It’s cool to play instruments — and even cooler to know how to play them, to an extent. We’re not talking about becoming the the next over-shredding Joe Satriani, but a little proficiency goes a long way when trying to express a musical vision, whether as a hobby or something more serious. (Ed. note: Watch the author shred with Lil Jon above.)
Music teaching apps consistently rank high in the app stores. Tuners, metronomes, digital songbooks, reference guides, and more benefit everybody with a smartphone or tablet, from the dorm room dabbler to the gigging professional.
Electronic musicians have been riding the digital wave for some time, but even the open-minded coffee shop crooner can benefit from technology designed to sharpen skills and bring new life to practice routines.
Designed by musicians with ease and simplicity in mind, Metronome Plus is the cleanest, smoothest-operating metronome app we’ve seen for iOS. Simple to use and brilliantly packaged, with no extraneous features or small buttons to fumble over, this app is dead accurate when it counts with user-customizable accents, meters, subdivisions and sounds.
Offering an unparalleled degree of precision in a software tuner, the Peterson iStrobosoft is a mobile equivalent to the long line of respected Peterson hardware tuners. This top-choice tuner can be calbirated to within 1/10th of a cent (one thousandth of a semitone), and comes with built-in input boost and noise cancelation technology to ensure that you’re always tuning to the note that you want to be.
Amazing Slow Downer offers users the ability to slow tracks to up to 1/4 of their original tempo without altering pitch or clarity, making it the perfect practice tool for transcribing and playing along with your favorite songs. Features including an adjustable looping function (with save option), easy transposition, and pan controls make this app worth the price.
ChordBank is a comprehensive chord index featuring over 2100 chords in over 20 common qualities. The app’s strengths are its clean interface, fret position selector and playback options (did we mention it’s free?).
The yin to the Chordbank yang, Reverse Chord Finder Pro bridges the gap between fretboard and lead sheet. This inverse chord index offers the option to input notes on the staff, keyboard, or fretboard, allowing users to program chords for up to 12 strings at a time to accommodate a wide variety of fretted instruments. Reverse chord pro also gives three possible chord names for a given fingering and plays back the selection in either block chord or arpeggiated form.
Rebranded for copyright reasons, this is the app formerly known as iReal Book. A ‘fake book’ app that offers an easy way to create, export, print, and share chord sheets to popular songs as well as play them back with a mock three piece accompaniment in a number of available styles. The app comes with fifty chop-building exercises with additional chord sheets easily downloadable. iReal b also offers in-app purchase of additional comping styles to bolster the included three. The app is compatible with iRig and other 1/4″ connectors for easy jam-along with other benefits including in-song transposition to any key, global transposition to concert keys Eb, Bb, F, G and number system notation, tempo control, and looping functions to aid in practice.
What list of music education tools would be complete without the circle of fifths? Circle of Fifths packages this essential musician’s reference tool into an interactive chart that can help musicians of all levels to better understand the fundamentals of Western Music Theory.