A fun music creation tool that lets you you to create music using what is best described as a virtual human beatbox.
There are very few times when browsing the internet that one is actually astounded at what they find. Surprised is a common reaction, disgusted is another, while annoyed, confused, bemused, and downright angry are other common feelings that are evoked whilst net surfing, but astounded comes around very rarely, so it can be inferred that it takes a bit of something special when it does.
After being hooked on the incredible physics-and-the-science-behind-those-questions-that-you-never-thought-to-ask videos from Vsauce, I eventually stumbled on a video that briefly mentioned Incredibox as a point of entertainment interest. Though the video was simply regarding a number of things you can do if you are the common mixture of bored and online, from pcsmash.com I discovered that Incredibox is far more than just a casual thing to do to kill 5 minutes: it is a musical tool whose stylish interface and ease of use makes it better than many step sequencers I have ever played, and though the licks and particulars of the music are pre-prescribed, the combinations of music you can produce are impressive nonetheless.
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that Incredibox started out in 2009 with what is now known as “Version 1”, and two more versions have been released since then, but they all work on a very basic principle: the layering of pre-synthesised musical licks and riffs. The interface consists of a wide screen that initially has one scantily-clad gentleman standing on the left hand side. In Incredibox, each person represents one layer of sound capable of accepting one of the twenty different looping samples that are found on the bottom of the screen. The idea is to drag and drop the samples at the bottom onto the different men, which causes them to become clothed with garments unique to this particular sound. It may sound like a bit of an unusual way to go about sequencing music, but playing this creative game for just a minute allows you to realise how incredibly well thought out it really is.
The whole game draws its might from the samples that run along the bottom. These are split into four different categories: beats, effects, melodies, and voices. All you have to do is then drag and drop your desired samples – you don’t know what they sound like until you use them either, which adds to the beauty of this tool of musical discovery – onto the blank men, of which there can be a maximum of seven belting out their parts at one time. Though you may worry about your tunes clashing, developer So Far So Good have already thought of this; each sample complements the next perfectly, so you can’t possibly create a terrible tune, just one that sounds different according to which samples you use. Think of it as a complete track that has been sliced up into its constituent parts (of which there are many) for you to layer back up again like a massively tasty musical layer cake.
There are various options that are handy to use such as the ability to mute all sounds, a “solo” button that mutes all layers aside from the one you click on, and a mute button so you can have only selected layers playing. Compositions can also be recorded and published on the site’s database as well, with hundreds of other people’s compositions up there for listening to as well.
Though the design of Incredibox has changed over the years and its three versions, it is still recognisable as the same, ingenious acapella sequencer with a unique interface and has been enjoyed by millions of players. The graphics aren’t elaborate, but the distinctive 2D cartoon style makes it hugely enjoyable to look at. Small details like the performers’ eyes focusing on the objects you are dragging and dropping onto them, and their small movements and facial expressions as they perform gives the whole thing a new dimension of character and vibrancy. This has to be one of the greatest light-hearted musical sequencing games I’ve ever come across, and though it’s not much use as a composing tool since the tunes are predetermined, it is a great way for people of all musical abilities to enjoy layering music and creating their own stylish piece of music with a game that looks infinitely more impressive than many other sequencing games out there (Music Bounce, for example)