely how this musical intersection works.


noteplex screenshot

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In addition to being able to change the instrument, the pitch and duration of the notes, noteplex also offers the type of node radiation to further promote its creative, 'game of life' style of approach to targeting musical playback triggers. And once a killer composition has been created, it can be shared online with other noteplex users who can then rate the submission accordingly. Custom sounds can also be imported via the iTunes App File Sharing interface, elevating the program to a sampler with groovy and sometimes hilarious outcomes.

noteplex screenshot

For those familiar with the Hasbro Lite Brite, I tend to think of noteplex as a Lite Brite for music. While noteplex will likely not be used to author the next great symphony or pop song, but it's a fun diversion, especially for those lacking formal musical training. If you can paint with your finger, you can make music with the intersecting, radiating lines of noteplex. And for less than two bucks, it provides entertainment equivalent to games costing the same or more while giving you the satisfaction of creating rather than just consuming.

Title: noteplex
Developer: mode of expression
Price: $1.99
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.