Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch (2nd generation), iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Age Rating: 4+
A nice voice and some musical talent are great tools to have at your disposal, but software maker Khush thinks all you need to create music is an iPhone and one its apps.
“Most people aren’t trained in music, and they’re intimidated by the idea of creating music themselves,” Khush CEO Prena Gupta told me in an interview. “We want to remove that barrier.”
To that end, Khush has focused its app-making efforts into products that put music creation tools in the hands of novices. The company made a splash last year with LaDiDa, which it bills as a ‘reverse karaoke’ app that provides pitch correction and accompaniment for your singing. Khush’s latest app, Songify, doesn’t even require you to sing—just speak into your iOS device, and the app will turn your words into an auto-generated song.
I put both Khush apps through their paces and found a lot of fun—as well as more than a few flaws—in their approach to music creation.
But does Songify deliver on that promise? Like LaDiDa, this new app features pitch correction and builds a melody around your input. The difference here is you’re speaking, not singing. The concept is inspired by The Gregory Brothers, whom you may recognise from such auto-tuned YouTube sensations as Double Rainbow and I’m Not a Witch. Indeed, Khush developed Songify with the Gregory Brothers, who contribute a few musical styles to the finished app. Songify claims to use artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to turn your words into a Gregory Brothers-style sensation.
The results, in my opinion, are kind of mixed. I recorded myself reading Richard Nixon’s 1962 Farewell press conference, applied a club-style beat called Testy, and came up with a generally pleasing end result. But I was a little disappointed that the app didn’t single out particular phrases for repetition. It just seemed to drop a sentence here or there—usually the last sentence in what I recorded—before looping back to the beginning. The ending of Songify-generated songs can also feel a little abrupt.
Songify doesn’t provide much in the way of editing tools. You can’t adjust which phrases get repeated or how the song ends. There is a Re-Songify option, in which you can have the app take another crack at your recording, either with the current style or by applying another musical track. Note that the app ships with three styles, but you can add more tracks and style packs through in-app purchases. (You can’t record or share anything with these options until you buy them; you can, however, listen to a brief sample, which is a nice touch.)
Talk into the machine: Songify’s controls are simple. Tap the circle and record yourself speaking; tap again to stop.
You’re able to share your finished product through email (either as a link or an attached file), Facebook, or Twitter. Use either of those last two options, though, and the app also uploads your creation to its Winning! music library, where other Songify users can listen to and rate your efforts. I found that to be a little off-putting to be honest—I like more control over who I share my content with, and if there’s an option to turn off the automatic uploading to Winning!, it’s not readily apparent, either in the app itself or in Songify’s slender FAQ.
The controls in Songify are also modest, sometimes to the app’s detriment. Recording your voice is simply a matter of tapping a large circle in the middle of the screen. Songify also includes buttons for selecting music styles, looking at your library of saved records, and accessing the Winning! feature, though those buttons aren’t clearly labelled, and it can sometimes be a guessing game as to which one will take you where.
I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with Songify—my friends certainly got a kick of out of my dramatic readings of Richard Nixon speeches and assorted poems. (Poetry actually blends quite well with the backing tracks on Songify, as I discovered in a recording I dubbed ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Pru-RAWK.’) I’m impressed by how the app can process a recording in seconds and churn out a finished product, even on older hardware like my iPhone 3GS. But Songify is a decidedly more passive experience than LaDiDa. Until it gives users more editing control, the app is not much more than a neat party trick.