My top 10 music apps
I have been playing guitar for 18 years and working as a musician for 9.
I have had an iPhone for 11 years, and these are the ten apps I use regularly!
Others have come and gone, but these apps cover me for everything I need – whether writing, rehearsing, teaching, arranging or performing.
You are going to need to keep your guitar in tune. Nothing is worse than an out of tune instrument to me!
This free tuner has an excellent Guitar interface (with tons of alternate tuning options) a pitch pipe and a very good chromatic tuner which tells you in cents how in (or out!) of tune you are and displays a recent history of your pitching – great for getting those bends in tune!
This simple app gives you an on-screen piano. You can change how many notes are on screen and also customise the design and sound of your piano.
There is a tuition mode as well, but I haven’t explored it.
This app is a game changer. It is a library of chord charts, similar to the ‘Real Books’ of old, but with unlimited capacity!
You can add your own chord sequences, and there is also an enormous forum where you can find the chord charts to pretty much any song that exists.
On top of this, there is a built in backing track generator, meaning that the app will play you a back backing to the chord sequence using whichever style you chose.
Perfect for dep gigs, learning repertoire and improvisation practice.
Yes, practicing to a metronome is important… but it can be a tad boring. By using a drum loop, we can practice to something a bit more relevant and interesting.
This app has a load of different drum beats which you can change the tempo of.
Also useful for making guide tracks or recording when you don’t have access to a drummer.
Most people know about Shazam, it simply tells you what music is playing.
Included here because of the importance as a musician of discovering new music. Whenever you hear something interesting, Shazam it and have another listen later on.
Great for choosing covers and study material.
Similar to iReal, this app has a library of chord progressions. Designed for guitarists, there is a lot of tablature to show you how to play songs.
Ideal for any musician who is learning cover songs.
Its user-contributed, so you can upload your own tabs or chord sequences, and there are usually a few different versions of each song.
This app also has an excellent Guitar Chord library, which shows every possible way to play every possible chord!
Although the previous tuner has a built in metronome, this one from ONYX Apps is superior in my opinion.
It has a really simple interface and all the options you need (and no more!)
Important for practising anything – in particular developing speed and learning new material.
As a performing musician, there are occasions where you may have to adhere to a particular noise limit.
This decibel meter measures the volume it hears and logs your loudest points. It might not be quite as accurate as a dedicated decibel meter, but it’s pretty close!
Ideal for rehearsing your performances so that you don’t set off a venue sound limiter.
So many musicians use the Voice Memo app on their phone to record ideas and inspiration, but did you know that there is a dedicated version for musicians?
Music memos has a simple interface – the record screen has just one red button, then there is a library of your saved notes.
When you select one of your music memos, the app gives you an approximation of the chord sequence and even the option to add an auto-generated bassline and/or drum beat.
Apples flagship music app had to be included. I’m aware there is tons of reading material on the internet for Garageband, but here is a brief outline.
Great for composing and arranging, you can layer up parts in the same way you can on a full computer DAW.
Record with the phone’s microphone, or even better use an input device (like the iRig) and take advantage of the apps amp simulators and effects. You can also use midi to control the pianos and synthesizers.
One of my favourite tools in Garageband is the Smartdrums feature. A simple to use, but highly effective drum machine which you can use to build full drum tracks – ideal for recording and arranging on the go.
I would love to know if there is something you think I have missed off this list, so please feel free to get in touch via email@example.com