When smartphones and tablets first started to dominate headlines, many commented that this would herald a new era of music creation and collaboration. Back in 2010, Blur and Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn wrote and recorded an entire album using his iPad – three years on and the list of intuitive, beautifully designed apps is growing by the day! The only problem is that with over 700,000 apps to choose from, the selection is baffling.
Here’s my pick of the must-have apps for musicians.
1. OnSong (£5.49, iPad/iPhone)
I remember days when I used to have to cart around A4 files full of lyrics and settings for my keyboard. No more. Thanks to OnSong, I nowhave all my sheet music, lyrics and settings to hand on my iPad wherever I go.
Top features: hands-free scrolling, foot-pedal navigation and screen sharing via Bluetooth.
2. GuitarTapp (£1.99 iPad/iPhone)
Let’s face it, most people get into playing their instrument of choice in order to learn how to play their favourite songs. When I started-out, I used to have to work out chord sequences by myself – a frustrating experience when all you ever want to do is play the song. GuitarTapp contains a collection of over 500,000 guitar tabs, chords, bass and drum tabs. You can search and save your favourite songs and build setlists – ideal for cover bands.
Top features: Autoscroll, transpose, on-board chord dictionary.
3. Jamn (£0.69 iPhone)
Jamn lays out musical chords, keys and scales in an intuitive scroll wheel so that you can quickly see the relationship between them. Brilliant for songwriters wanting to quickly get chord sequences down!
Top features: Transpose, guitar finger guide, music theory guide.
4. GarageBand (£2.99 iPad/iPhone)
Apple’s fully-fledged app for Macs is a great entry-point for musicians wanting to record and share music. The iOS equivalent really shines on iPad, allowing you play guitars, keyboards, pianos, strings and drums live, recording as you go. You can record your voice and apply effects straight from the app, and even use the built-in sampler to record any noise and play it back using the virtual keyboard. When finished, you can master your track in the app, or export to Mac as a project and continue adding/editing until you’re happy. An absolute creative essential for any level of musician.
Top features: Smart Instruments, wi-fi jam sessions, sampler.
5. Discovr Music (£1.49, iPad/iPhone)
Discovering new artists and songs is one of the best things about being a music fan. Sometimes the traditional routes are best, but when you need a little inspiration – Discovr Music allows you to build an interactive map of artists that you might not have heard before, and then browse their songs/bio. Just enter an artist you like and the app will start by building a ‘web’ of similar artists to help you find new music.
Top features: Spiderweb design, artist bios/tweets, buy music from within the app.
Add a note in the comments below if you’ve got a favourite music-flavoured app that you’d like to share!