Here’s a pitch you don’t expect from an iOS developer: Dot Melody is “kind of weird and limited.” Oh yeah, and how about those glowing hands-on reviews from the first people to try it? Well, reactions “ranged from confused to outwardly hostile.”

But wait – we’re in the music making business. Weird and confusing is kind of our bread and butter. Musicians are the group of people willing to invent things like the French Horn (it’s impossible to play, but on the upside – it’ll sound mostly terrible). Or the bagpipes. (Possibly useful if you’re going into battle and want to frighten people?! Also a useful way to upcycle goat carcasses…)

So here’s another thing Dot Melody is: it’s different. That confusion lets you turn melodies around and see them in a different way, free of dull step sequencers and inane patterns.

And to me, it’s not that confusing: it’s actually an elegant way to visualize tunes on a touchscreen. Here’s how it works:

Instead of thinking of music as flowing left-to-right like in many languages and sequencers, the app places notes on a two-dimensional grid in which note duration corresponds to vertical location and pitch to horizontal location. The underlying pitch grid can be dynamically changed with chord buttons on the left of the screen, while new patterns are generated with pattern buttons on the right.

And now it runs on iPad, so you’ve got more room for that visualization if you like.

And sync means you can integrate this weirdness with your existing music setup.

Ableton Link
MIDI clock
Inter-App Audio Sync

– all supported.

Want a review? No. It’s US$3.99. Just get it already.

Here’s how you use it (old videos, but you get the idea):

Including a MIDI example:

It’s also from the creator of Patterning and Chordion. Think of Dot Melody as his first, more underground release – before he got famous. This is the one the die-hards use. It’s Meet the Feebles for all of your friends who only caught on to Peter Jackson with Lord of the Rings. (Okay, uh, maybe more like The Frighteners.)

But Olympia Noise Co. remains one of the cleverest music app developers around. Oregon, represent. (And I thought all of the cool developers were in Berlin, sort of in my office.) Kudos to Ben Kamen.

Honestly, just go get everything they make. (Now also including Ableton Live export.)