Figure, the iOS app that’s powered by Reason instruments and effects, is now available on the App Store for US$.99 cents. The sound is Reason on your phone – literally, with the Thor polysynth and Kong drum machine, plus the Master Bus Compressor and side-chaining from Reason in effects. But the user experience is quite different. Introduced as something you’d use on the bus, this is really more about playing drums and making melodic gestures with your fingers, then tweaking those sounds and musical elements via X/Y touchpads. It’s a little bit like Korg’s Kaossilator and Reason had a love child.

For beginning users, this could mean a friendly environment to play with your fingers. But for more advanced users, there’s still enough open-ended room to work so that actual music talent might yield a very different result.

A number of our readers pointed to other apps like Intua’s Beatmaker, one of the first iOS production tools on the iPhone, as more fully-featured micro workstations. (Going back to the days of the Palm handheld, you might see something similar.) But there are already good options for those; Figure appears to be something different.

Features:

  • Drums, bass, lead synth
  • X/Y pad controls melodic figures, constrained by key
  • Adjustable controls for key, rhythm, tempo
  • Tweak as the songs play

What’s remarkable about Figure is as much what it doesn’t do as what it does. There’s no MIDI control. No AudioCopy/Paste. No SoundCloud export. No … export. Actually, absolutely no saving. All of this is in itself rather interesting, if only for the reason that it swims upstream, and if you make something you like, you have to sample it with another piece of gear. (Cue various people upset about this, others who defend its purity. Go.) Me? I’m not, uh, super thrilled not to be able to save, but I’m going to run with it in my test – plug it into my KAOSS Pad, record without a click, $*&# with the result… okay, yes, in a weird way, it could wind up being more fun without it.

More information: propellerheads.se/figure

iPhone-optimized user manual (readable from your computer, too, though, if you’re curious)

And you can find Figure in our Apps section, then grab it from the iTunes App Store (or add your own review):
http://apps.createdigitalmusic.com/apps/figure

(We’re working on expanding functionality in that store with our partners; expect a full look at what we’re doing for this multi-platform collection of apps this month.)

  • Brendan

    No *here’s* an app that could do with having SoundCloud integration ;) I’m sure some kind of export/share feature will come…

  • BirdsUseStars

    I love the condescending “lets read you a story, idiot-boy” tone of the description section on the propellerheads site. 

  • Mike Kiraly

    This is quite enjoyable, but it seems clear that this is just an introductory version. I don’t expect it will gravitate towards a mini-Reason, but I can definitely see some quick updates that would take this to the useful territory – namely export (duh) and multiple patterns and the ability to chain them.

    But the interface is slick and quite enjoyable. Worth 99 cents for sure.

  • dumafuji

    man this is a fun toy!  i think the rhythm feature is euclidean, not a 100% sure.  and i really like the scale and tonality choices.  i think of tracks this way before i start a project, so i really like it.   it’s cool, its a specific way of making loops, its dead easy and sounds good.  i was making a track literally in under 5 seconds.

    at some point later being able to load your own sounds and export audio and/or midi tracks to your DAW would be cool.  but geez, for the price, this is exactly the kind of cool little phone app you want.  i’m on an iphone, so it’s perfect.  i could see an ipad version expand a lot.

  • Jared Arnold

    This is a fun little app, and I think most of the limitations make sense. But no saving patterns seems crazy. Unless I’m missing something, you have a single 2 bar loop, and you have to record that externally if you want to move on to another idea.

  • Michael

    Wouter Hisschemöller’s Euclidean MIDI/OSC app has been mentioned on CDM before and deserves to be mentioned again, especially if you are fond of the circular rhythm generators in Figure

    http://www.hisschemoller.com/2011/euclidean-pattern-generator-1-1-osc-support/

    (disclaimer:  I helped add OSC support)

  • mercury

    i really love how korg kaoss app allows you to set a musical scale and then play it while moving up and down. can u do this on this app? i wish there were a way to get a similar touchpad app which sends midi out so i can play other vsts and synths in the appropriate key scale and not keep hitting “wrong” notes. yes i realize this is part of what being a good musician is all about but i’m more interested in having fun with it….anyone know of an app that allows me to set the scale and play my ipad as a midi device sending out “correct” midi notes based upon the scale i pick? (and/or) even better an arpeggiator

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000306109591 Achillea Mahko

      SoundPrism Pro, Polychord, & Thumbjam. SoundPrism Pro will have an
      arpeggiator soon, and Yamaha’s Keyboard Arp & Drum Pad has a nice
      one now.

    • Tom D

      Not used the others but Pianist Pro will give you a MIDI scale keyboard with arpegiator,

  • vinayk

    Its pretty easy to create something nice sounding on this… Really like the interface – it doesent really make sense to have a full featured keyboard on an iphone display sometimes.

    Agreed on the soundcloud/wav export – would be nice to now import this little loop into ableton (or even reason for that matter) and mess with it…

  • pnt6f

    I love you props and i love reason but this is disappointing.

  • dplex

    I love Propellerhead, but I don’t feel this is worth my time without export, save, or iPad-native resolution.

  • gesslr

    It’s fun…for a short time. The 2 bar limitation, no saves, no exports quickly grates. I mean, look at the Props own scenario: Create something on the fly while on the bus. Great. I guess you can only create ONE thing while you run your errands ’cause you’ll lose it if you move on to something else (or the next two bars). I hope ‘saving’ and ‘bars 3-4′ are not in app purchases…! :-)

    My comments sound more negative than I feel; Figure IS a lot of fun. It’s just frustrating in some really peculiar and unnecessary ways. Maybe the point is not to fall too in love with what you make or something….

