Robo Maestro is a unique way to make creating music easier, with no need for music theory or any kit to get started. It is a programme that I initially downloaded thinking it was going to be a throwaway novelty but underneath its hood is a deceptively powerful tool that I think could be useful for many starter musicians or even established musicians looking for some random seeded chaos for their music. Best of all? It is free to download.
Joost’s Robo Maestro has two distinct modes. The first is Maestro mode is the best place to start for beginners. Here your robo friend twiddles its fingers like its playing a piano and a randomly generated 4 beats per bar melody will play. It is a MIDI driven sound so it sounds fittingly retro and a little clunky perhaps depending on what’s started but something will begin. Every 4 bars of music you’ll get to pick from a few circles that pop out from the centre of the screen to change the music up. These could be adding or removing layers of sound, changing tempo or pitch, putting in dramatic keyboard, guitar or drum solos or hitting a randomiser button to see what else you’ll get. It’s simple and risk free as the game is pulling from thousands of random seeds and then running the melodies through a set of chord progressions – again seeded – to make everything sound tuneful. It’s a really simple way to create music and not need to know anything about it.
It’s the loop editor mode where Robo Maestro shined for me though as this gives you access to much more nuanced customisation. Here you can choose from seeded melodies, add and remove your own layers and MIDI instruments for those melodies and crucially replicate the same thing twice. You can bring in chord progressions to suit, shift the tempo or octave and muck about with the time signature of what you’ve put together. What sounds good in 4/4 may sound genius in 7/4 and Robo Maestro just adjusts fluidly making everything feel fantastic. With each loop you create, you can then save them and bring them into the song editor and build a full composition by stringing loops together. Suddenly you’ve gone from random tweaking to building an intention piece of music in under half an hour.
I cannot over emphasis how you do not need to know anything about music to create something listenable with Robo Maestro. It is extremely approachable and you can make things as complex as you want to. Fancy a simple piano piece? Done. Want a 16 layer chiptune anthem? Sorted! A few button clicks and you’ll have something to work with. I use digital audio workstations for creating music already and even I found Robo Maestro interesting to use. This is because you can export files in WAV or MIDI files that you can then import into your workstations and then switch them out for something else. I had a complex four layered drum track – exported into my audio kit and dropped the MIDI file into a tabla sample and suddenly had an Indian percussion army. It sparked new ideas and creativity and I think that’s where established musicians can get something out of the programme.
I was genuinely surprised at what Robo Maestro could do and how powerful it is. If you would like to dabble with music creation but have no musical ability – this crafty toy will have you covered. A lovely early surprise in 2023. It’s out now on Steam.
Robo Maestro takes the heavy lifting out of music creation for beginners whilst offering a spark of new ideas for established artists working with MIDI.
Maestro mode is the easiest, most tactile way I've seen playing with sound since Bjork's Biophilia app.
Loop and song editor modes have an mineshaft of depth to dig into to make real songs if you want to.
Potentially limitless combinations of procedurally generated melodies to mash together and play with.
Export ability makes this a random chaos idea generator for established musicians.
Maestro mode is great for beginners but if that's all you play to do with it, you may tire of the same prompts quickly.
Over 60 instruments sounds great to begin with but as they cover lots of genres, they do get spread a little thinly at times.
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