Designed to suit a range of skills, abilities, and interests, today’s music-oriented apps are proving themselves to be highly useful and versatile tools for musicians of all levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals. Whether you need extra support with writing, recording, practicing, performing, or all of the above, the following apps can help you take your music-making to the next level.
Probably the best-known app for musicians, the recording app GarageBand is a terrific resource for bands and songwriters. GarageBand makes it easy to lay down multi-track demos using either real instruments or the app’s built-in, programmable instruments (piano, guitar, drums, and more). Before exporting the recorded track, you can add a huge range of effects and polish your work with professional mixing techniques. This app is an absolute must-have for music makers who do any kind of recording.
Billing itself as “your personal music teacher” for piano, guitar, bass, or ukulele, Yousician can help everyone become a better musician. The app features hundreds of song-based exercises that guide you through fundamental techniques for your chosen instrument. As you play, the app “listens” through your iPhone’s microphone and offers real-time feedback on your performance. This unique feature is an invaluable resource for musicians of all levels.
Tempo calls itself the most accurate metronome available through the App Store. Judging by the favorable user reviews, the claim seems to be justified. To keep your playing on a consistent, steady beat, Tempo offers a choice of 35 different time signatures, in addition to three rhythm patterns for compound meters and six for simple meters. To easily access the modes you use most often, Tempo also lets you save presets for quick reference.
Why print endless pages of sheet music when you can use forScore as your digital sheet music library? This highly convenient app lets you store all the sheet music you need in easily accessible PDF format. A simple swipe turns the page, and you can create multiple set lists in the app to arrange music for different songs in the exact order you need. Best of all, forScore stores your sheet music in the app rather than in the cloud, so you don’t need to have an Internet connection to access all your music.
If you’re a composer or songwriter, you’ll know how easy it is to get stuck in a creative rut. For those times when you’re not coming up with any melodies that sound right, Musyc is there to help you shake things up. The basic purpose of the app is to use your touchscreen to create music—as you draw shapes on the screen, your touch is transformed into musical sounds. Innovative graphic design lets you “see” your composition bouncing around the display. This neat little app lets you play around while coming up with new musical ideas in the process.
With BackTrax, solo musicians will never have to be alone onstage again. This handy app lets you play backing tracks of a huge range of popular songs right from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Its many features include a lyric prompt for those times when you can’t quite remember the next verse, a progress bar and countdown timer so you know exactly when the song will finish, a playlist creation option if you’re playing a longer set, and an automatic pause function between songs.
Guitar players and songwriters will love GuitarToolkit, an excellent all-in-one support app that offers a tuner, a metronome, and chord and scale functions. With the app’s chord sheets, it’s easy to create and save chord progressions, and you can even create and add accompanying drum patterns to hear what your song will sound like with percussion. Best of all, the app supports a wide range of guitars, including six-, seven-, and 12-string, as well as banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and four-, five-, and six-string bass.
Another excellent guitar app, GuitarTuna doesn’t have the multi-functionality of GuitarToolkit, but it is extremely good at the task it focuses on: helping you tune your guitar. The app is compatible with just about any string instrument, from balalaika to sitar, and offers more than 100 tunings. In addition, GuitarTuna offers a variety of helpful features like background noise cancellation (very useful if you’re trying to tune your instrument in a noisy area like a bar).
When writer’s block strikes, songwriters and composers turn to Songwriter’s Pad, an app that helps to organize the songwriting process and give you a creative nudge when you need one. You can record and store samples of a song you’re working on, and use the emotion-based word and phrase generator to find and explore new ideas. If you need help getting your lyrics just right, the app also features a handy rhyming dictionary.