  • gesslr

    ….Would also be cool if it would optionally let you work the controls while in landscape mode…Figure+iPad+Alesis ioDock=fail. (That’s the way I get iPad sounds into my system.)

  • rondema

    All style - no substance.

    I’m trying to figure out the reason Propellerheads bothered with this app.

    PS why is NanoStudio still absent from your otherwise comprehensive App list? A massive omission surely… indeed such an app is much more worthy of coverage on this site.. it is CREATE not PLAY DIGITAL MUSIC.

    Just saying :)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Why is Nanostudio missing? No idea. Fixed. ;)

    • rondema

      Excellent service ;)

    • http://www.bloomingtonelectronic.com/ Mark Kunoff

      +1 on Nano Studio. I’m using it as a psuedo multi timbral synth being driven by an MPC1000. Report is coming Peter…

  • http://twitter.com/conner_bw Dac Chartrand

    Purchased. Fun. Affordable. Thanks.

  • CWC

    I agree.. this was a strange use of R&D imho.  Have loved Reason for a long time and v.6 is moving in the right direction.  They really need to fully port this program as a full App in IOS, it’s one of the few “DAWs” that could probably perform adequately.  

    Personally I’d just like them to get VST/AU support and create their own iPad controller App, now a new controller app would have been worth a lot of R&D.
    Great idea on the SoundCloud integration, I agree.

  • No

    I think it’s a teaser. Good on them, but I can wait. I have many excellent applications on my iPad that I will learn to use better instead of adding this.

  • pulsn

    This is not only pure fun to use, it´s a) excellent designed, b) excellent sounding, c) has an excellent user interface, simplified down to the core, down to functions that you really need, but not too simple that´s it turns into a toy. To sketch ideas, and deliver song ideas it´s a fantastic tool. Within a few minutes it inspired my songwriting. http://soundcloud.com/puls-n/pulsn-cloudbuster
    No Soundcloud? Who cares. No longer than 2 bars? Who cares. No whatever? Who cares! This app is simply perfect as it is. Thank you Propellerhead! Works great as deliverer of ideas! Love it!

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I’m curious – how did you record it? Just plugged the headphone jack into something? (I mean, any number of ways that you could do that, but curious about your workflow.)

    • pulsn

      Yup, simple than that. What else do you do with a Kaossilator? The K. also has no Soundcloud Export and noone complained about that…

    • pulsn

      Oh and i recorded it into Reason Essentials via my Mackie mixing desk.

  • http://www.bloomingtonelectronic.com/ Mark Kunoff

    I think there is more work to do, but this app is fantastic already. It seems to me the most obvious comparable app to this is iKaossilator. Both are very forward thinking interfaces which utilize the limited real estate of a touch screen. Due to my downtown location, I walk to many places. Being able to play with a music app while walking scores huge points for me. In fact, with such forward thinking IA, I can do a lot without even looking down at the device. 

    Both these apps give me that ability. So often apps are created with their desktop equivalent in mind and thus, music app interfaces on mobile devices become cluttered and difficult to navigate. Propellorhead deserves credit for realizing how important good information architecture is to mobile music making. With Korg you get more bars, more export options, but Figure has it’s own strengths:- Innovative key, tonality and scale range options (more musical possibility than fixed scales)- Full screen X/Y and drum pad when rotating the device- Side compression ‘pump’ feature- Unquantized input – (rhythm zero)- Great sound!I’m becoming so more productive, churning out new ideas using my iPhone and iPad. Figure will definitely be a part of my future compositional efforts.I so enjoy making music while walking around town! I’m recording found sounds during my walk (construction sites, the combined hum of cafe conversations, birds, etc.) and FSU, to be used as composition material. Peter, I should probably write up an article about how I work on songs while hoofing it. Here are a few other noteworthy apps which I prefer for an afternoon stroll in the park:

    - RGB Sound
    - Moog Filtatron
    - iMaschine
    - bleep!BOX 

    Ironically, Propellorhead’s ReBirth is nearly impossible to navigate on an iPhone. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/IamRay_J R.j

    This is great and intuitive… for iPhone users, BUT i also have a iPad, and thats a whole different beast. On a iPad a directish port of Reason would be much more sensible. I like my piano roll, thats how I learned to make digital music, nanostudio(followed by the new garageband) is by far the most intuitive iPad daw for users like me, I relate to how I learned to make music in Logic, I think touch screens makes the workflow easier, so why can’t we have something really serious for once? There is nothing wrong with alternative interfaces and real time control, but for gods sake, give us something that doesn’t feel limited.

  • http://www.facebook.com/VoyagerRFManagement Nicholas Binder

    downloaded and deleted. this is not the kind of “Korg monotribe”-minimalism that I love, it’s just a piece of shit so to speak…

  • Toadc69

    i think it’s an amazing job y’all did.  well done.
    check out TouchPose on cydia , makes it even better to use Figure on the phone’s touchscreen! btw, I dont work for them 

  • http://twitter.com/jachee Jake Achee

    I grabbed this one, and have been having lots of fun with it.  To me it’s really more of a sketchpad, to put together ideas and be inspired, with the option of plugging it into something external if I decide to record directly.  The thing that no one’s mentioned is that there IS a kind of save.  Figure has *excellent* state retention.  If I put it down today, I can pick up later today, tomorrow, or in 2 weeks and continue the same “doodle” I was working on. 

    I also dig the ability to override a recorded section non-destructively.  So I can record a 2-bar chorus on the lead, and fiddle around with it, then let go to let the recorded bit play.  It’s a very well-thought-out hands-on experience for me. I hope they make a version for the iPad that’s as fun and easy.