Designed by musician and instrument maker Durian Songbird, it provides the user with a realistic and vivid wind-playing experience.
“My goal was to design a highly expressive app that offers the subtle nuances of a real wind instrument—and I’m extremely happy and excited with how it turned out,” says Durian, founder of Songbird Ocarinas. “Whether you’re a beginner or an accomplished player, you’ll have an enjoyable and musically fulfilling experience with this app.”
The Songbird app has a three-octave range, and is played by blowing into the iPhone mouthpiece while fingering the instrument on the phone’s touchscreen. Physical movements add additional expressiveness: tilt the phone up or down to change octave, tilt right to bend a note higher or left to bend it lower, and shake to add vibrato.
Make the experience of playing Songbird even more authentic with the optional TooT mouthpiece, which is ceramic, just like a real ocarina. The TooT, which can be ordered from the Songbird Ocarinas website, fits over the iPhone’s microphone and provides a comfortable perch for your lips, focuses your breath right at the mic, and is equipped with four holes for fingering.
The Songbird sounds are all meticulously multisampled from authentic historical and modern instruments, and offer a high degree of realism. The app lets you dial in reverb and delay to add tasteful ambience to the sounds.
Two instruments, Ocarina, and Birdsong, are included with the app. Many others—including Bagpipes, Clarinet, Oboe, Trumpet, Bassoon, Pennywhistle, Crumhorn and more—are available via in-app purchase for just 99 cents each. You can also buy specialized instrument kits for $4.99 each, such as the Early Music Kit, the Middle Eastern Kit, the European Kit, and the Orchestra Kit.
An added value with Songbird is its included song collection. The songs come in the form of backing tracks complete with tablature showing the correct fingerings. The tablature scrolls as the song plays, and you can adjust the song’s tempo to suit your ability. The library of available songs is constantly expanding and ranges from very simple to extremely challenging.
Also noteworthy is Songbird’s ability to stay active while the iPhone’s iPod app plays music in the background. That allows you to jam along with any of the songs on your iPhone. You can also route Songbird’s output into Apple’s GarageBand app and use all of its effects, looping, and other recording capabilities.
Many more useful features are planned for subsequent Songbird updates including ringtone creation, sharing on SoundCloud and Facebook, and saving as scrolling tablature.
The free Songbird app is available now from the iTunes store. Everyone who downloads the app will get a discount coupon for a real ceramic ocarina.