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smule magic fiddleMusic startup Smule continues to follow an unpredictable path in its release of iPhone and iPad music apps. Its latest, the Magic Fiddle (iTunes link), seems to be the most “serious” and genuinely musical.

As the name implies, the Magic Fiddle transplants the fiddle onto the iPad. No previous musical skills are required. The app allows users to play along with songs using the Songbook and to develop their skills by following along with an 8-chapter storybook. And like any Smule app, there’s a social feature, where you can share your performances with other users.

Professional musicians can apparently get some use of it too — specifically, you can see the Lawrence String Quartet playing in the video below (which I particularly like because it doesn’t look like they’ve completely mastered the app).

Smule’s apps seem to fall into two main camps. In the one camp you have the company’s first big hit, Ocarina, which was based on a real-world instrument, and its first iPad-only app was the Magic Piano. In the other camp, you have licensed apps that aim more at novelty, including a singing app that tied into the Glee TV show and a Auto-tuning app in partnership with rapper T-Pain.

The Magic Fiddle seems to fall into the former category. Asked how the Magic Fiddle builds on previous Smule apps, co-founder and chief technology officer Ge Wang responded:

We think this is probably the most expressive game instrument thingymabob that we’ve ever built. Like Ocarina, this is an app designed to be visual as well as aural. We think Magic Fiddle really encourages people to experience the nostalgia of learning the violin in a fun way. To this end, the StoryBook is something we’ve never done before, which is a fun, interactive step-by-step learning tool to teach anyone how to play the Magic Fiddle. Through the StoryBook, we’ve built an instrument with a “voice” that teaches you how to play it. We call it the Smule Method of learning the fiddle / violin.

Smule has raised a total of $13.7 million in venture funding. The app costs $2.99.


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