iPhone Life magazine

Make music with Magic Fiddle!

Do you know how to play the fiddle?  Want to learn... on your iPad?  Smule may have outdone themselves this time with the introduction of Magic Fiddle ($2.99) because I think they've really created a new instrument, not just an electronic fiddle.

Though having studied violin for a short period in college, little skill remained, that is until I bought Magic Fiddle on a whim.  I can not put it down and have been practicing constantly, even giving my family a short recital on Thanksgiving day.

How does it work?

Well it takes a bit of getting used to playing a "string" instrument which is not only about 1/4 the size of a fiddle, but is also flat, and of course has no strings.  But it is surprisingly easily to hold just like a regular fiddle and play. 

Basically the lay out is like the bridge of a fiddle flattened and localized to one size of your iPad.  Without a proper bow, you use your right hand thumb on what I call the bow button while you use your left hand to hold the iPad with finger placement almost the same as a fiddle, obviously it can not rest in your hand like a fiddle because there isn't a neck, but after a while my left thumb got used to it.  I'll get the down side out of the way now, because there in one, just one.  It's right handed.  I'm not sure if it's that hard to reverse it for lefties, like my son, but it's a consideration.

To play you press the bow button with your right thumb, while doing the fingering with your left hand as you would on a real fiddle.  To pluck "strings" requires you to press and hold the string(s) you want to pluck at the base with your right hand and taping the string with your left. What makes Magic Fiddle really fun though is that you can download quite a few songs which the app will teach you how to play, by scrolling lines, dashes, dots and wavey vibrato lines, color coded to each string over the position you need to move your fingers.  These preloaded instrumental pieces also have a piano accompaniment.  It's fun to learn this way.  The app not only keeps track of your performances, how many notes you correctly get, but how well you play the piece, how often, etc.  In Smule fashion you can also broadcast your performance, as well as listen in to others.  You can buy more song packs (.99) through the app as your skill improves, and you want more challenging pieces.  Of course if you just want to fiddle around freestyle you can do that too.

When you get really serious you can tune Magic Fiddle, add or remove the frets, adjust the pitch, and so on.  So what does it actually sound and look like?  Watch my recital in the woods as I play Silent Night, sorry that it's a bit dark I thought the stars would brighten the picture more. 

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