Turn your iPhone into an instrument with these apps

Nov 10, 2010
Music

If you don’t play music but you’re a big fan, chances are, at some point or another, you’ve experimented with or would like to dabble in virtual performance. What did we possibly do before we could give the illusion of playing music without really having to learn how to strum, tap, or hit? And forget […]

If you don’t play music but you’re a big fan, chances are, at some point or another, you’ve experimented with or would like to dabble in virtual performance. What did we possibly do before we could give the illusion of playing music without really having to learn how to strum, tap, or hit? And forget music video games like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero — perhaps you’d prefer something a bit more portable and compact. Install apps like the ones below, and turn your iPhone or iPod into a virtual, but seemingly real, instrument.

Drum Kit ($1.99)

This app has a full drum kit for you to tap around on, creating a clatter close to the real sound and feel of drums. There are two floor toms, two rack toms and one more cymbal than on a standard kit. The sounds are loud, the noises fierce, and… you can save and play back the awesome beats you come up with. Great for practicing your paradiddles (basic drumming exercise) with your fingers and brainstorming some tracks for band practice later.

Xylophone Instrument (99 cents)

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? On the plus side, what might seem like a kids’ toy at first glance (because of the vibrant colors and big shapes) is actually an instrument that’s fun for children and adults alike. But on the down side, it does kind of stop there. You can play the xylophone, and it definitely takes a while before that gets old, but you aren’t able to record it. In fact, when you press the little “i” in the corner of the app, hoping for more features or information, you learn who the app is designed and developed by, but that’s about it.

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PocketGuitar (99 cents)

Strum this six-string pocket guitar like it’s the real deal. The fretboard and strings take up the whole iPod screen, the “lifelike” size making it seem authentic, the sustained notes lingering from strumming. At the mere sight of an instrument on my iPod, my boyfriend couldn’t resist playing it. With my eyes closed — and naturally if I didn’t know what I was listening to — I could easily mistake the PocketGuitar for any guitar at our practice space. (I’m not just saying that.) You are limited to four frets at a time, but you can scroll up and down the neck to get the full spectrum. Choose between classical, acoustic and lead guitars and separate instruments like ukulele and bass, not to mention chorus and delay effects.

miniSynth ($1.99)

Just like a real synth, miniSynth has preset sounds and the option to make your own sounds. But with miniSynth, you can actually record the sounds you make as you go, and then export them instantly. Since the screen of an iPhone or iPod is not large enough to hold an entire synth board, you can only view sections of the board at any one time.

 

Metronome (99 cents)

The metronome is surely a drummer’s best friend/favorite accessory. But it shouldn’t be restricted to only drummers. It’s a great way to keep time if you’re a guitar player who loses his or her way or a bass player trying to keep up, but failing. On this app, select your time signature — 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 — and adjust the speed to anywhere from 1 to 210 (super fast).

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