Hexpress is a collection of musical instruments for your phone. You can use it for learning, playing and composing music whenever you have the time – on train, while waiting in line and during boring meetings. Using headphones (non-bluetooth) is strongly recommended for louder and better sound quality, and to not disturb others around you. The application has simple, colorful and clean interface designed to be accessible to young children.
While each instrument behaves differently in some way, in general notes are played by touching shapes on the screen, and sound is shaped by tilting the phone left-right and up-down. Different instruments have different effect controls – fade in, reverb, tremolo…
Most of Hexpress instruments have unusual honeycomb note arrangement that’s sometimes called “harmonic table note layout”. It has many interesting properties compared to standard piano layout:
• effective utilization of device screen (3+ octaves range)
• note relations (intervals) are uniform across whole range; to transpose song to different key just play same patterns on different part of instrument
• most chord shapes are grouped tightly and they can be executed with single finger swipe
• in typical scale and melody runs, notes are alternated between fingers of two hands, so they can be played with speed and precision
• large intervals are as accessible as smaller intervals
Besides honeycomb layout there are also instruments with conventional fretboard, and a drum set for finger-drumming.
Instruments are not meant to be reconfigured within the app. One reason for this is that it gives you a chance to actually learn the instrument (you couldn’t learn a guitar if the tuning was different each time). The other reason is that constraints and limitations actually encourage creativity and make it more accessible to younger users. I’d like to improve existing instruments’ sounds and visuals based on your feedback, but there will most likely never be any settings/options to fiddle with.
The app is work in progress – interface, sounds and features are all subject to change. The app doesn’t collect any information about user and cannot access internet. Storage read access permission is optional – it allows anyone to customize sounds and other instrument behaviour by modifying the source code (please look at readme in source repository for instructions).
Hexpress is without ads, free and open-source. Your feedback is much appreciated.