I’m not Japanese, and I have no musical talent whatsoever… but iKoto is a pretty kickass iPhone instrument.
Says Wikipedia, the ‘koto’ is the national instrument of Japan and was invented like 1,600 years ago. It’s really freakin’ old. iKoto puts a virtual koto on your iPhone that you can play pretty much any way you like. Tap the strings one by one, tap several at once, or run your fingers up and down it like a harp.
I can’t really comment too much on the sound quality because I’ve never played a koto before, but it sounds really Japanese! I mean, it sounds very familiar, like I’ve heard this instrument many times over the years in movie soundtracks and whatnot, so I’m guessing the sound reproduction is pretty accurate.
The most impressive thing about iKoto, though, is the recording option. You can press record, rock out on the strings, and then replay what you just did… and the recording will still be there for replay later on if you exit the app. There’s also an option to let iKoto play a sample song if you’re a talentless hack.
The only thing that’s missing from this app is the ability to save and email your recorded mini-concerts. If it could do that I think it would go a long way towards encouraging people to really practice and try to gain some competence on this instrument.
I think this app qualifies as a “must have” if you already know how to play the koto. If you’ve never touched one of these things before but you’ve got some musical ability and want to give it a try, $.99 is a very small price to pay.