Making Music On My iPad – My Top 3 Favorite iPad Music Apps

My Top 7 iPad Music Apps -

A colleague of mind asked me the other day, “What are your top 3 favorite iPad music apps?”  I don’t remember exactly what I said but I’m sure I ran down a list of the some of the music apps I’ve been using lately.  For some reason, the question stuck with me.

I’ll confess that I was an early adopter.  From the moment I bought it, I’ve been intrigued by the music-making possibilities offered by my iPad.  Because of the touch-screen interface, it instantly felt more like an instrument than my computer.

As I continued to ponder my colleague’s question I realized that my iPad has become an integral part of my music-making process.  Of course, I figured you, my fellow “SoundSavants”, are probably doing the same and would be interested in hearing what I use.  So, here is a list of 3 of my favorite iPad music apps.

1 – Beatwave

Screenshot of a Beatwave sessionBeatwave was the very first iPad app I actually used to make music and I’m pretty sure it’s design was based on the very influential Tenori-on electronic music instrument by Yamaha.

Basically it’s a 16-step sequencer with built-in sounds.  The horizontal axis defines time and the vertical axis defines pitch.  You can see it in action here.

My favorite feature in Beatwave is the Grid Morpher.  This allows you to add a certain amount of randomization to your sequences.  I’ve found that if you use the Grid Morpher the right way it turns Beatwave into an algorhythmic composition tool.

In fact, this is what I use Beatwave for now.  I type in a simple sequence, turn on the Grid Morpher, hit record and just let the app percolate away.  Invariably, I end up with something I can use in a future piece.  In other words, Beatwave is my secret composition starter.

Beatwave is a free app, with an upgrade to BeatwavePro available as an in-app purchase.  The upgrade give you some new sounds.

You can hear some loops that I’ve created with Beatwave here.

2 – Stochastik Drum Machine

Obviously, this is a drum machine app, but it takes the concept of a drum machine a step further by allowing you to set the probability that a note will trigger for each step in your sequence.  Sounds complicated but it’s not. Take a look.

I use Stochatik to give me a bunch of variations on the same drum loop.  Basically, I program a 1-bar loop and “seed” it with some variables.  Then I just have Stochastik export 8 or 16 variations of that loop.

I can then use those variations to add excitement and variety to my music because there’s nothing as boring as a 1-bar drum loop that repeats through an entire song.

Stochastik comes with a bunch of very useful drum sounds.  It will also allow you to import your own samples.

I’m trying to give you an honest explanation of what Stochastik does but it’s very hard to curb my enthusiasm.  Since buying Stochastik, I really haven’t used any other program or app for my drum programming.  It’s that good.  You owe it to yourself to try it out.

3 – Animoog

Animoog isn’t just a cool iPad synth.  It’s a flat-out monster sound design machine!  It’s also difficult to describe with words so take a look at this demo video:

As you watch the video, pay attention to how the use of touch gestures allow you to instantly create sounds that are far more organic than most keyboard-based synths. That’s the thing that struck me as soon as I started messing around with this synth.

I still haven’t touched 10% of what this thing can do.  I’m just amazed at how they were able to create such a sophisticated and expressive synth for the iPad.

Here’s one  example of how I’ve been using Animoog in my musical productions.  The first synth part you hear is the Echopluck preset from Animoog.

What Are Your Top 3 iPad Music Apps?

So those were my top 3 favorite iPad music apps of the moment.  I say, “of the moment” because I just bought the Thor app by Propellerheads last night and I expect to be enjoying messing with that for a very long time.

What are you using to make music with your iPad?  I’d love to hear about it.  Just let me know right here.

Beyond The Fog – A Nature Video Exploring Cape Cod Images and Landscapes

I’ve been having a lot of fun recently putting together some music videos.  I used iMovie to sequence together the photos.  With the Ken Burns effect you almost forget that you’re looking at still pictures rather than video.

The ambient music track I put together for this video includes some processed guitar along with two tracks sequenced synths using Thor from Reason. I actually used the random function in the sequencer of Thor to create a type of random music generator. I was going for something similar to the Bloom iPhone app. I think it turned out nice.

The photos were taken by my dad while on vacation in Cape Cod, MA. The music was very inspired by the fog rolling out in the morning. The images have a very light, ethereal quality to them that I wanted to evoke in the music. I’ve always found peaceful landscape photography inspiring so I think I’m going to start producing some more of these videos.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Making Music On My iPad With Soundrop

I can’t remember how I ran across it but I’ve had the Soundrop app on my iPad for a few months now.  As you can see in the video below, it’s really more of  a game than a music-making app.

Using the sound harvesting techniques I outlined in a previous post, I’ve been recording the output of my Soundrop sessions to create some raw source material for my music and sound design projects.  Tonally, Soundrop is a one-trick-pony.  You either enjoy the mallet sounds or not. Continue reading “Making Music On My iPad With Soundrop”