The best apps for creating music
The mobile GarageBand isn’t so different from its desktop brethren. You can play and loop a variety of instruments, from cello and acoustic guitar to drums and synths, using your iPhone’s touchscreen display. You can even tweak the tempo, key, time signature, and chords in the process. Unfortunately for Android aficionados, it’s iOS only, so check out something else if you’re stuck in Google’s ecosystem.
FL Studio Mobile ($14+)
Looking for a GarageBand alternative? FL Studio Mobile is a very advanced audio-editing app that offers synthesizers, drum kits, loop beats, and more. It comes with a bunch of effects, and you can expect to find limiters, parametric equalizers, a chorus tool, and MIDI controller support. It syncs your projects between devices as well, so you can start a track on the iPad at home, and make tweaks to it on your Galaxy smartphone while waiting for the bus.
Definitely one for the kids, Loopimal creates music loops by representing each individual part of the track as a different animal or shape. Essentially a musical sandbox for the kids, it’s nevertheless a pretty powerful music-making tool, and it’s one that might help spark an interest in music creation that could last a lifetime. It’s one for the kids, but don’t think it’s just child’s play because of that.
Featuring a realistic physics engine and Jonas Eriksson’s attractive graphics, Musyc’s foundation is based solely on drawn shapes and their interactions. There are also two effects channels, as well as a coupled track mixer that builds upon the app’s 88 instruments. More of a game than a full-fledged music creation suite, it’s nonetheless a great way to create some tunes.
DJ Studio 5 (free)
Turntables that fit in your pocket are difficult to come by. With DJ Studio 5, you can mix, remix, scratch, loop, pitch, and record any of your music files by using the two virtual turntables. When you’re finished putting your masterpiece together, you can even save and post the final mixes to SoundCloud, or share them on Facebook.
Ultimate Guitar Tabs (free)
You don’t need to be able to read sheet music in order to play the guitar. Ultimate Guitar Tabs touts interactive lessons and a robust catalog of more than 800,000 ukulele and guitar tabs, which allow you to view chord diagrams and the placement of various notes on the fretboard at a glance. While the app itself is free, you’ll need to pay to access to certain features, but it comes with a bunch of stuff that makes learning the guitar a whole lot easier.
Three-ring binders can get heavy, so why not transport all your music in your much lighter phone or tablet? ForScore is tailor-made for stowing your sheet music on the go. The app allows you to edit and annotate your music while providing you with options for tagging, sharing, and displaying your music alongside the accompanying audio track. It used to be that ForScore on phone and tablet were supported by different apps, but that’s no longer the case. Unfortunately, that does mean it’s more expensive than it used to be, but it does mean a united experience across iPad and iPhone, and Apple Pencil support too.