Apps for Musicians 5


One of the great advantages to having smart devices (whether they are tablets or phones) is the ready availability of useful apps for almost any need. Since I have a lot of students that own smartphones and tablets, but very few students that own strobe tuners, metronomes, or a recording studio, I decided to compile some of the better apps for musicians!

List of apps for Android

List of apps for iOS

 

Android Apps for Musicians:

Tuner/Metronome Apps

  • Pitchlab Guitar Tuner (Free to $3) – My current favorite. It says guitar tuner, but it has a full chromatic tuner with different temperament options along with a variety of different visualizations, and a tone generator with many octaves and sound wave types to choose from. It also features several difficulty settings, to determine how close you must be to a given note to count as “in tune”.
  • TonalEnergy ($2)Read my review of TonalEnergy here. One of the most popular tuning apps available. This app includes a tuner, metronome, recorder, analysis page, and a pitch pipe. Also gives you a smiley face when you’re in tune!
  • Cleartune ($4) – Read my review of ClearTune right here. Fairly simple and straightforward. There are fewer options here than in some other apps, but it does contain a fully chromatic tuner, selectable temperaments, and a tone generator.  Easy to use and easy to understand.
  • Tuneable ($2) –  Read my review of Tunable here. A tuner with a unique historical-type view shows how steady (or not) your pitch is over time. Selectable difficulty settings for an “in tune” note make this appropriate for both beginner and advanced players. The screen turns red if you’re out of tune and slowly turns green the longer you stay in tune, so it’s fairly easy to use and understand from a distance. A tone generator and a metronome are also included. This is a nice all-in-one app.
  • iStroboSoft ($10) – Peterson has an excellent track record as a maker of precision strobe and handheld tuners, but although I’m sure this app is equally well done, I don’t know if it’s (relatively) high price tag is justified by increased accuracy or features.
  • Mobile Metronome (Free to $1.50) – A straightforward and easy-to-use metronome. While the paid version does have a few extra features, the free version contains just about everything you need – tap tempo, adjustable downbeat and time signature, and more.
  • Time Guru ($2) – A basic metronome with a unique feature – the ability to randomly mute the beat pattern, to check if you are rushing or dragging without the metronome’s beat. This one can also do mixed meter and can speak the beats.
  • Metronome: Tempo ($1.25) – This app includes all the basic metronome functionality along with the ability to make and share setlists, so you can easily keep track of pieces for a particular gig or record your progress for a particular piece over time – all right in the metronome app.
  • Drum Beats+ Rhythm Metronome ($3.95) – If you’re looking for a metronome that will do a bit more than just give you a click, check out this app. It comes with a variety of drum beats from popular music songs and styles, and you can download additional beats. Keep Kopprasch etudes interesting by practicing it with a drummer!

Other Useful Practice Apps

  • Quality Tones ($4)Read my review of the Quality Tones app. An app designed to help you improve first-note accuracy, as well as intonation, dynamic range, attacks, stopped horn, and more.
  • Sound Meter (Free to $1.50) – Although you can use this to monitor how loud it is sitting in front of the trombones, you can also use this to quantify and improve your dynamic range. Keep in mind that the accuracy of this app (and any sound meter) depends on the microphone, and so this won’t be as accurate as a $200 single-purpose sound meter, but it’s a start!
  • Easy Voice Recorder (Free to $4) – Recording yourself is one of the fastest (and most humbling) ways to improve. While recording yourself on a phone won’t sound great (the tiny mics aren’t meant for much other than normal talking), you can easily hear things like articulation, intonation, and rhythm. The pro version of this app even lets you use an external Bluetooth mic (if you have one), which will improve the sound quality of the recordings quite a bit.
  • Time Meter (Free to $4) – Tracking your practice time and what you actually practice is both important and often overlooked. Using this app you can record both the time you practice and write down notes on the pieces you’ve practiced, the bar numbers and metronome markings, as well as the scales, arpeggios, and any other important information.

