iFretless Bass: a new musical instrument app for iPhone and iPad

iFretless Bass (AppStore Link)
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iFretless Bass
Developer: Ngo Minh Ngoc
Price: $9.99 Download on the App Store
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Blue Mangoo Software is pleased to announce the release of iFretless Bass 1.3 for iOS. IFretless Bass is an app that sounds like a real bass guitar and has an original user interface design that makes it more playable than other iPad guitar apps. YouTube videos demonstrate the developers making music in a way that shows iFretless as an expressive new musical instrument, capable of taking its place in the studio alongside guitars, keyboards and drums.

"If you've ever watched youTube, chances are you've seen an iBand; a group of musicians who get together and jam on their iPhones and iPads. It's a joke, usually," said Hans Anderson, Director at Blue Mangoo Software. "Some of the performances are polished and well played, but it's the novelty of watching rock stars strumming on mobile phones that attracts viewers, not the quality of the music. But with iFretless, the iPad is now a legitimate musical instrument. Have a look at the videos and you'll see what i'm talking about."

The iFretless user interface is designed to allow users to play live music on an iPad, cleverly avoiding the usual limitations imposed by the small screen size. Here are some of the features that make it more playable than other musical instrument apps:

9 String Bass:
Squeezing the 34 inch neck of a bass guitar onto the screen of a 9 inch tablet is a challenge that requires compromise... or ingenuity. Most guitar apps approach this challenge by adding a scrollbar and by making the space between the frets much smaller than the fret spacing on a real guitar.

IFretless takes a different approach - instead of scrolling along the length of the strings, it adds more strings in the vertical direction. The iPad version has nine strings and nine frets on the screen so you can comfortably play a range of three octaves without scrolling at all. A total of 81 notes are visible, each note having a touchable area that leaves plenty of room for the sloppy fingerwork that happens when musicians are grooving hard.

An Expressive MIDI Controller:
The iFretless Bass sound is solid enough on the low strings to stand in for a real bass guitar but the selling-point of the app isn't the bass sound. Instead, it's the MIDI feature that gives this app the ability to connect the iPad to electronic keyboards, software synthesizers, and digital audio workstations and make use of the high quality sounds and samples there.

Virtual MIDI: iOS Users Don't Need Midi Hardware:
There's a wonderful secret among the iOS musician community: virtual midi apps. On the app store is a growing collection of software synthesizers that run directly on the iPhone or iPad without using any external hardware at all. These apps run in the background; when connected to iFretless via virtual MIDI, each time the user plays a note in iFretless, instead of hearing the built-in bass sound, she hears a Hammond Organ, an electric guitar or a Moog synthesizer. Whatever sound you're looking for, chances are there's an iOS virtual midi app that offers it.

An Instrument Designed From The Ground Up For iOS:
The iFretless developers didn't want to make another guitar imitation app. The GUI borrows from guitar design but whenever there was a choice between making it more like a guitar and making a smoother playing experience on the iPad, they chose the better playing experience.

To start, they chose not to include an imitation of guitar string bending. "There are much better ways to use the vertical axis of motion than bending strings. And there's no need for bending; sliding horizontally, a la fretless bass, is so much more expressive, more precise." said Hans Anderson, Director at Blue Mangoo Software.

Instead of bending the strings, sliding a finger in the vertical direction allows you to smoothly slide between strings, making for some very fast arpeggios. Removing the string bending also makes it possible for the user to scroll the strings in the vertical direction by pulling up or down vertically. If you find this difficult to visualize, the last of the three videos explains it well.

Supported Languages:
- US English, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Vietnamese

iFretless Bass 1.3 is $4.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Music category.

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