April 29, 2011
Robick, a new music analysis and teaching aid from Japanese app maker Birnimal APP, was released in the App Store just a short while ago. Similar in many respects to the well-received and highly-touted Capo app, Robick's primary mission is one of musical edification. The app sets out to teach its users to dissect and play back music by ear, altering a track's tempo without changing its pitch. This is extremely useful for those wanting to get at the core of complex song sections, letting them slow down faster parts to hear every note; and -- as with Capo -- Robick allows the full importation of any song from your iPhone's playlist. That, though, is where any similarity between the two titles ends. Robick features three main modes of control, each containing its own series of tweakable parameters. The first mode is a simple analysis sequence that allows you to navigate and create loops within the track. A quick toggle over and you're on to the quantitative key, pitch, and tempo controller. In real time, the user can adjust these settings to +12/-12, +1.00/-1.00, and 150%/50%, respectively. The third mode is all quality-based, providing a three-zoned independent equalizer for highs, mids, and lows. All modes feature a zoom functionality for increased precision. For learning songs by ear, Robick is a capable and easy app to use. However, with its stylized "turntable" presentation, it's quite clear that the app makes a simple and useful party interface. True, you can't scratch the tracks like a DJ might, but the tempo and equalizer adjustments can really add a surreal (almost dreamlike) subtext to otherwise familiar songs. For educational and social purposes alike, anyone interested in track manipulation can't go wrong with Robick. Just be warned, the app doesn't give much in the way of instruction. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to figure out. Currently for iPhone only, Robick is available in the App Store for just $2.99.