 

iOS Apps for Musicians:

Tuner/Metronome Apps

  • Cleartune ($4)Read my review of ClearTune right here. Basically the same as the Android version – easy to use, very accurate, but it is just a tuner/tone generator (no metronome, recording, etc.). Also available on iPad.
  • Tuneable ($3)Read my review of Tunable here. Also the same as the Android version, a nice combination tuner, tone generator, and basic metronome The display is unique (showing intonation over a short amount of time), but for some it’s really intuitive. Varying “difficulty” ratings give you more or less leniency on what is considered “in tune”. Also available on iPad.
  • Tonal Energy ($4)Read my review of TonalEnergy here. Similar to Tuneable, this tuner gives you feedback when you are “in tune” in the form of a nice smiley face! It also features a tone generator, a metronome and lets you record yourself while you’re playing. Also has a waveform display so you a can see what your sound looks like! Probably one of the best all-around tuner apps on iOS! Also available on iPad.
  • iStroboSoft ($10) – Similar to the Android app – a great lineage, but this is a more expensive app than the others in this category. The iOS version does have some features missing from Android, including settings for an input boost and a noise filter, so you can more easily use this app with an external microphone. A great tuner app, but it has no additional features beyond a tone generator. Also available on iPad.
  • Time Guru ($3) – Similar to the Android app – this is just a metronome, but it’s got a lot of unique features that aren’t readily found on metronomes in the above combination tuner apps. The silence function and the ability to program in odd meters make this quite useful, even if you have other metronome apps!
  • Tempo ($2) – By the same guys that made the Android Tempo:Metronome app, it’s basically the same app. There is also Tempo Advance ($3) an iOS-only version that support for polyrhythm, automatic speed up/slow down, and some different customization and setlist options. Also available for iPad.
  • Drum Beats+ Rhythm Metronome ($4.99) – If you’re looking for a metronome that will do a bit more than just give you a click, check out this app. It comes with a variety of drum beats from popular music songs and styles, and you can download additional beats. Keep Kopprasch etudes interesting by practicing it with a drummer!

Other practice apps

  • Quality Tones ($4) – Read my review of the Quality Tones app. An app designed to help you improve first-note accuracy, as well as intonation, dynamic range, attacks, stopped horn, and more.
  • db Volume Meter ($.99) – for 99 cents, this is an app that every musician should own! This app (and other app decibel meters) are not going to be highly accurate, but they will give you an idea of your dynamic range and they’ll let you know just how loud that trombone player behind you is! Also available on iPad.
  • Decibel Meter Pro ($.99) – The same as the previous decibel app – this one just has a more “analog” display. Also available in iPad.
  • Recording apps: This is one area where iOS comes out way ahead of Android. You can get relatively simple voice-recorder apps like Voice Recorder HD or iTalk Recorder, or you can go for actual multi-track recording software, such as GarageBand, Music Studio, or StudioTrack. Many of the multi-track apps are (relatively) expensive compared to normal app prices (from $5-$15), but that’s much less expensive than most equivalent software on a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Music Tutor ($1.99) – If you need to brush up on your music basics or need an app to help you learn bass clef, this is a cheap and game-ified way to do it. Also available on the iPad and Apple Watch!
  • Music Journal Pro ($6.99) – If you want a specific app to track what you practice and how long, this is one has some nice extra features. It also includes a metronome, the ability to enter extra information, and it has graphs and charts to easily visualize how much you did (or didn’t) practice. Also available on iPad.

Additional Thoughts

If you plan on using either a smartphone or tablet as a tuner or metronome, try to also get an external speaker to make it easier to hear the metronome or tone generator over your own playing. You can get a small and portable Bluetooth speaker on Amazon for as cheap as $20 (there are lots to choose from!), and this can make it much easier to practice matching drone pitches at dynamics other than pianissimo!

Don’t forget about an external battery to make sure your device(s) stay charged up!

If you have good computer speakers, you can also try the Cello Reference Tones website, which features a single chromatic octave of an okay-sounding cello sample. It’s not great, but it’s better than nothing.

  • Carlw

    Another great app to include for iOS is Forescore. Great for gigs instead of using paper sheet music, turn pages with bluetooth foot pedals, fully annotational and linkable to existing mp3s for play along while practicing.

    • Yes – good idea!

      I actually used a tablet to play a musical last month, and I had a heck of a time finding a good app (I had an Android tablet, and Forscore is iOS only)! I have started a rough draft of a blog post about using a tablet instead of sheet music, but I haven’t done too much on it yet. Thanks!

  • Carlw

    For my Windows 10 Surface Pro I use PM Professional.