App Tip: Novation Blocs Wave

Construct music one loop at a time
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Novation’s new Blocs Wave 8-slot looping app for iOS 8 or later (blocs.cc) makes up for its simplicity with an elegant interface and high-quality audio material. Six sound packs are included, with many more in the in-app Store for $1.99 each. You can also record your own material or use third-party sounds in this quick-start music-building app.

1. Start a new session and touch one of the eight cells across the top to select it. The color-coded wheel at right has blocks for drum, bass, percussion, vocal, melodic, and effects parts. Just touch any block for a loop to be selected at random and begin playing. To choose specific loops by sound pack and type, go to the Packs menu. The first drum or percussion loop you choose sets the tempo, and the first bass or melodic loop sets the key, but you can change either setting from the upper right-hand corner.

2. From the Edit mode screen, you can choose the loop points on a zoomable waveform, move the loop select and use Slip to snap an attack point of the soundwave to a marker of the beat grid. Experimenting with these tools can lead to some interesting off rhythms. To the far right are the loop volume slider and mute button. You also mute/unmute the eight loop cells by sliding down or up on them.

3. Go to the Record mode screen to record your own sounds from either the built-in mic or from almost any connected audio interface. Here, you can monitor your input volume and set the count-in and loop lengths before recording. When finished, you can name and edit recorded audio.

4. Blocs Wave works with the third-party standards Audiocopy and Audioshare apps both to import and to export loops. You can export the selected portion of any loop as WAV or AAC audio to other apps via AudioCopy and AudioShare, or by simply emailing it as an attachment.

Blocs Wave sells for $4.99 at the iTunes App Store.