As a working musician, I am quickly realizing how important it is to use technology to stay relevant. So many songwriters are using electronic samples and sounds that are vital to the song. For a drummer, this may mean using a sample pad to replicate different sounds. For a keyboardist, it may mean building synth patches or sampling various sounds. Or, it could be running a computer with Ableton or another Digital Audio Workstation(DAW). With the advancement of technology the ability to do so many things in the palm of your hand, and the start of a new year, I have comprised a list of my top 3 music apps of 2015.
1. Frozen Ape – Tempo $2.99
This is hands down the app I use most frequently. I use this almost every day for teaching and gigging. This metronome app has the ability to set tempos which are easily adjustable for teaching purposes. You can set multiple subdivisions (quarters, eighths, triplets, sixteenths, swung triplets, and swung sixteenths) to fit any need. However, my favorite feature on this app is the “gig” mode. On this setting you can save all of your song titles, tempos, and subdivisions then simply press the arrow key to move through your set list. You can have multiple set lists for those playing with multiple bands. To customize this app you can change the sound of the click with the 15 included samples, change the display, and change accent. This is the app I have all of my students download after their first lesson.
2. Garage Band – $4.99
Are you a songwriter who wants to explore getting your songs recorded? This is the app for you. It is an easy to use music recording app. I’ve used this app from recording quick song ideas in the car all the way to recording live mixes from gigs. Guitarists can use this with a mini recording pod and track what they are playing. Vocalist’s can sing right into the mic on the phone. If you play piano, you can use the built in keyboard and play with your fingers or you can get an adapter and plug in an electric keyboard. This is also an extremely useful practice tool, as you can record a practice session and listen back to what your playing. The recording will point out your flaws and other areas of improvement. It’s like having your music teacher with you all the time! Plus it’s pretty cool that you can show your friends a song that you wrote and recorded.
3. Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) – $14.99
I first found this amazing program on the computer and then discovered the app. One of the first things I tell my students is start something slow and work to speed it up. I have found this helps my students learn rhythms faster and helps them to play at any tempo. With this app, you are able to import a song, slow down the tempo and loop sections without losing audio quality. If you are working through a song that is too fast or struggling to hear a specific guitar line or drum fill, then you need this app. There are cheaper, even free, versions of this app, but I have found the price is worth it.