Smule, the makers of popular musical iPhone application, Ocarina, has just released a new music application today that pushes its social music experiment even further. Leaf Trombone (99 cents) lets you "play" your iPhone like a trombone by sliding your finger on the touch screen to create different notes and you can even play with a musicbox-like accompaniment.
After you launch Leaf Trombone, you can practice on your own to the tune of several user-uploaded old standbys like Auld Lang Syne, Yesterday, and even Happy Birthday. To help you follow the notes, leaves gently blow across the screen to land on the notes you should play (sort of like Guitar Hero). There also are buttons for raising or lowering your notes one octave so you have more range to play with. To accompany your trombone sound, Leaf Trombone has a wheel on the left side of the interface that performs on its own and sounds like an old-timey music box (no crank required).
What makes Leaf Trombone especially interesting, though, is the capability to take your talents online. By choosing the World Stage mode, you can either perform a song to be judged by other random Leaf Trombone users or you can judge songs being played by others. As the musician, you get to play your song before it goes live which lets you redo your song if it wasn't up to your standards. As a judge, you are represented by a smiley face and grouped with two other judges. When the song starts, you can listen to the song, adjust facial expressions for your smiley face, make comments while the song plays, and eventually rate the performance on a scale between 1 and 10. You also can observe the whole play/judge process without being involved if you just want to see how it works. If you receive a high enough score, your name might make it into the most popular list. On the other hand, if you miss your notes, you might end up on the "Debaucles" list (fortunately, we haven't stunk it up quite that bad...yet).
Ocarina was one of the first music applications of its kind to grab iPhone and iPod users' attention with Smule's unique method of making music by blowing into the iPhone's microphone while you press buttons on the touch screen. We think Leaf Trombone will appeal to a variety of users because it offers the same tactile pick-up-and-play capabilities of its predecessor. But with the added capability to perform for and be judged by users around the world, Leaf Trombone is almost a surefire hit at the iTunes App Store.