How to make instant music using Figure

Our guide to Figure, a minor miracle of modern music making

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  • Figure Main Intro
  • Figure1 Step 1: On your marks
  • Figure2 Step 2: Auditioning instruments
  • Figure3 Step 3: Make a recording
  • Figure4 Step 4: Instrument settings
  • Figure5 Step 5: Tweaking sounds
  • Figure6 Step 6: Mixing the tune
  • More stories
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Intro

Figure is a minor miracle of modern music making. For just 69p, you get a selection of top-class sounds from Propellerhead’s Thor synthesiser and the Kong drum machine; that’s 13 drum kits, 32 bass sounds and 46 synths, which can be tweaked in all manner of interesting ways.

Here, we’ll explain how to put together a simple loop to play back on your iOS device, but Figure also lets you extend loops from the default two bars to eight. You can change the key, transpose notes around related major, minor and dominant keys, share finished tunes via iTunes, or use Sonoma’s AudioCopy to drop them into other compatible apps on the same device, such as FourTrack (£2.99). 

We can only scratch the surface of what this remarkable little app is capable of, but this tutorial will help get you started.

Vital Info

Device: iPhone or iPad

Difficulty: Beginner

Time required: 5 mins

What you need: 

Figure (69p, itun.es/i6Jk5GP)

iOS 5.0 or later

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Next Prev Figure Main

Figure is a minor miracle of modern music making. For just 69p, you get a selection of top-class sounds from Propellerhead’s Thor synthesiser and the Kong drum machine; that’s 13 drum kits, 32 bass sounds and 46 synths, which can be tweaked in all manner of interesting ways.

Here, we’ll explain how to put together a simple loop to play back on your iOS device, but Figure also lets you extend loops from the default two bars to eight. You can change the key, transpose notes around related major, minor and dominant keys, share finished tunes via iTunes, or use Sonoma’s AudioCopy to drop them into other compatible apps on the same device, such as FourTrack (£2.99). 

We can only scratch the surface of what this remarkable little app is capable of, but this tutorial will help get you started.

Vital Info

Device: iPhone or iPad

Difficulty: Beginner

Time required: 5 mins

What you need: 

Figure (69p, itun.es/i6Jk5GP)

iOS 5.0 or later

 

Step 2 of 7: Step 1: On your marks

First, download and install Figure on your iOS device, then tap the icon to begin. Make sure the System tab in the bottom right-hand corner is selected, then tap New. The app will suggest a name for the tune – either accept it or use the keyboard to replace it with a title of your own. Now you’re all set to start creating your loop.

 

Step 3 of 7: Step 2: Auditioning instruments

Tap the Pattern tab at the bottom of the screen and when that loads, tap the Drum tab at the top. Figure selects a drum kit for you – test it by tapping any of the four blue bars. If you don’t like it, swipe the name left or right to try out some others. All Figure’s instruments can be auditioned in the same way.

 

Step 4 of 7: Step 3: Make a recording

Tap Record and then tap and hold a finger on the Kick drum. Keep the finger down until Figure ‘locks’ on to the beat, then take it off. Add the snare, hi-hat and cymbals in turn. Try dragging the finger left and right to hear different drum intonations – this applies to all the app’s instruments. Press Record again to stop.

 

Step 5 of 7: Step 4: Instrument settings

Leave the groove running and tap the Bass tab. Swipe left or right to select an instrument and record a riff. If you make a mistake, tap Erase Mode to clear individual notes or the whole recording. Tap Erase again when you’ve finished. Next, tap and slide up or down on the Rhythm, Range and Scale Steps controls.

 

Step 6 of 7: Step 5: Tweaking sounds

Record the lead part in the same way and then press Record again to stop. The tune will continue playing. Tap the Tweaks tab at the bottom of the screen. Experiment with the different filters by tapping one and then moving the corresponding circle in the rectangle below, left, right, up or down. 

 

Step 7 of 7: Step 6: Mixing the tune

Tap the Mix tab. Each instrument has its own channel. Tap mute at the bottom to temporarily stop a track playing back, or drag a slider up or down with your finger to alter the volume relative to the other tracks. Tap and drag the Pump setting up and down to increase the impact of your composition. 

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