Favorite Music Apps of 2012

By Caleb Hsu

The world today is a place where online newspapers are more popular by demand than sources printed in ink, and boarding passes, concert tickets, coupons and discount codes can be scanned directly from smartphones. Since the rise of smartphones and tablets, companies have been bustling to adapt their products to fit the shift in how society accesses information. A quick search of “music” in Apple’s App Store for iPhones alone yields nearly 3,000 results. For all you Android users out there, Amazon’s App Store yielded over 1,000 results under the same keyword.

Scrolling through the seemingly endless inventory of apps available may initially seem daunting. However, refining the search to your specific interests or goals while taking into consideration user ratings and popularity will help lessen the burden. I implore anyone interested in solidifying their understanding of music theory or just in discovering something new and exciting to explore what’s out there for musicians. I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite music apps of 2012 for mostly iOS devices not to further support the ever-growing Apple franchise, but simply because I’m a dedicated iPhone/iPad user. All of the following reviews are solely my opinion and none of the products were endorsed in any way.

Click on the name of each app to find out what it does:

Musicopoulos Theory
What it does: Seriously, this is your basic all-inclusive pocket companion for learning the essentials of music theory and improving sight-reading skills! It features comprehensive lessons followed by practice examples that track your progress as you develop your musicianship. You can even virtually play the exercises on piano, guitar, bass guitar, cello, violin and viola.

For: iPhone/iPad
itunes.apple.com/us/app/music-theory-practice-by-musicopoulos/id319290362?ls=1&mt=8 (Free!)

What it does: Coming from a strictly classical background, a school like Berklee College of Music can be somewhat challenging. My next app is for anyone who is frightened by seeing anything that resembles chords such as: #IV-7(♭5). This app basically formulates chord progressions based on a catalog of suggestions for any given key. You can learn common jazz progressions, build reharmonizations, and train your ear to recognize specific chords.

For: iPhone/iPad
itunes.apple.com/us/app/suggester-chord-progression/id504740787?mt=8 (Free! – If you feel like you could use extra practice with more hands on visuals, I’d also highly recommend Pro Chords, $8.99, here: itunes.apple.com/us/app/pro-chords-instant-inspiration/id335317698?mt=8)

What it does: Creative, engaging, simplistic, compositional inspiration. Designed by Propellerhead, maker of the immensely powerful Reason, this app is designed for music making on the go. You can effortlessly create tracks, loop sounds, sync bass and synth leads, and create unique rhythms within seconds. The coolest feature of this app is its live play functionality and ability to sync with other devices seamlessly to create an entirely new way of performing. It can be used in conjunction with a number of compatible apps including my next favorite!

For: iPhone/iPad
itunes.apple.com/us/app/figure/id511269223?mt=8 ($0.99)

What it does: I cannot say enough about this app! The countless plugins available, the sophistication of production, the highly interactive layout — all for free! Forget paying for GarageBand, this is far superior. You not only can create, edit, and record, you can control everything you do with actual MIDI controllers and connect with multiple devices through Wi-Fi. A definite must-have for iPad users!

For: iPad
itunes.apple.com/us/app/tabletop/id436080882?mt=8 (Free!)

What it does: Pick a mood, choose a word, or select a playlist and this app will provide a perfect mix instantly. I’ve discovered so many great bands and artists using this, no joke. If you want to expand your library, I’d absolutely recommend giving it a try!

For: Android/iPhone/iPad
itunes.apple.com/us/app/songza/id453111583?mt=8 (Free!)
play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ad60.songza&hl=en (Free!)

Have you discovered any great apps? – Feel free to email thegroove@berklee.edu or comment below letting us know!