The 7 best Android apps for songwriters and musicians
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Songwriting is not easy, but it is incredibly enjoyable. If you are learning to play an instrument and want to start writing your own material, there are lots of apps out there that claim to make the process easier. We've chosen the seven best apps for songwriters and musicians to help you harness your creativity and write better songs.
1. ChordChord: Progression Generator & Music Maker
Of course, there are no rules when it comes to songwriting, but starting out with a chord progression is one way to get the ball rolling on your track. Noel Gallagher has said he wrote all of Oasis' first three albums this way, sitting with an acoustic guitar and playing around until he found a chord progression he liked. Today, there's an app to speed that process up significantly.
ChordChord generates chord progressions in an instant. You'll get arpeggiated chords and simple drum patterns to accompany if you chose to as well, and you can tweak the BPM to your desired speed if you like the chord progression but wanted something a little slower or faster.
I've found the best way to use ChordChord is to leave everything on random and just hit generate a bunch of times until you find something you're into. Then, you can use that chord progression on any instrument, such as guitar for example, and start playing around with the chords on different parts of the neck. If you don't know where those are, the next app in our list will help.
2. All Chords Guitar
All Chords Guitar is a simple yet powerful chord library that features more than 5,000 chord variants. Having a nice progression to work with is great, but simply playing open chords can get a little stale after a while. With All Chords Guitar, you can quickly look up variations of the chord and play them anywhere on the guitar neck. Remember, the chord progression is still the chord progression, no matter where you play it, so get creative and mix things up!
The app itself has a very clean interface and is super easy to use. There are also no advertisements in there blocking the content and slowing you down. For beginners, the finger numbers are tabbed on the chords so even if you have never come across the variant before, you can quickly learn how to play it.
3. Lil Drum Machine
So you've got a nice chord progression and you've put your own spin on it by transferring it to some interesting chord variants, and now you need some drums or percussion on the track. Those of you who know your vintage drum machines will see where the inspiration for this app comes from, it's certainly a tip of the hat to the legendary Roland TR-808!
Lil Drum Machine is nothing like a typical drum pad app of which you see hundreds of on the Google Play Store. Lil Drum Machine is a proper, fully programmable 16th note step sequencer. It's not the easiest to pick up and start making drum loops if you've never used this type of sequencer before, but if you are serious about making music, taking the time master it is well worth it. Lil Drum Machine features pattern editing, multiple FX options, and the option to export your drum loops into DAWs. Lil Drum Machine is available as an ad-free demo, but you'll have to pay $5.99 for the full version.
4. Aroundsound Audio Recorder
You never know when inspiration will hit you, that's why so many musicians and songwriters use note-taking and voice recording apps to save their ideas before they disappear. Aroundsound is an app for recording, organizing and sharing sound. Think of it as a kind of Instagram for audio, but with superior sound quality. Your voice notes will not only be recorded on your device but synchronized on the cloud, meaning you'll never lose a great song idea.
You can also pin and annotate important parts of your sound even while recording and instantly share with anybody - they don’t have to have the app - making collaboration much easier. There's also now a dedicated Dark Mode, for those of you who are fully converted to white on black since the update to Android 10. Whilst the app is not designed specifically for musicians, it's one of the best on the market for recording song ideas and sharing them with your bandmates.
5. Rhymes Finder
We've tackled the musical side of things, now it's time to take on the lyrics. There's no right or wrong way to go about writing lyrics and every musician has their own technique (Rivers Cuomo of Weezer uses a spreadsheet and groups lines he likes by the number of syllables) but if you are struggling to come up with words that rhyme, this app can help.
As you type your lyrics into the app you can search for words that rhyme with what you already have. Not all songs have to have rhyming lyrics, of course, but Rhymes Finder is particularly good for rappers. The app is capable of identifying rhymes from 470,000 English words.
6. BOSS Tuner
BOSS, part of the Roland Corporation, has made a digital version of its legendary TU-3 tuner pedal for guitar. The real TU-3 sits on just about every professional guitarist's pedalboard around the world, but if you are looking to keep your instrument in tune without carrying around a 390-gram box around with you, then the BOSS Tuner app is a good backup.
The app provides hands-free chromatic tuning for a variety of instruments, audible reference pitch function for tuning by ear, and supports horizontal screen to enlarge meter view. The tuning range is from A#0 (29.14 Hz)–G8 (6,271.93 Hz) and it has a tuning accuracy of +/- 1 cent. The only price you pay for the app is that you'll get an integrated newsfeed for the latest BOSS product info.
Tully, made by developer Vertical Craft, is the final app on our list. It's designed to be a kind of one-stop-shop for writing, recording, listening to and sharing song ideas. It's not easy to pack all of these elements into a single app, but Tully has certainly made a good go of it.
Tools include music production, a songwriter which is usable whilst listening to your audio, a finder for rhyming words while songwriting, and the ability to record ideas for your songs. You can also save all files in one folder, which the developer claims is then studio ready. It's a really interesting concept and I'll be keeping an eye on this in the future as more features are added.
Are you a musician or a songwriter? What apps do you use? Let us know in the comments below.
I still consider myself a composer, but I haven't even made music since the start of Android and iOS. This may explain my interest in this article. Thanks! :-) I remember that in 2011 the iPad 2 sounded great (in rendering audio from MIDI), and that my first Android devices suffered from hopeless MIDI lag. As I remember it, Android v6 improved this.
Composing may proceed along different lines. You may start with a poem that is rhythmic enough to find a melody to it. I would pay far more attention to the rhythm than to the rhyme.
Another approach is expanding on a piece of melody, including riffs and the classical approach of tinkering with themes.
Finding a chord progression and eventually establishing a melody to it would amount to "fixating" an improvisation in the way that jazz has known since Charlie Parker. But this approach could fit any style.
I could also imagine songs emerging from percussive patterns or from the sound of a single note. These two could amount to creating something like an Indian "raga". Also, kaleidoscopic synthesizer sounds could shift something like "melody" to "notes".
So I think that there is no single way to composing music, and therefore no single app. Just feel what seems to be your idea at a given moment, preserve it in whatever way, and elaborate on it.
Apart from that, there is computer-generated music. I used to be interested in Windows programs like ArtWonk. Its creator had to give up for health reasons, and I forgot what he did with the program.
If there is one app I feel like mentioning, it's FL Studio. I have it on several platforms (including Android and iOS), but I've never yet gone past page 1. It's versatile (originally a sequencer, as I remember it), affordable and (as I just said) cross-platform - but it may have quite some learning curve.
Oh, yes: you may want to add a hardware keyboard for pressure sensitivity. (I still intend to connect my wind controller to a mobile device.)
You may also want to mirror the tiny screen of your Android device (likely a smartphone...) to a larger monitor in the stage of editing.