I first used the Experimental FM Synthesizer back in 2017 while searching the Google Play Store for music phone applications at that time: some of which have disappeared by late 2018, like Skrot and Sphere Tones. The version of Experimental FM Synthesizer that I recall trying consisted of a simple interface of a black screen. Moving my fingers across the screen would produce different Frequency Modulation tones that sounded close to either sine or pulse waves. Depending on the proximity of my fingers, the tones would change from clear, to scratchy. While I appreciated all of the sonic possibilities that Experimental FM Synthesizer had to offer, I remember uninstalling it because it omitted important features, like the ability to record directly from the app.
A few weeks ago, I went back to the Google Play Store and re-installed Experimental FM Synthesizer expecting to encounter the same format from last year. I could not have been more incorrect, albeit in a good way. The developers at Noob Programmer, a company known for the Finger Synth app and smartphone wallpapers, have complete redesigned the visual presentation of Experimental FM Synthesizer add have added a "Settings" section. They have replaced the black screen with an orange and blue one, Touch the blue part of the screen produces both tones and visual circles that can change direction depending on the movement of the fingers. The first tone (the first finger that touches the blue area of the screen) is represented in bluish-orange. Placing more fingers on the screen (represented as bluish-white circles) not only enables people to create harmonies. It also produces lines that connect to the first tone. These lines can expand or contract depending on how far or close people have their fingers on the screen.
The "Settings" of Experimental FM Synthesizer contains features that electronic or electroacoustic composers should know based on their professional experience. People can adjust the type of "Link" ("Independent" or "Chained"), "Carrier Frequencies" (for the top and bottom of the screen), "Modulator Frequency," Modulator Amplitude," and "Latency." Tapping this last part also allows people to adjust the sound quality and bit-depth. Bearing all of this in mind, one should not think that Noob Programmers created Experimental FM Synthesizer solely for electronic music composers. According to their description on Google Play, they designed the app for people wanting to make weird sounds and music. It is app designed primarily for novices who want to create electronic music without getting overwhelmed by technical jargon.
That supposed necessity to avoid getting into complicated musical territory is one of the minor complaints that I have about Experimental FM Synthesizer. Besides the fact that it still does not include recording capabilities, nor developer contact information, Noob Programmers should include a short tutorial and history about the basics of Frequency Modulation Synthesis: from its discovery and application by American composer John Chowning (b. 1934), to its frequent use in video games from the 1980s and 90s. As it currently stands, the updated version of Experimental FM Synthesizer is a fun and interesting app to use, albeit one that does not explain how or why FM Synthesis works.
Experimental FM Synthesizer is available for free on Google Play.
DMA. Composer of acoustic and electronic music. Pianist. Experimental film.