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Music Apps for the Portable Musician

Music Apps for the Portable Musician

I often joke with my friend about how easy musicians have it today. Back in the late 80s and early 90s everything was harder. Making flyers for your show involved creating it by hand and then going to Kinko’s to make hundreds of copies of it. Every now and then you would splurge and pay extra for colored paper. Only very special gigs were worth the bucks to make full color copies of your artwork. And then you only made a few to put up in special spots. Promoting yourself involved getting out there and flyering cars, handing out flyers, going to other shows and being part of the scene. Public News (awesome former underground Houston newspaper) was our Facebook back then!

Now here’s where I get jealous… Today anyone can make quality recordings of their songs for next to nothing. Recording back in the day was expensive. Studio time was something that only bands with money got to do. Most of us were sticking up a couple of mikes in the practice space and hitting record. Yeah there were 4-tracks. We went through a couple. We made some cool songs too. But these days, anyone can make high-end quality recordings using an endless supply of digital effects and instruments. We also made cassette demos manually to sell or give away. Heck, CDs will still relatively new and no one really had a computer. Even if we did, there were no CD burners. Having lived in a world before the Internet and the digital revolution, I can really appreciate the technology available to today’s future rock stars.

This brings me to my list of current favorite music apps. I should clarify that these are all apps for the iPhone/iPad. I know nothing about what is available for Droid phones.

Garage Band

Many musicians could get by with only this piece of glorious software. For only $5, you get all that you need to create, record and share your music. Garage Band is a multi-track recorder with an entire library of instruments and effects all built in. That’s right, all the instruments are in there. Multiple guitars, basses, drum kits, keyboards, and strings. All with multiple effects, too. It sounds great. It’s easy to use. It’s fun. What more could you want? Here’s a demo:


If you are a musician then you know all about Moog. Moog was a pioneer in early commercial analog synthesizers. You’ve all heard a Moog in action at some point. The Beatles, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Stevie Wonder, Kraftwerk all made famous songs using the Moog. Well, now you too can have the power of a Moog analog synthesizer right in your hand. It’s perfect for recording or playing live. It has tons of preset sounds, and every sound is adjustable. The potential to create very interesting sounds is nearly limitless. Check it out:

iKaossilator by Korg

Now here is an app where you can easily lose lots of time. Basically it’s a one-man jam band, electronic style. There are 50 preset rhythms, including everything from house to dubstep to nujazz to reggae to pop to chill to hip hop…etc. Each rhythm is made up of 5 tracks. Each track can be controlled in various ways. It’s crazy versatile and fairly easy to use. A video will do this way more justice than my lack of words! Check it out in action:


All I can say about this is that it is a cool synth with excellent sounds and rhythms. And it’s free. Again, allow me to let the video do the selling:


This is basically just a beat maker. It’s easy to pick and use and it’s fun. You get to work with the drums, the bass, and a lead. Each instrument can be modified and tweaked. Each instrument can be manually controlled for soloing. Here’s a video of what you can do:


Record 12 sounds (with video) and begin to make music. This is basically a very cool sample pad. You can trigger your samples simply by tapping the thumbnail. Record everyday sounds and make music from them. This thing is a blast. My kid loves it. There are tons of sets to download and play with. Check out the possibilities:

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