Ocarina is touted by Smule as the first true musical instrument created for the iPhone, and they’re spot on. Ocarina is a simple application which transforms your iPhone into an ancient wind instrument that you can actually play.
The controls are simple enough. Four dots represent holes in a traditional ocarina. Holding down the holes in combination or by themselves changes the pitch, creating notes. Within the app’s settings, the ocarina’s mode and pitch can be changed to suite nearly any tune.
The good: Ocarina is a real instrument. There are no precompiled riffs and therefore just about any melody can be played, and it’s extremely easy. If you’re new to the ocarina, Smule offers help and techniques on their site. Additionally, a forum is available where users can submit and request scores for various songs.
You can immediately begin playing Ocarina with the scores already available on Smule’s site. We went right for the score for the Zelda theme. If you feel up to writing some ocarina music, Smule also offers a score generator.
Tilting the iPhone back and forth adds vibrato to the notes you play. Tilting from side to side also changes the vibrato rate.
Ocarina is also a social application. Tapping the globe icon brings up a virtual rotating globe where you can see and hear other players around the world. The globe highlights the source and you can skip past the ones you don’t like.
The bad: There’s really nothing I don’t like about this application. The only issue I ran into was translating the dots into notes. Smule may have this on their site, but I couldn’t find it.
You may also become light-headed if you play often enough.
The Bottom line: It’s quite obvious that a tremendous amount of thought has gone into the creation of Ocarina. It’s tons of fun to play and ridiculously simple to start, even if you don’t already play an instrument. For the countless hours of fun you’ll have with it, Ocarina is a must have iPhone app.