The thing plugged into its butt is an iRig MIDI, lets the phone send and receive MIDI data. A birthday gift (Thanks Ed!)

I inherited an iPhone from my dad (thanks Dad!) when he upgraded, and while I’m not going to go into its merits as a phone or otherwise, as a platform for music-making it’s been a revelation. (I’m not just endorsing iPhones here, this applies to any smartphone or tablet with app capability.)

There are lots of music apps out there. Most are junk, or novelty. Some are serious, but don’t suit a handheld device (usually they have a badly designed/too fiddly interface, or push the device beyond its limits). But there are a few that are pure gold.

The undisputed daddy, on the iPhone at least, is GarageBand, Apple’s own music creation program (displayed in the screenshot). This seriously raised the bar for what you could expect a music program on a phone to do, and a reasonable price tag other developers were forced to follow. I actually haven’t used it to record music – I use it more like a musical sketchpad – but it’s absolutely possible to record a song, a proper song, with proper instrumentation using nothing but this app. On a phone. When I think about it too much, I start to feel like this guy:

“A fucking telephone!”

Apps I’ve used to record stuff are VoiceMorph (which is a bit of a novelty really, but cheap and does what it says); KORG’s iKaossilator, of which I can’t speak highly enough, and deserves its own post; ImprovVox, a vocal app that can make you sound like all three BeeGees (seriously!), and ThumbJam, which really did take my breath away – an app that’s like having a string quartet in your pocket.

And the great thing is that there are new apps released all the time, and they’re cheap (over £5 is considered expensive in app-land). It’s just the phone that will cost you. But not me. Ahem. Thanks again Dad :-)


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