When you hear a ukulele, what comes to mind? That melancholy “Over the Rainbow” cover? Not me. I think of my dad playing “Ain’t She Sweet” or “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue (Has Anybody Seen My Girl?)” at Church Camp. I also think of Brian May’s work on “Good Company,” one of my favorite Queen songs. Regardless, I never thought the ukulele would bring the iPad to mind, until the Futulele app was released.
What is it?
Futulele is a ukulele synthesizer of impeccable design. Whether you’re playing it entirely on the iPad or using it conjunction with your iPhone (more on this in a bit), you’ll get fantastic sound and a control method that makes perfect use of the iPad’s touch screen.
The Retina display graphics of Futulele don’t just look fantastic (I love that string vibration), they’re set up in a manner that makes the app very simple to play. You can either strum (swipe) the strings (screen), or you can hold the Automatic button. Strumming is more fun, yes, but Automatic is more accurate as you learn the strumming mechanic, especially considering you can preset the automatic strumming style). You can play individual notes, as well, by either tapping directly on the string or on the button at the end of the string.
The bottom left corner of the interface contains your chord set, which you can define by song. The interface for doing so is simple and clean; create a new song, tap on the button where you want the chord placed (twelve buttons are available), then select the chord, including options for minor, diminished, sustained, etc. You can set up as many chord sets as you like, then switch between them easily when you’re ready for your first full gig at the local coffee shop.
The options go much deeper than this, as you can set the delay, EQ, tempo of the automatic strum, etc. Musician or not, playing around with the interface for a while will create some robust options for you, you just have to know how to put it all together. And once you do, you can record your performances and share them to iTunes.
But perhaps the most unique feature of Futulele is its WiFi/Bluetooth integration with the free Futulele Remote app. This places the chord set on your iPhone or iPod touch, which, in conjunction with the forthcoming Futulele case, will create a more natural looking and feeling ukulele experience. The case is expected to be released yet this summer. In the meantime, you can use the two apps as my daughter and I do when playing the songs from Adventure Time; she strums on the iPad, I hit the chords on the iPhone.
Is it contagious?
Very much so, especially if you’re a lover of ukulele music…or just joy of any type. Futulele looks and sounds fantastic, and it’s a lot of fun. You’re still going to need practice time to get the timing and “fingering” down, but even that can be entertaining.
If I could make a request, I’d like to see additional songs / chord sets available as in app purchases (10 come with your purchase, including—yes—”Over the Rainbow”), along with tutorials for each song…perhaps the chords could light up so you can more easily see what to hit when.
But even without these conveniences, Fututlele is one of the best iOS music apps I’ve tried, managing to be uniquely iPad while retaining the charm and fun of the physical instrument. As long as there’s an iPad, I guarantee I will have Futulele on it.
Category: Music Developer:Amidio Cost: $2.99 (current sale price) Buy:Futulele