Smule have released another entry into their musical app series. This time hitting the string genre with Magic Fiddle.
They first burst onto the scene with the great Zelda inspired Ocarina. Second up was less than stellar with Leaf Trombone, an irritating noise maker. They gave the piano treatment a go with Magic Piano (which my Nephew adores) and now here we are with the Violin.
While this is more in line with a music app, it does rate you on your performance when playing along with its library of classic and popular tracks. Much like Guitar Hero it gives you a grade and shows you your note hit ratio, so there is a music game in there too. Much like their other offerings, Smule have included the World map feature which lets you hear other players around the world and share your skills with them too. Don’t expect Nigel Kennedy though, instead you’ll hear something more in line with a cat being strangled. Actually to be fair, with practice you can get a good sound out of it. By linking up with Magic Piano, you can play along with a friend, and also some of tracks include a cello mode, so you can get a little mini orchestra together if you like.
I’ve never played the violin before, I was more of a trumpet man. But I always imagined it to be one of the harder instruments to master. Smule seem to have replicated that experience here to, as for me it was very difficult to keep up with some of the harder tracks out there. One of the key reasons for this is Smule’s insistence that you hold the iPad in a similar position to a real violin. While this does add an element of realism, it’s damn uncomfortable to hold. Played on the lap it’s far easier, but then that kinda ruins the point. To play notes you use your left hand to hold the frets as and when the coloured lines fall towards your strings, while holding the sound activation button on the bottom right (from looking at the iPad positioned on your shoulder) you have to time your presses as the notes hit pass over the strings. You can rest your chin on the top corner, for which you will be treated to strange bubble emanating from that corner, but its not necessary.
Once again Smule have created a great looking and easy to use interface. It doesn’t look very violin like, instead featuring a more modern/space age look and feel, but I like it. The tutorial is also very well written, referring to itself in the first person. It even lets you name it… I called my fiddle ‘Bernard’!
Overall then, if you liked their previous music Apps, then you’ll love this. It is hard to master, and i’m not sure if it could actually help anyone wishing to learn the violin. But, if you want a bit of fun messing about with music then you can’t go far wrong with Magic Fiddle. Just make sure you sound proof your house, or you might find a queue of cats lining up outside your front door.