I'm not much of a musician. Back in grade school, I was always the kid who got the triangle while all the other kids got flutes, slide whistles, thumb pianos and other neat instruments. So when I first saw Smule's Ocarina, currently the best-selling, paid app in the App Store, I knew I would finally be able to express my inner vibe.
No such luck, but I have to say that Ocarina is by far coolest instrument I can't play.
Ocarina couldn't be any simpler: It consists of four virtual "holes" that function in the same way as the real holes on a flute or similar instrument. Place your fingers on any combination of holes and gently blow into the mic. Tilting the phone enables you to control pitch and vibrato. Before you know it, you can be playing beautiful melodies, at least you can if you have a little bit of talent.
It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one incapable of carrying a tune. How do I know? One of Ocarina's coolest features is that it I can listen to people all around the world playing, or trying to play, their Ocarinas just by tapping an icon of a globe. Right now, there's a person in South Africa who is practicing scales and there's another person in Mexico who is doing a pretty good job with the theme from Star Trek. I haven't found anyone playing the theme from Zelda, but Ocarina would be perfect for that.
You have options for naming your Ocarina, changing the colors of the finger holes, sharing your compositions and few other settings.
Ocarina is well worth $.99. To paraphrase the legendary rock band, Spinal Tap: Everyone else's app goes up to 10. This one goes to 11.
Caveat: Ocarina works only with the iPhone. Sorry, iTouch owners.
Smule's YouTube video of Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" has been viewed more than 250,000 times. That's about 50,000 more views since we ran our interview with Ge Wang, Smule's co-founder last week.