8 Awesome Music Apps for Everyone

With the iPad, the tools of music-making software have now been placed into the hands of anyone, regardless of knowledge or skill – all that is needed is an imagination and the will to create!

Carry on reading for 8 great examples of music-related iOS Apps that will encourage you to think about using your iPad to create music, no experience necessary…

Buddha Machine

Buddha Machine

Buddha Machine

The original Buddha Machine is a small plastic music player inspired by electronic prayer boxes said to be popular in areas of China, which play repeating loops of Buddhist chants as an aid to prayer. The idea proved very successful and saw the Buddha Machine championed by such influential sources as Pitchfork, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, even Brian Eno was rumoured to have purchased multiple versions.

This iPad version is basically the same as the real plastic player, but has the added benefit of being able to mix the sounds of six Buddha Machines at once, providing a soundtrack for everyday life. Though this may seem a little underwhelming in print, the Buddha Machine’s strength is in the quality of the ambient sounds on offer – it’s hypnotising and calming meditative audio loops are a useful aid to studies, exercising and falling asleep.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Developer: FM3 Productions LTD

Tonepad Pro

Tonepad Pro

Tonepad Pro

Tonepad Pro is a very simple music-making app which derives its inspiration from specialist (i.e. expensive) music hardware like Yamaha’s Tenori-On. The user is provided with a dark 16×16 grid which can be filled in with white circles at the touch of a finger. These circles denote a tuneful tone and, as an invisible pulse moves from left to right on the screen, Tonepad Pro will play the current pattern.

The app features the ability to save tracks and also export them as ringtones, which really suits the style of sounds offered by Tonepad Pro.

Price: $0.99
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Developer: LoftLab

Bloom

Bloom

Bloom HD

Bloom HD has been developed by legendary ambient music pioneer Brian Eno and sound artist/developer Peter Chilvers. The app is a mixture of sound design and interactive computer synthesis, able to create simple patterns with the tap of a finger, which are then translated into lush, beautiful tones.

When left idle, Bloom will produce its own generative synthesis and complementary visual effects. There are a few limitations to what can be achieved with Bloom HD, but this is owing to its simple design and ease of use rather than any inherent flaws.

Though Bloom HD is geared toward casual use by anybody, regardless of skill-set, there are a few settings to get stuck into and users can choose between “Classic”, “Infinite” and “Freestyle” modes for a deep and compelling user experience.

Price: $3.99
Requires: iPad (other iOS devices supported with non-HD version)
Developer: Opal Limited

RjDj

RjDj

RjDj

RjDj is a great example of the innovation typical to the iOS as a music platform. Arriving with 10 “Scenes”, RjDj works by taking ambient noises captured with the microphone which is part of the iPhone-style earbuds, and adds effects like reverb, delay and pitch-shifting.

Though admittedly some sounds work better than others, the principles behind RjDj are so novel and fun that any negatives are far outweighed by the interesting results which can be obtained. RjDj encourages us to find a different perspective on the daily humdrum sounds of life – it’s an interesting soundtrack indeed to even the most dull daily commute.

Price: Free
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone (iPhone-style earbuds required)
Developer: Reality Jockey Limited

Air

Air

Air

Yet another generative music App to come from Opal Limited, Air does bear some resemblance to Bloom, but it still remains different enough to warrant a separate purchase. Though apparently based on a concept by Brian Eno, this time the designer Peter Chilvers was assisted by Irish vocalist Sandra O’Neill.

When using Air the screen is taken up with a background comprising several concentric triangles. Each triangle has its own corresponding sound and the user conducts these with touch. It takes but a few moments to begin creating ambient textures and, perhaps even more so than Bloom, Air could conceivably be applied in a more typical instrument role, as well as a standalone music generator.

Air suffers slightly from a lack of features (such as an ability to record) but this is mitigated somewhat by the ability to sync with multiple iOS devices and speakers to deliver an iOS-based ensemble.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Developer: Opal Limited

Magic Piano

Magic Piano

Magic Piano HD

Sonic Mule are the developers behind many popular music-themed apps for iOS, such as Ocarina, Leaf Trombone, and I Am T-Pain. With Magic Piano HD, the team bring their own unique perspective to playing the piano on a touch screen device.

Magic Piano HD innovates further than any other piano-based app I’ve come across by giving the user much more to work with than just typical keys on a screen. With four keyboard options available, the UI is far more intuitive and will be particularly useful to the complete beginner, offering a traditional keyboard, a circular keyboard, a spiral keyboard, and one which illuminates beams of light.

Though a freestyle option is available, it is when playing Magic Piano HD’s “Songbook” that the app comes into its own. With 35 free songs available, it works almost like Guitar Hero, guiding the correct keys and timing. This is a really beautiful app that makes full use of the iPad’s increased screen space, surely one of the finest piano apps currently available.

Price: $2.99
Requires: iPad
Developer: Smule

Guitarist

Guitarist

Guitarist

Guitarist is something of a hybrid music app, in that it will appeal to both the experienced musician and complete novice. Moo Cow Music have done a great job here visually and, though it’s very playable on the iPod Touch and iPhone, Guitarist truly shines on the extra screen space available with the iPad.

Guitarist comes with four separate interfaces, offering varying levels of flexibility and ease of use. “Hammer-On” removes the need to pluck or strum strings, so that a tap of the fretboard suffices to produce sound. “Tab Guitar” does the opposite and presents the user with a choice of strings to strum, while “Scale Guitar” shows many different guitar scales available for play. However, it is “Manual Fret” which most closely resembles real guitar playing and, with the range of effects available, can produce very impressive results.

Price: $3.99
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Developer: MooCowMusic

Thicket

Thicket

Thicket

Thicket offers something a little different compared to most iOS music-making apps. Working along similar lines to Bloom and Air, it is also a generative music app, but here the similarities end.

Thicket features five different modes, some backed by a glitchy beat and others based on formless, ambient textures. These can be manipulated with touch and by tilting the iPad. The depth of the music on offer is astounding and it is very easy to lose an entire night to Thicket. Probably offering the most immersive experience out of all the apps here, Thicket has VGA-out support and, as the developer states, is a mixture between art piece, toy, wind chime, and spiderweb.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Developer: Interval Studios

Conclusion

Hopefully the 8 apps above will encourage you to think of your iPad as a creative device. Most of the above apps are so simple that even a child can use them, and a few are perfect for making the morning commute that much more interesting. Have you got any other favourite novice-friendly music apps? If so, please let us know about them in the comments.


  • Chris M

    Couple more great music apps I like:

    Synthtronica : http://synthtronica.com/

    Xenon Groove Synthesizer: http://iphone.icegear.net/xenon/

    • http://www.hammyhavoc.com Hammy Havoc

      I second that; Xenon is great!

  • ChrisM

    Synthtronica and Xenon Groove Synthesizer are not included her and they were at the top of my list. Granted, there are many great musical apps for the iPad. Good List!

    • http://adamawilliams.com Adam Williams

      Going to check out both of those, they look great!

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