An interactive history lesson about ancient musical instruments.
This cookie-cutter offering is broken into four sections. The brief introduction—painfully slow when the app’s narrator reads it—offers a few foundational facts about music in the ancient world. Next comes “Learn & Listen,” a collection of 11 instruments (two of them human voices) accompanied by text that gives a brief description and a few facts about the instrument. Tapping the active instrument triggers a short demonstration, though the animated movements aren’t synced with the audio. Disappointingly, the harp demo consists of two notes played repeatedly at the same rhythmic interval; little ears and fingers will be begging for a glissando. Furthermore, the little man who demonstrates one of the lyres is plucking it with his finger, but the sound is distinctly bowlike. Once all the instruments have been demonstrated, readers can move to “The Orchestra,” where one or all instruments can be tapped to create unique combinations of sound (playing them all at once creates quite the cacophony). Finally, there’s the “Music Room,” where readers are instructed to “pick an instrument” they can haltingly play while reading facts about related objects displayed on a pedestal.
The concept is strong, but the delivery has more than a few glitches. Slow response coupled with incongruous and primitive features leave this app somewhere in the Middle Ages. (iPad informational app. 4-8)