Favorite Music Apps of 2013

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By Caleb Hsu

2013 has been a year of innovation with a constant fusion of music with technology. With fully-functional synthesizers as small as credit cards and ongoing projects that blend the newest technological advancements in ways that enable musical creativity to flourish, we are always on the lookout for new ways to explore music. We’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorite music-related apps to share with you below. Also check out our previous edition of apps we were loving from earlier this year!

All of the following reviews are solely opinion-based and none of the products were endorsed or sponsored in any way. Click on the name of each app to find out what it does:

Soundwave Music Discovery

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What it does: This app makes finding new music a blast. Although having to sign in using Facebook is always a drag, this app revolutionizes the way social media can enhance music discovery. It tracks the songs you play through Google, Spotify, Rdio, etc. and tunes into what music pages you’ve liked to compile new artists for you to fall in love with. There is an incredibly unique and interactive map feature that lets you draw a circle of any circumference around any nearby area to see what people are listening to around you. You can connect within the app to all of your other favorite streaming apps to have the most comprehensive listening experience possible. We love the design too!

For: Android/iPhone/iPad (requires iOS 7 or higher)
Website (Free!)

Qello

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What it does: Qello is like the Netflix for live music performance lovers. It boasts an archive of concerts, music documentaries, live specials, festival performances and more, covering everything from classic rock to electronic, punk to funk, Latin rock to Top 40 pop. If you’re interested in learning more, we previously posted a comprehensive story with all the details of Qello.

For: iPhone, Android, iPad or iPod
Website (Free to download the app, $4.99 per month subscription)

rithm

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What it does: Snapchat has wooed more than 100 million users with their addictive, erasable photo messages. Rithm delivers that same experience with a twist of using cute music messaging. Choose from over 20 million songs to soundtrack a video or picture and send your finished masterpiece to any of your friends. Even those who don’t have the app will receive a text with a link to the message, complete with a 30-second clip of the track. Plus, it’s a fun way to send suggestions for hot new artists you’re loving. Be creative, be original, and go crazy!

For: Those iOS 7+ users who are obsessed with Vine, Snapchat, and all things Instagram
Website (Free!)

Capo

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What it does: Though I’m a piano principal here at Berklee, I’ve concluded that this app is absolutely a must-have for guitar players! It is essentially Melodyne for guitar tracks. With Capo, you can learn new riffs in a mater of minutes with its ability to slow tempos, loop specific sections, and see corresponding tabs. By slowing down the music without affecting its pitch, you can learn to play your favorite tunes at your own pace, and then speed up as you improve. You can drop markers at key points in the song and set loop points to repeat them. The coolest features are the ability to: employ mono re-mixing to isolate the left or right channels in your audio, use the 10-band equalizer to help isolate specific frequencies/tones, or use the vocal reduction feature to remove the lead singer’s vocal from the mix!

On the Mac version, there is a complex algorithmic-based spectrogram that has sophisticated chord and beat detection technology that give you the exact chords with multiple fingerings. Capo takes the guesswork out of learning to play by ear, and helps facilitate the process of improving your instrumental skills by offering multiple chord suggestions.

For: Guitar players frustrated with learning difficult passages who have an iPhone/iPad (iOS 5+) or Mac (Try out the free trial version of the Mac version before you buy!)
Website ($9.99 for iPhone/iPad, $29.99 for Mac)

TuneTrace

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What it does: Make drawings in the real world, photograph them with TuneTrace, and hear them transformed into music! When you photograph a real drawing, the image is analyzed by a computer program that generates live music. Sit back and watch as TuneTrace gracefully translates your photograph into a skeleton of line endings and crossings with twinkling lights that navigate your drawing, making music as they go. We love this app because it is reminiscent of DYSKOGRAF’s genius graphic disk reader that turns seemingly random doodles into intriguing sounds.

For: Your inner music nerd (with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod)
Website (Free!)

Arturia

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What it does: The fusion of music with technology is trending towards modernizing analog components from the early days of recording into more contemporary and relevant (accessible) means. Arturia beautifully recreates the iconic 1971 Minimoog synthesizer made famous by artists like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and Stevie Wonder. All of the previously tactile (and sometimes unreliable) faders, switches and knobs are now displayed digitally with enhanced precision and heightened sensitivity. While we would love to see audio bussing compatibility, or potential for wireless communication between multiple devices, this app creates enough realism to be taken seriously. Considering an actual Minimoog can cost upwards of $4,000, this is a no brainer for all those electronic musicians out there!

For: That trendy, tech-minded friend of yours who’s trying to become the next Zedd or Daft Punk’s protégé with an iPad (2 or higher generation; iOS 6.0+).
Website ($9.99)

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