Scape creates new age music on your iPad

Brian Eno is one of the greatest musicians and producers in the long history of rock. His ambient music is beautiful and ethereal. I have listened to it for years to relax or let my imagination fly.

He's also produced music for U2, Devo, David Bowie, Talking Heads and others. He composed the startup sound for Windows 95 which, I might add, he created on a Mac.

Now, Brian has partnered with musician Peter Chilvers to create Scape, an iPad app that lets you set some parameters and let your iPad create beautiful landscapes of ambient music and sounds.


This is not a notes-on-paper composition tool. The screen is filled with icons that represent various sound beds and punctuating tones. You mix and match to your pleasure, then listen to the result. You can play your music in the background, or simply watch the music layers undulate on the screen. The output interactive compositions are great. The app supports AirPlay and the Retina display on the latest iPad. Scape sounds good enough when played through the iPad's speakers, but really shines with headphones or external speakers.

You can mail your Scapes to a friend, but they can only play it back if they have Scape installed on their iPad. That's really my only complaint about this app.

I talked with Chilvers about this and he told me that the "general point of Scape is that it's generative -- each Scape will be a subtly different experience every time it's played. So we're trying to convey the idea that a composition can be something rather flexible and fluid -- a set of seeds if you like -- and freezing it as a static audio file rather goes against this."

That's a very valid point of view of course, but I'd still like to save these in MP3 format to install on my phone or iPod to take with me. Chilvers promises to ponder this suggestion. I'd also like to see an iPhone version, perhaps even a Mac app.

Scape is really powerful and artistic. Eno and Chilvers have been involved in this sort of interactive music before, with Bloom for iOS, and two other music-generation apps -- Air and Trope. Scape is a great leap forward, I think, so if you are into music, and especially appreciate Eno and ambient compositions, Scape is made just for you.

Scape is US$5.99 at the App Store and reasonably priced for what it achieves. It requires iOS 5 or greater, and once again shows, yes, the iPad is for creation, not just consumption. If you'd like some more info and a demonstration check this YouTube video.