Korg’s iElectribe app for the iPad perfectly illustrates the musical capabilities of Apple’s tablet computer. A dead on simulation of the Korg Electribe beat-box sequencer, this app makes elegant use of the iPad’s touchscreen interface.
While other virtual instrument apps for the iPad suffer from the touchscreen’s lack of velocity sensitivity – try playing softly then loudly on any piano app – this isn’t a relevant issue with the iElectribe, which is useful for creating electronica, remixes, or hip-hop backing tracks.
The iElectribe app comes with 64 preset patterns which make for a good starting point for writing one’s own loops. The app features 8 different effect types, as well as the entire sound library of its hardware older brother, the Electribe. In fact, anyone familiar with the original Electribe will feel right at home on the iPad version; the iElectribe’s interface is that intuitive.
Tweaking Beats is a Breeze on the iElectribe
Any of the 64 presets are chosen either using a dial near the top left of the screen, or by using the convenient pattern browser which displays the pattern’s beats-per-minute and genre. Once a pattern is selected, playback is controlled using the on-screen play/stop buttons.
The lower part of the iElectribe’s screen is taken up by the 16-step sequencer and a part selector, where the user chooses between each sound in a pattern. Once a sound is selected, it is modifiable using a robust array of parameter knobs on the top right of the screen. The app also fully supports multitouch, so multiple parameters are simultaneously tweak-able! With eight different effect types and a tube gain feature, the sonic possibilities are nearly limitless. The iElectribe’s Advanced Motion Sequencing feature allows all real time knob changes to be recorded and played back at anytime.
Creating Patterns from Scratch
Even with all the preset patterns, the iElectribe also makes it easy to create patterns from scratch. Users can either use a template based on a genre, or a completely blank pattern to start with a clean slate.
After a fresh pattern is in memory, pattern composing is a simple process of selecting different parts and choosing which beats for the sounds to play – all accomplished by tapping the relevant part or beat number. Doing this all while the pattern is playing allows beat creation to become very intuitive and fun.
Thankfully, a pattern’s time signature isn’t limited to 4/4, as the number of beats per measure is variable from one to sixteen. So it is possible to create very edgy electronica in the tradition of Laika or The Orb.
Tapping the write button allows for the naming and saving of the new pattern. The iElectribe holds 64 user patterns, in addition to the 64 preset patterns and 32 templates. All this data can be backed up to a user’s iTunes account.
It is also possible to export the audio from the pattern to iTunes for sharing it with friends, or to use it within other recording software to more fully orchestrate the pattern into a song. The audio format is a 16-bit stereo .wav file.
Korg’s iElectribe is one of the best music apps currently available for the iPad. It is highly recommended for anyone with a passing interest in electronic music, or to musicians looking for an inexpensive beat sequencer.