Producing music nowadays is becoming easier and easier as developers try and simplify their software’s UI to become more user friendly. It’s not a wonder there are some great and easy-to-use apps to compose music for recreation or actual studio-quality records. I’m a producer myself, so I’m always on the lookout for some innovative ways to use my iPhone as a production tool.
There are a number of composition apps available for the iPhone, but I’m going to highlight the noteworthy and more user friendly apps in order to maximise your experience with composing on your iPhone. Whether you’re a serious musician or just looking to test the waters, these apps are accessible to all skill levels.
The obvious first choice, GarageBand is Apple’s own music composition software, containing their new “smart” instruments. These take almost no skill to play and you still get a great sounding end result. GarageBand has an arrangement view that allows you to access loops and effects to add that extra touch of magic.
This is probably the most diverse music app in terms of it’s usage, but it’s quite hard to view the arrangement screen on the go. Live performance is more than possible; you could even create a loop-style set with solely the iPhone and your imagination. This is the best way to compose music with minimal effort.
This neat little app is a great way to kill time, but can also be productive if you sit down and use it seriously for a little while. It makes for amazing realtime processing of musical loops. It’s a great value app that is very user friendly. When used correctly, it’s an awesome app for serious musicians, even as a live performance tool.
This app is simple fun and intuitive; it had me on it for hours. It’s actually quite pretty too — the colour wheel for effects looks really good on the Retina display. With admirable power, functionality and value, it’s hard to say no.
Fl Studio mobile is a mini DAW complete with step sequencer, filters, a massive instruments bank and numerous other features, making it one of the best options for serious musical composition on the iPhone. It’s a great way to begin composing music or to develop ideas.
Being an Fl user myself, this app felt right at home to use. It can help you develop anything from a simple idea to a fully-fledged song with surprising levels of complexity. Image-Line’s nifty app has a relatively steep learning curve, meaning you’ll have to sit with it for a little while before you familiarise yourself with the interface.
iMASCHINE is an intuitive beat sketch pad perfect for developing song ideas on the fly. The app features 16 pads, a keyboard, a built-in audio recorder, or you can create your own unique sample banks from your own material. The app also has sound cloud integration, allowing you to upload your jams once you’ve finished.
This app is usable by practically anyone; with its intuitive threshold-based pad sampling, on-board mixer and many other features, you can get to grips with the app’s UI almost instantly, allowing for faster, more complex grooves as a result.
KORG iKaossilator is a versatile live performance tool that produces some really great tones to complete your live setup. Not only is it a great way to perform new-age tracks, it’s also a very aesthetically pleasing app. It contains 150 unique samples that will surely include the right sound to add that little bit extra to your performance.
This is a pretty pricy app compared to the others, but when placed against the actual Kaossilator’s price tag of £100, this becomes a pretty good deal. The visuals are stunning and ad a kinetic dimension to your playing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed performing with this app, and I’m sure you will too.
By now, the ‘i’ extension is probably getting a bit overused, but don’t let that put you off these great apps. This one in particular is a complete musical production suite right in the palm of your hand. Its sequencer lies in only one screen, so you don’t have to fiddle about, it’s all very organised.
Admittedly, this app doesn’t look the nicest, however it has incredible functionality for the price tag. After using it for a little while, the app’s samples and interface began to grow on me, but it’ll take a little while to get used to. If you want to by this app, you should stick with it resiliently, otherwise productivity will slump.
This is a less serious but great sounding app to make your singing, good or bad, sound reasonably professional. It intuitively auto-tunes your voice and plays it to your choice of genre/tempo music. As well as the obvious pitch correction, it has that nice little studio touch with effects such as reverb, flange, chorus and delay which slightly separates it from less serious apps that are just gags.
Rarely have I used this to create professional music, however it’s very possible to create some great ideas for a song if you’re really stuck on where to take some lyrics or thoughts. A great party trick, pitch corrector and semi-professional sonics make this a great choice.
Bebot is a polyphonic voice-like synthesizer with a multitouch-controlled interface. It features four different synthesis modes, filters, effects and distortion. User-programmable scales allow you to play in any key or any scale, which is handy when you want to record or perform a part without messing up.
This versatile synthesiser is great whether you’re a serious musician or not; live performance is made simple and fun, and you can have a good laugh with your mates. The sound quality for this cheaper synthesiser isn’t that bad either.
As you can see, there are many ways to perform and compose with your iPhone, with thousands of other apps just waiting to be touched by your fingertips. The iPhone however, isn’t really a suitable platform to compose an entire song on, so don’t expect the complexity heard in proper studio-mastered tracks. That’s not to say these apps aren’t capable though; I’m sure you can make the most of these intuitive and versatile composition apps.