Friday, July 8, 2011

Playing around with iNudge

The other day a friend posted a link to iNudge saying that it was a pretty good music creation tool.  I was instantly interested and started to play around with the application and here are my impressions.

iNudge is super easy to use.  It reminds me of a combination of an extremely stripped down old version of Fruity Loops, where song programming was more or less done in a step sequencer, and a monome in a 16x16 grid layout.

The way the interface is broken down is pretty self explanatory.  On the very far right is a column of 8 tabs which are your available instruments.  They consist of 7 various keyboard/synths and the very bottom tab is the drum section.  With the exception of the drums, the instruments have no "note" indication.  The drums contain, from top to bottom: Crash Cymbal (CR), Timbales (TI), Bongos (BO), Tom High(TH), Tom Middle 2 (TM2), Tom Middle 1 (TM1), Tom Low (TL), High Hat Open (HO), High Hat Closed 2 (HC2), High Hat Closed 1 (HC1), Clap (CL), Snare 3 (SN3), Snare 2 (SN2), Snare 1 (SN1), Bass Drum 2 (BD2), Bass Drum 1 (BD1).

In the very bottom right corner of the iNudge interface are two buttons: play/pause and volume.  Everything mentioned up to this point is the very basic look and feel of the application.  This is perfect for just playing around and, speaking in general, is geared toward those with zero music background.

Now, if you want to get a little more our of iNudge, there's a button at the bottom of the interface that says "MORE."  By clicking the button it opens up a few other options.

To the right you'll see a big "+." Click on the plus sign if you want another bar of music.  If you do, you'll see "-" under the plus sign.  Click on the minus sign if you'd like make your song a bar shorter.  Tip:  When you click on the plus sign it copies everything from the previous bar, so if you want to create a new melody, or drum beat, you have to clear the patterns out of the newly added bar and then go from there.

Speaking of copying, at the top of the interface, you'll see clear/copy/cut/paste commands and right below that you have a little button that allows you to copy "ALL" or "SELECTED" (which is the section of music).

Below the step sequencer is your timeline of your song and there's a rectangle that you click and drag to bring you to a section you would like to view.  There is also a position marker that you can also click and drag to a specific point in your song.

Beneath the timeline is the "LESS" button which brings you back to the simple interface that you originally started out with.  Next to that button is the volume for the instrument so you can adjust how loud it is in the mix.  There's also a mute button for the instrument. It's a little dot right below the volume "knob."  Next to the instrument volume know is the pan knob.  This allows you to shift the sound of the instrument left or right in the stereo field. Next to that is the instrument name, then the CLR button, which clears the current pattern.  Finally at the bottom right is the tempo button, the volume knob for the entire song and the play/pause button. To use the tempo button, click and drag your mouse up and down to change the tempo of the song.  The minimum tempo is 60 beats per minute (bmp) and the make is 180 bpm.  That's everything you need to know about iNudge.

Overall, this is a cool little toy to play with if you're not very musically inclined.  If you do have a background in music, it's very limiting.

iNudge is limiting in the following ways:

  1. You're stuck in a 16th note only step sequencer.  There is no way to play anything beyond 8th note patterns.  No support for quarter notes, triplets, sub 16th note divisions, or the ability to tie notes.
  2. There is no way to stop the song from looping.
  3. The drum instruments are a bit flat and weak.  If you want your bass drum to have a little punch, layer it with the low tom (TL).  Snare drums aren't the greatest either.
  4. You can't compose anything slower than 60 bpm or faster than 180bpm, so you won't be making that super slow downtempo tune and you won't be making any speedcore either.

Things I would like to see:

  1. A couple of basic effects such as reverb and delay to add a bit of depth to the song 
  2. An EQ that's basic and easy to use.  A bass and treble knob would do the trick
  3. The ability to use more notes such as quarter notes, triples, etc.
  4. Better drum samples.
  5. A way to save the music as .mp3 or .WAV files
I understand that iNudge is geared toward easy music creation and I think a little bit of the the above additions couple make things more interesting.

Just for fun, here's something simple I threw together.  I think you might even be able to play around with it too.


  1. Thanks for the breakdown - Never really explored it the other day. May just have another play around.

  2. Hi John! You're welcome. It's a fun little toy to play with.