MANILA, Philippines – Gone are the days when all aspiring beatboxers had to open their mouth to create a song. Now, even without the singing prowess, an amateur can produce hip tunes at the click of a button.
A fast-rising application called Incredibox does exactly that, helping a variety of users ranging from seasoned DJs and recording artists to online denizens simply looking for a way to pass the time.
With an easy-to-use interface, Incredibox allows users to drag and drop different symbols representing different sounds onto the beatboxer avatars. Once a sound is chosen for a beatboxer, another character pops up, waiting for a new sound to be added.
French swagger meets online gaming
Incredibox was a collaboration of Incredible Polo, a 1-man band from Nancy, Lorraine in France, and the French design studio, So Far So Good.
The app was created to feature the different songs of Incredible Polo, whose bandcamp.com page says that his genre encompasses beatbox, alternative, hiphop, folk, rock, and soul.
Although he has been a member of Myspace since Jan 19, 2007, Incredible Polo only has 3 songs up for listening: “Malimo,” “You Tell Me the Right Thing,” and “War is Over.”
These songs have then been cut up into individual sound bites that include hums, lyrics, and tongue-clicking, among many others. The symbols are then split into the categories of effects, beats, melodies, chorus, and voices.
Incredibox, though, is no ordinary music mixer. The application is, in reality, a simple game, requiring the players to unlock the right combination of beats to get to the next level. But unlike other online games, the players do not have any chance to fail.
One can never create a messed-up song regardless of whether the players know a single thing about tempo. The beatboxers’ sounds load at perfect timing and harmonize with the rest of the beatboxers that have lined up before them.
After completing each level, players even get to unlock bonus music videos featuring Incredible Polo’s music.
Players can also record their own mixes or click the shuffle mode to listen to random combinations.
The trick to going viral
The use of interactive apps is indeed one novel way for musicians to advertise their songs in today’s competitive music industry. Other notable pioneers would be The Ugly Dance by the Swedish band Fulkultur and Contrapunctus Variations by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble.
And so to designing these musicians have turned. The first version of the game had been up on their website, incredibox.fr, since 2009.
Although majority of its fans have naturally been French listeners, Incredibox also easily gained a following worldwide with its fun approach. Even Incredible Polo’s quirky posts on Facebook are now in multiple languages to cater to the game’s wide fanbase.
The beta of version 2 was also exhibited at the Design Map exhibition at the Cité du Design, Saint-Étienne, France, from Oct 20, 2011 to March 18, 2012. Cité du Design is an institution aiming to bring together promising designers and professionals in the field of design; this was how So Far So Good studio managed to increase the mileage of Incredible Polo and his music.
The beta testers appeared to enjoy the beats featured in the game and found the drag-and-drop method easy to manipulate. Incredibox Version 2 was released on March 2, 2012.
But beyond web design and exhibits, the power of social media became a key player in the sudden rise of its popularity, with a sharp increase occurring only this month. This could be credited to 9GAG.com and the posts that sprung there in April regarding Incredibox.
Because of the influx of 9gaggers on the Incredibox site, the visit count reached an all-time high: 600,000 users were online on April 13.
Soon after, their server crashed, seeing as a site running Flash requires a larger bandwidth. Below are some comments by 9GAG and Facebook fans:
The Incredibox craze has even reached Philippine shores.
The message, “Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access/on this server” was posted for almost 6 days. But just recently, Incredibox’s webmasters finally fixed the problems, and fans have not delayed in posting their exclamations of joy on Facebook.
The site is now up and running again.
According to them, “The site received the recognition of an FWA (Favorite Website Awards), upon its release in August 2009.” Since then, 22,000 blogs have listed Incredibox and 10 million people have visited the site.
But the future still seems bright for Incredibox and users don’t seem to be running out of ideas for new venues to explore. – Rappler.com
Incredible Polo is now signed under LZO Records, with an upcoming album entitled “Abissama.”