More and more I find myself using my iPad for music related activities. Whether it is reading articles, studying theory, plugging my bass into it to practice, learning new songs, or recording and sharing music, as they say, “There’s and App for that”. Below are 10 apps that I currently use on a regular basis, with the omission of GarageBand as that it seems that it is such an essential music app that it has already been covered ad-nausea.
Tenuto is a great Music Theory learning app from the folks at MusicTheory.net. Tenuto features a set of 12 customizable exercises created to help you master key theory concepts, including Note, Key Signature & Chord identification, Keyboard-based exercises, Fretboard-based exercises, Ear Training exercises as well as specialized Calculators.
Music Theory Lessons, also from MusicTheory.net, is a collection of 39 music theory lessons from the musictheory.net site. The lessons start with the very basics of music theory and then build up to more complex topics. Along with Tenuto, this app has added a whole new dimension to my musical studies.
Songsterr Plus is a tab player, song learning app which features midi and notation as well as tab. Connected to the huge (80,000 song) catalog at Songsterr.com, the app provides support for a variety of instruments and features a “Realistic Guitar Engine”, which sounds better than your typical midi fare.
Guitar Pro is a song learning tool, similar to Songster, which allows you to add your own files. A Guitar or Bass Fretboard or Virtual Keyboard are also included at the bottom of the screen to further enhance the experience. Guitar Pro additionally allows you to transpose songs by Half-Tones and adjust the Tempo on the fly.
iReal b – Formally called “The iReal Book” this is app is just that, iReal B is the standard book of chord charts for a large variety of music. Features included a midi player, a tempo slider, and a basic mixer so you can bring your instrument up or down in the mix.
Ampkit is a free Amp Simulator featuring the Peavey ValveKing as its main amp. As with most amp simulator apps it is geared mostly towards guitarists but I was pleasantly surprised at the tone I could get out of the ValveKing when I ran my bass through it. As that my bass sounded good through the guitar amp I decided to buy the “American Bass King” bass amp sim via in-app purchase. The app includes a tuner, recording capabilities, a backing track to jam along to, as well as the ability to play along with songs in your music library.
PocketGK is essentially a GK amp on your iPad. I really want to love this app, especially since is it currently the only bass specific Amp Simulator out there, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I upgraded to the paid version hoping to find what I was looking for as that it gives you a bit more EQ control than the free version, but sadly I am not impressed. To me the sound is too aggressive, like playing through a guitar amp sim. My active basses sound overdriven, and there does not seem to be any way to attenuate this. Passive basses do better, but again, for my tastes the tone is a bit too aggressive. I keep going back to it, hoping to hit on tone nirvana, but I haven’t found it yet.
SoundCloud is a social media type sharing app that allows you to record yourself and share it with others on the SoundCloud.com site as well as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare. The app also allows you to discover music others have posted and comment on their music, just as they are free to comment on yours. Soundcloud seems like a pretty cool app especially when you discover that some of your favorite artists use it to post snippets of their up coming albums or just share tracks that they otherwise would not distribute.
Band of the Day is a cool new app I recently discovered that features a new artist or band every day. Artist Bio’s and reviews are provided along with a sampling of tracks plus videos. Most of the bands are ones I have not heard of, but that’s what makes it cool!
NPR Music has a newly released iPad app that brings together all of the great musical goodness that we have come to expect from NPR. All Songs Considered, World Cafe, First Listen and Song of the Day are all showcased here as well as access to live music streams from more than 100 public radio stations.