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Serious music-making and song-sequencing apps on iOS tend to fall along the more complicated end of the spectrum, requiring many hours of tweaking, fiddling, and experimenting before you can master them. It's rare to find a song-crafting app that aims squarely at the younger set and strives to inject a bit of lighthearted fun into the process. Luckily, StarComposer bridges that gap fairly well. It packs a simple, streamlined presentation and enough musical variety to keep its intended audience tinkering away with lots of silly songs, but a couple of head-scratching design decisions keep it from being truly great.
You start by picking a music style to play, which is depicted by a goofy virtual band sporting genre-appropriate costumes. From there, you can input pre-recorded instrument patterns for each band member with a quick tap, and plugging in headphones (to isolate the sound coming from the app) lets you overdub your own vocal tracks onto the jams you've just laid out. You can build a full song in less than a minute and share it online or watch your virtual band rock out in concert.
Unfortunately, each band member only has three basic instrument patterns to work with, making your songs pretty limited and one-dimensional. Musical style variety extends that slightly. Paying for the full experience (a $5.99 in-app purchase) gives you a grand total of 10 different band styles to play, ranging from classics like rock, metal, and funk to more modern-sounding genres like drum & bass and dubstep. The costumes are mostly clever and each band's sound fits the style well — albeit in a campy sort of way. That said, it doesn't take long to burn through all there is to offer here, and the premium price tag to access all of the content doesn't feel entirely worth it.
While StarComposer delivers a short blast of musical fun intended for a younger crowd, it's not quite clear which age range this app is geared towards. The overall simplicity and limited patterns won't be enough to keep older kids busy for very long, and elements like the upside-down pentagrams on the heavy metal band's attire likely won't jive with many parents looking for something kid-friendly.
The bottom line. StarComposer offers breezy composition for younger musicians, though it's a short-lived and simplistic experience.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 6.1 or later
Charming art style. Lots of musical genres to play with. Accessible music-making for younger crowd.
A little too limited when it comes to song patterns. Heavy metal inverted pentagram costumes might not sit well with parents. Songs get a bit overdriven audio-wise in some genres when all instruments are playing simultaneously.