[caption id="attachment_26013" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Image courtesy of Flickr, kevin dooley"][/caption]The ability to play a photo like a musical instrument? Sounds like the ravings of a strung-out denizen of The Merry Pranksters' school bus, doesn't it? Not so much in this digital age if you have an iPhone and a dream.
Pixound is a trippy music app for iOS that allows users to turn any snap into a song. In default mode, the app features a color-blocked image that you can tap to evoke different sounds. That experience is pretty cool already -- reminiscent of that game "Simon" from the '80s -- but becomes even more compelling as you dig into the app, adding backing drum beats and a bouncing ball that moves through the picture, stimulating sound.
You can also choose to pull up a variety of musical instruments -- from guitars to synths to random sound effects -- to play within your snap, and more seasoned musicians can mess around with tempo, reverb, chorus etc to create more sophisticated jams.
There are tons of iterations within the app, which can make it kind of confusing for the casual user, but the experience of tapping colors to eek out sounds is simple enough to appeal to anyone who's into experimentation.
The coolest aspect of the app, however, is the ability to upload any image you like and turn that into a tune (you can determine whether you play colors by hue or RGB). I uploaded the below picture of my roommate's insanely photogenic dog, Jasper. Every color in the pic represents a different sound, and I was able to pick out an appropriately ebullient Jasper-spun jam with the app.
Pixound costs $0.99 in the app store -- which could give more frugal folk pause -- but it's worth all 99 pennies if you have a hankering to turn your pet snaps into a disco beat.