I guess if you’re not from the UK or indeed old enough to remember Stylophone™, the original pocket synthesizer; you may be thinking ‘WTF?‘ round about now.
But being a child of the sixties and growing up geographically closer to the Beatles than the Stones; I actually fall into both camps. (Wrinkly Brit, that’s me ;o)
As an avid fan of all things musical and especially all things gadgety (typical male); I was gob-smacked when TV celeb Rolf Harris introduced the nation to the pocket synthesizer. (‘WTF!?‘ I would’ve said, if I were old enuff and prone to profanities). To my shame, I remember pestering both parents non-stop for said gizmo and subsequently spending hours and hours (and hours) murdering such classics as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. (I’m assuming Mick’n’Keef didn’t pen that gem).
Must’ve driven my old dear up the wall with my relentless stylus-tic endeavors. (Can take a while to figure out some tunes, when you’re a nipper). Come to think of it, I’m not sure what ever became of my particular gadget? Maybe one of my parents finally buried it in the back garden, after one-too-many renditions of Happy Birthday. (Didn’t matter when anyone in the family was born; someone on the planet was getting serenaded …whether they wanted to or not ;o)
I think the photo opposite shows a slightly later model than I had, but you get the idea. A miniature keyboard (not unfamiliar to piano players); with notes played by completing an electrical circuit via a stylus on metal keys. Having seen the magnitude of some of the home organs of the day, I couldn’t get my tiny mind around the fact some genius had invented something so dinky.
It’s funny how this should pop into my melon after all these years. But pop it did; then nostalgia got the better of me and I just had to write a natty little monophonic synth to relive the maestro feeling. ‘course the iPhone feels even more comfortable in the palm of your hand and your finger’s a natural replacement for a stylus. But best of all is that Styleyfone takes me back to my childhood and gets the creative juices flowing quite nicely ;o)
Of course the kids of today are spoiled rotten with their polyphonic synths, with umpteen voices, pitch bend and what not. But I prefer getting back to basics and focusing on training your ear. There’s a warm fuzzy feeling to be gained from picking up any musical instrument and noodling around for a while.
Styleyfone’s available on the AppStore and comes with 2 voices (as did the original, Stylophone™). I also figured out a few riffs’n’tunes and grabbed some other tabs off the internet. So there’s some on screen ditties included to getcha going. Some may be horrified at tab notation of e.g. 6 – 6.5, rather than F – F#, if they’re not familiar with it. But I think most people will be playing by feel (or ear) soon enuff anyway; so who am I to fly in the face of what’s already out there? ;o)
Here’s a quickie demo of the beast in action. Apologies to the original composers, (and to your ears), seems I’m a tad rusty. (Or perhaps I peaked at age 6 ;o)
Anyway, you get the gist. Go download it and indulge your inner Geek. You know you want to!
As for me; I’d like to tip my hat to Brian Jarvis, the genius who invented the original device. Thanks for the fond childhood memories sir. (Btw…if you see my mother headed your way, I’d take cover if I were you. I’ve decided to play Angry Birds whilst she’s in the room, for fear she also buries my iPhone in the back garden…;o)