Aviary Roc: A Simple, Free Online Music Creator

April 14, 2011 | Posted By: Lior Levin
Many podcasters, video bloggers and online musicians have started creating their own songs and beats, using music creation software as a way to get original, high-quality and royalty-free music for their various projects.

These applications are to music what word processors are to articles. They allow the creator to assemble the various pieces of a song including various instruments, notes and effects, and bring them together into a cohesive song.
Professional-grade music creation applications can be very expensive or even free, though open source alternatives can be confusing and challenging.

However, Aviary has introduced a new application, Roc, that it hopes can change that.

Roc is not only free, but, as with all of Aviaryís products, it is completely Web-based. This means it runs inside your browser without any installation required. Because of that, Roc may well be the perfect tool for anyone who wants to learn music creation but is too daunted by the prospect of making their own music.

So is Roc right for you? It depends completely on your needs.

What Roc Is and How it Works

When you first open Roc up, you are asked to select an instrument to get started. Once youíve done that, you are presented with a three-pane interface.

The first pane, to the far left, lists your various notes that you have in your song. To the far right, at the top, you have folders with all of the instruments, and at the bottom, you have the various notes each instrument can play. Those notes can be dragged into place on the left hand side so they can be used in the song.

The middle, however, is where most of the work is done. You are initially presented with a series of empty dots which, when clicked, will become filled with blue. This is what turns notes off and on. When a sphere is blue, a note will be played on that beat; when itís empty, it will be silent.

Across the top of the page, you have standard elements such as your master volume, your tempo and your ability to set your editor mode (toggle between beat and velocity mode, the latter of which lets you set the velocity for each note separately).

All in all, the interface of Roc is fairly self-explanatory and one even a novice at music creation can jump right in and use.

What Roc Does Well

Simplicity is what Roc does best. Though its interface might be intimidating at first, itís very easy to jump into and use, even if youíve never dabbled with music creation before or never even read music.

Even by just using the default instrument set, acoustic drums, and playing around with the ďrandomize beatsĒ function, you can make some interesting loops in a matter of minutes. Once you understand the basics, you can then easily tweak or build your own loops in a matter of a few minutes.

The instruments available in Roc are varied and let you create a wide variety of sounds, making for a virtually limitless number of loops. This helped by the fact that Rocís drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to set everything up and start adding in beats.

Roc itself, as with most of Aviaryís apps, feels more like a native application than a Web-based one. It moves very well, every action is snappy and it generally responds the way you would expect a native application to react.

That being said though, Roc isnít about to replace native applications. As great as it is, there is a long way for it to go before it becomes the go-to music editor for anyone beyond a dabbler.

Rocís Limitations

All of the ease of use that Roc provides comes at the expense of flexibility. Every loop in Roc is limited to 12 instruments and 32 beats.

While you can actually do a great deal in that time, you wonít be composing a rock opera or your new dance tune in it. Instead, itís primarily used for creating short loops, such as the ones that play in the background of podcasts.

This limitation is, most likely caused by the amount of processing power required to convert larger songs. Even with the short loops, it often takes Roc several minutes to save, process and export the audio to an MP3 or WAV format. This is also one of the buggier parts of Roc as it didnít work at least twice during testing.

But even beyond the length issues, Rock lacks a lot of the features that are standard in other applications. You canít record your own tones, you canít create and save loops for later use, and you canít do any advanced mixing (just volume and pan).

In short, if you already have a music editing software, Roc isnít going to impress you.

Conclusions

Roc is an application that was made for those who have never tried music editing before. Itís a great way to quickly see if you like it and may want to explore it more. However, those who have any level of seriousness will want to step up to a standalone app, even if it is a free or open source one.

So, if youíre new to music editing, give Roc a try and have some fun. You might learn something about yourself. However, if youíre already even remotely serious about it, pass on it for now, itís too simplistic and too limited to be of much use.

This guest post was written by Lior who is a consultant for iAdvize and also helps the guys at city-immigration.com
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