October 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

This Week In Music Apps: Makers’ Edition

After a summer hiatus from This Week In Music Apps, I’m back with a fresh batch to combat dropping temperatures. I’ll be spending more time inside, as the weather begins to chill, and I’m not the only one, in the northern hemisphere at least.

As a cure for the winter blues, I’ve rounded up some music-making apps to keep you busy and get your creative juices flowing again. In the next installment, we’ll return our focus to music enjoyment, but for now, let’s look at some new, notable apps for crafting sounds of your own.

First, our latest reviews:

  • Music Control: Play iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio from One Mac App
  • Rara Launches Multiplatform Music with No Free Tier
  • SoundTracking, Apple’s Favorite Music App, Integrates with Spotify and Instagram
  • Buzzam Radio Delivers Music, News, Twitter and Facebook in Slick Audio App
  • Sound Collection: iOS Music Organizer for Neat Freaks (with Rdio/Spotify)
  • Concert Window: Live Music in Your Home
  • Media From the Future: ‘The Voice’ Gets Its Own App
  • 12 Reasons Microsoft’s Spotify Competitor, Xbox Music, Might Not Be Doomed
  • Eno and Chilvers Come Through Again with Deep, Immersive Scape App
  • Lis10er Augments Aural Reality for Four Bucks
  • Patronism Makes Us Want to Believe in Fan Club Music Funding
  • iTrack Solo Brings High-Quality Music Recording to the iPad

Apple iOS

Mesa Sequencer (free)

Mesa Sequencer

The app presents a grid with 16 squares, each of which represents a 16th note. The loop begins at the top right and travels down, square by square. Underneath this, sliders for pitch, duration and modulation give you more control over aspects of the synthesizer. Flicking through and exploring the photo of the desert background changes the background loop music. This is a well-designed app.

Oscillators (free)

Three customizable components to this minimalist music maker include a customizable grid (in which you can erase squares to alter the space); sound blocks; and little boxed guys (“Oscillators”) who travel around the grid at a constant pace. When the Oscillators pass through a sound block, their sound plays in a different way, depending on the color of the Oscillator. You can alter the direction the Oscillator turns when it arrives at an obstacle. After a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create melodies, which you can save.

Loopy Beats (free)

This simple app lets you create loops by choosing premade sound combinations. You can mute a sound by tapping its name, which is nice, but there’s no pause function, which is not as nice. I also felt forced to utilize the entire looping space, because you are unable to change the duration of the loop. It’s a fun app to play with, but not for anyone looking for a serious looping app.

Google Android

Rad.io ($1 or free)

This app is pretty well-designed for an Android app (ouch). It lets you search for radio stations by genre, check out the top 100 stations (which are strangely listed in alphabetical order rather than chronological) or find local stations. You can save your favorites so you can easily access them next time, as well as see your listening history. With stations like London’s Capital.fm, Seattle’s KEXP and a radio station devoted to the Beatles all in one place, this app is a great substitute for all the individual radio apps. If you want to avoid the ad banner at the top, don’t get the free version.

Web Apps

Lystener (free)

Like other lyrics sites, this one helps you find lyrics to just about any song. However, it also lets you connect to your Last.fm, Like.fm or Libre.fm profile, making it much, much cooler.

This lets Lystener pull up the lyrics for your currently-playing song, as well as list links for the lyrics of songs you’ve listened to recently. Another neat feature: highlight the lyrics for options to share them on Facebook or Twitter. The site also incorporates visual aspects of the song: album art and a YouTube video.

Guitaryst (free)

From the same developer, Kilian Valkhof, Guitaryst is the tab version of Lystener. Once again, you can enter your username for Last.fm, Like.fm or Libre.fm and Guitaryst will find tabs, chords, or bass for the currently-playing song. It scrolls through them automatically as the song plays, to facilitate learning (although this can be inaccurate, and it seems like the scrolling is not necessarily in line with the song). Many of these “guitar tabs” include lyrics as well. For those who haven’t yet mastered their chords, hovering your mouse over the chord and displays their fingerings.