Saturday, October 13, 2012

Figuring it out

Recently, Propellerhead put out a new version of their Figure app on the iPad and with the new update finally provides audiocopy to the program. This makes it one of my favorite beat-making apps and provides a great starting point for many of my songs.

Figure uses the underlying sound engine from Propellerhead's famous Reason DAW but presents the interface in a touch manner fully suited to the iPhone/iPad. The app itself is an iPhone app but scales beautifully on the larger iPad screen.

Originally the Figure app would only play 2 bars of music and had no save or copy abilities. Now you have the option of recording 2,4 or 8 bar sequences and with Audiocopy, you can easily paste the resulting sounds into a DAW to create larger compositions.

The "wheels" in the app let you set up syncopated rhythms that cycle in the pattern and my lifting and lowering your fingers rhythmically, you can also syncopate the syncopations! This lets me put together some very funky rhythms very quickly.

My favorite technique is to record a few 8 bar licks, then copy the individual parts into Garageband or some other DAW to assemble into larger pieces. I add in additional synths and parts from there.

If you are making use of the "Pump" option, however, you should audiocopy the parts together and not in pieces since the "pump" causes a side-chaining effect to occur in the melody and basslines based on the bass drum.

With the ability to put together complex rhythms, the ability to tweak and bend the sounds with just your fingers, Propellerhead have taken full advantage of the touch interface of the iPad without just throwing a "virtual" keyboard in front of your face.

I think products like Figure, Animoog and iElectribe are where music making on the iPad should be going and I'll be making good use of them moving forward!

Here's a few recent pieces I did using Figure as a starting point - one was composed in Garageband and the other in Tabletop:


  1. Very interesting. I have only used Figure as a musical "toy" to diddle around when stuck in airports, etc. Very cool to hear you employing it in proper composition.

    1. Its very cool - recently they added "ties" to the wheels so you can alter the patterns even more. I wish it had AudioBus but the audiocopy works great and it always records exactly 2, 4 or 8 bars which make combining the pieces in a DAW very easy to do.