Welcome to the fourth instalment in a 5-part series about free music iPad apps (following on from Part 1 – 19 Free iPad Apps for Musical Creativity, Part 2 – 14 Free Musical Instrument Apps and Part 3 – 7+ Free Apps for Discovering The Orchestra). This collection focuses on useful free music apps for your “toolkit” – functional apps that will help you keep in time, tune your instrument, measure audio levels, identify music on the radio, learn chords and write songs.
Don’t forget that because these apps area free, many have limited functionality or offer in-app purchases or upgraded versions to unlock extra features.
Timing and Pitch
1. Pro Metronome includes 7 different metronome tones and has dynamic accent settings. You can tap to calculate the BPM, and can keep it running in the background while using other apps. This free version is ad-free but offers an upgrade for extra features including flashing lights, colour mode, vibrate mode and subdivisions of the beat.
2. Free Chromatic Tuner. Does what it says on the box – listens to the note you play and provides feedback about your tuning accuracy.
Slow down and transpose music instantly
3. Anytune is my app of choice in this cateogory: slow down or speed up songs without changing pitch, change key without altering tempo, set up loops and add markers. This app shows the waveform of the song, making it easy to navigate. I’ve found it to be well worth the upgrade to the paid version.
4. Amazing Slow Downer Lite has similar functionality to Anytune – you can slow down or speed up music without changing pitch, change the key and set up loops. However, the free version only plays the first quarter of an audio file.
Annotate and manage sheet music
5. Chromatik allows you to store and annotate sheet music. You can record yourself practising and track your progress. Share recordings with students, teachers and friends privately and syncronise everything with the online Chromatik website so you have access to your library anywhere.
6. piaScore is a digital sheet music viewer that allows you to annotate your scores. Store your scores digitally so that you have access to them at all times. piaScore links with the IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project), so you can easily access and download more than 56,000 public domain works. Purchase more recent pieces through the store, or upload your own scanned copies.
7. MusicNotes Sheet Music Viewer was created by the people at Musicnotes.com as a way to access the sheet music you’ve bought on their website. You can upload your own scores as well and annotate them using the pen or highlighter tools.
The science of sound
8. Too Loud? is a free app that measures sound levels. Could be useful for checking sound levels for OH&S reasons (ie. by students studying stage management and production) or useful for letting students monitor their own sound levels in class.
9. JL Audio Tools – another sound measurement app.
10. Sound Uncovered is an interesting interactive book about sound that includes “auditory illusions, acoustic phenomena, and other things that go bump, beep, boom, and vroom.” The app was covered in a MacWorld Article in February 2013 and has recently been updated to include some new sections.
What’s that song?
11. Soundhound identifies songs by “listening” to recordings on radio, or from your own singing or humming (try it – it works!).
12. Shazam is similar to Soundhound and identifies songs by “listening” to recordings.
Note: to use any of the guitar-based apps mentioned below, you will need to purchase an guitar interface adaptor – such as IK Multimedia’s iRig which allows you to plug your guitar directly into your iPad.
13. Amplitube Free is one of the most popular guitar and bass multi-effects processor with an included digital audio workstation. It also features a built-in Loop Drummer so you can quickly create play-along drum tracks.
14. iShred LIVE is an amp simulator with effects which includes presets, a metronome and tuner and a looping function. Extra effects are available as in-app purchases.
15. Fender Free – guitar or bass multi effects processor and recording studio. Import songs from your iTunes library and slow them down for practice purposes. You can expand the effects options and other capabilities through in-app purchases.
16. Vocalive – real-time vocal effects and recording functions for singers. The reverb effect included free and you can unlock more effects by registering with the app-makers IK Multimedia. Includes Vocal Cancel feature to help remove existing vocals from songs in your iTunes library, a metronome and vocal warm-up tools.
Write Your Own Hit Song
17. Suggester suggests chord sequences based on a specific scale and is useful when building songs and arrangements. You can also save your favourite sequences. Some features are locked in the free version.
18. Circle Of Fun is a circle of 5ths teaching aid: listen to chord progressions and play along with them. Shows relative chords.
19. Songwriter’s Pad LE is a lyric-writing tool which helps songwriters by generating ideas for lyrics. You can generate single words or entire phrases based on emotion or rhyme. The app includes dictionary and thesaurus, and saves and organises your ideas. The free version is limited to 3 songs and is ad-supported.
20. ChordBot Lite is another song-writing tool, but this one also doubles as a “Band-in-a-Box” style auto accompaniment generator that allows you to create quick backing tracks on the fly. There’s a choice of 8 comping styles (50 styles in the paid version) but the free version does not allow saving. The full version also allows export as either MIDI or WAV format for transfer to other apps or desktop apps.
21. Chord Tutor Lite presents guitarists with a chord which they play back on your guitar. The app listens to the chord and scores it based on accuracy and speed. The lite version limited to 6 chords only.
22. Guitar Toolkit is a tuner, metronome and chord diagram reference library all in one. It includes 288 chords which can be played and sorted by both notes and key signature. When in key signature mode, you can see all the related chords within that key.
23. ChordBank: Guitar Chords Another reference app that includes thousands of chords in its library. This one also includes the Reverse Chord Finder which allows you to tap on the on-screen fretboard to identify an unknown chord.
24. Ukelele Companion includes a metronome, drum tracks, a tuner and chord diagrams – more than 1900. There are multiple options for each chord, scales, and playback of chords. Ads can be removed through an in-app purchase.
25. Ukelele Tabs lists chords for known songs. It also includes partial lyrics only – due to copyright reasons.
26. iUke – Ukelele Song Book displays lyrics and chord diagrams for known songs. It also provides backing tracks in which you can change the speed, transpose the key and mute tracks.
27. Bass Companion combines a number of tools: it has a tuner and a reference library of chord charts and scales.
I Got Rhythm
28. theDrumDictionaryFree app is a reference tool for drummers. It includes 40 snare drum rudiments and a sample of the full drum patterns that are included with the paid version. There are audio and notation versions of the rudiments and you can loop each pattern for practice purposes. The app also provides a useful reference for conductors, band leaders, arrangers and composers.
Other parts in this series
- Part 1 – 19 Free iPad Apps for Musical Creativity: Play, Improvise and Record
- Part 2 – 14 Free iPad Apps: Play A Musical Instrument
- Part 3 – 7+ Free Apps for Discovering The Orchestra
- Part 5 – 8 Free iPad Apps for Ear-Training and Literacy (coming soon)