We at GeekDad have been closely following the evolution of UK musician/educator Pixelh8 from renowned chiptune artist to full-fledged musical evangelist over the past year. By crafting performance tools like his Super Chip Tune Samba Band and speaking out against the High Court’s recent decision to ban the import and use of the R4 homebrew cartridge, Matthew Applegate has positioned himself as someone wholly dedicated to the preservation and continued growth of the chip music movement.
With the recent release of a new iPhone app, the first from his Room 1 Studios, Pixelh8 is looking to spread the good word of lo-fi electronica to an even broader audience. SONUS (ONE) is a free application that injects an element of randomness into mobile music making. Imagine it as a cross between a digital wind chime and retro gaming classic Pong.
Six balls haphazardly careen around inside the largely barren rectangle of the game space. A bright, minimalistic sound is generated when one or more of these collide with the “walls” of the enclosure, with each ball creating a different tone. The user isn’t completely powerless, mind you – a series of six moveable blocks can be used to cordon off or redirect the balls. The result is something that is amusing and effortless, almost Zen-like, and most certainly tuneful.
Heavily inspired by composer and music theorist John Cage, most specifically his focus on chance and improvisation, Matthew describes SONUS (ONE) as “a spatial realisation of aleatoric or randomly generated music.” Moreover, as the title implies, he admits that this entry is merely the first in the SONUS series. It’s freely available and compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch devices running iOS 4.0 or higher, so make it a point to add it to your musical arsenal.