You can download an app to do near enough anything these days. From flinging perturbed poultry at fortified swine, to checking out the latest flight information, the age of the iDevice has ushered in countless useful, and useless, applications to sink our time and teeth into.
Today’s announcment of the Futulele in some ways took that concept one tiny step further: the ability to download a virtual ukulele!
Well, sort of. You’ll need both an iPad and an iPhone/iPod to play the Futulele, along with an attachment to link up your devices into a more familiar ukulele body and neck arrangment. Check out the release video below:
Besides the combined price of the devices, which places the Futulele in amongst some very high-end, quality real life instruments, the main thing that sticks out is the apparent lack of feel when playing the app.
For players of stringed instruments, especially of those that belong to the lute family, the tactile feedback of your fingers on the strings and fret board is an integral part of playing the instrument. Without this, the Futulele cannot be an easy thing to play, write or improvise with, as shown by the demonstrator’s reliance on checking her fingering visually throughout the video.
You can’t exactly feel your way around a neck that’s made out of flat, featureless glass can you?
Of course, the majority of people who will purchase and play the Futulele won’t be looking for or expecting a real musical instrument – it’ll be just another fun, disposable plaything for their Apple device. The app does evoke memories however, of the widely mocked Scrabble app that required four iPhones to act as tile holders for players sat around an iPad ‘board’.
Do apps such as these zap away some of the charm of the traditional originals they ape? Whilst placing tongue firmly in cheek, the app’s creators, Amidio Inc, state that “sure, a regular ukulele might be cheaper, but who are you to argue with the future?”
Back in the present, high quality, budget ukuleles have never been cheaper and more available. Brands such as Puretone offer players a range of ukes from reliable, low cost entry models to more substantial instruments to hone and development their skills with.
Futulele joins Rockband and Guitar Hero as an interesting musical gateway toy, but the easiest route to a musical experience is still picking up an instrument and having some fun.
Have you played any similar instrument apps? How did they feel? How did they sound? Do you agree with this article or do you think we’re wide of the mark? Drop us a comment below and let us know!