If you’ve read any of my previous stuff on Smule, it probably goes without saying: I’m a bit of a Smule fanboy. I can’t help it. They started making cool stuff for iOS way back in 2008, and haven’t stopped since. Sonic Lighter. Ocarina. Leaf Trombone. I Am T-Pain. Glee. They just… don’t… stop.
Following up on the launch of Magic Piano for iPad back in April, Smule is about to debut a spiritual successor (of sorts): Magic Fiddle.
Though the name may imply otherwise, Magic Fiddle really shares more with Ocarina and Leaf Trombone than it does with the titularly simular Magic Piano. Where as Magic Piano ditched any sort of gaming/scoring mechanism in favor of focusing on giving the player some freedom to express themselves, Magic Fiddle brings those mechanisms right back.
The easiest way to explain the gameplay would be through a rather obvious comparison: Magic Fiddle is essentially Guitar Hero, on an iPad, with a fiddle. (That’s dumbing it down quite a bit, but that’s what most would take it as at face value.) You start by propping the iPad much as you would a violin, with the bottom left corner of the screen placed right beneath your chin. Red, yellow, and blue notes scroll down from the edge of the screen nearest you toward three strings — again, red, yellow, and blue. As the colored note meets the string of the same color, you place your finger on the note’s position on the string whilst “drawing the bow” by thumbing an area behind the strings. Confusing? Check out the videos down below for some awesome demonstrations.
The way Smule introduces the user to Magic Fiddle is sort of.. well, magic. The first time you launch the app, a dialog begins; it — “it” here being the fiddle — asks for your name, and then asks you to name it. From that point on, your Fiddle is your friend.
In Storybook mode, your fiddle teaches you the mechanics of the game while sneaking in some music education. In Songbook mode, you and your fiddle work through tunes from Pomp and Circumstance to Canon in D in hopes of cracking out the best score. In World mode, you can listen to folks from around the globe jamming on their fiddles (with their fiddle’s name displayed prominently at all times). At the very least, the whole naming thing is an adorable way to sneakily coax you into bonding with an inanimate object.
I’ve only had Magic Fiddle for a few hours — but so far, so good. The Solo (freestyle) mode is a blast for showing everyone just how totally tone deaf I am, though I wish there was a way to record things.
If I had any other negative notes, it’d be that the Songbook is currently a bit too.. classic. Bach. Wagner. Grieg. Brahms. It’s old dead dudes, all the way down. I get why, of course — the violin is very much a classical instrument — but a good chunk of the people buying are gonna want some popular, modern day jams. Fortunately, I have a feeling that Smule plans on addressing this (mostly because I spotted an artist I don’t think I was supposed to see yet, as her track disappeared from the Songbook a few minutes after I booted the app. Don’t worry, Smule — that secret’s safe with me.)
Ready to get to fiddlin’? You can find Magic Fiddle on the App Store for $2.99 right here [iTunes Link].