Category Archives: iPhone/iPod Touch Apps

Two App Updates (9/10/18)

I just saw that two apps, neither new, have been updated recently. Treble Cat (and Treble Cat HD), a note reading game, has been refreshed in look and style (I assume we’ll see a similar update to Bass Cat and Rhythm Cat in the future).

I also noticed that Music Memos has been updated. Music Memos remains one of the apps that surprises people the most as I present sessions. Music Memos was invented by Apple to replace the need for musicians to use Voice Notes to “jot down” musical ideas (this was quite common). Music Memos takes a musical recording and analyzes the key, tempo, and harmonic structure–and adds bass and drums to the recording. Ever need to make a quick accompaniment for an ensemble? Try Music Memos. You can also export the final project to Garage Band (Mac only…hoping for iOS integration in the future), or you can export audio as an audio file. Yes, you can edit the program’s interpretation of the chords. When I show this app to audiences, there is always a gasp of awe–even with collegiate students. If you haven’t tried Music Memos, do so–and it is FREE…another wonderful gift for musicians and music educators from Apple.


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Flat v. 2 for iOS

A number of web-based programs simply do not run well on iOS, and therefore, companies are forced into making an iOS app if they want to tap into that potential revenue stream.

Flat.io has had am iOS app for quite a while, but announced this past week that it had released a new version of the app.

If you have an iOS device, and if you have a Flat.io account (if not, why not? There is a free version of the service), give the new version of the app a try today!


Populele Review

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For anyone interested in the world of technology in music education as it pertains to ukulele, I was given the opportunity to review the Populele, an acoustic ukulele with an LED fretboard that connects via Bluetooth to a mobile app (iOS or Android). That review is on my ukulele blog (link).


Cleartune has been updated!

With the appocalypse of iOS 11, many long time apps disappeared. One of those was Cleartune, one of the tuners that has been in the App Store for years. It was a favorite app for many users…and it was gone.

The good news? Bitcount (developer/company) updated it yesterday, and Cleartune is back!

While I would certainly recommend Tonal Energy Tuner as well, Cleartune is a great option…and it now works iOS 11. I hope more of the currently missing apps come back from the dead as well!

Many thanks to Michael Good, the creator of MusicXML and a VP at MakeMusic for tweeting about this and bringing it to my attention!


Compose Leadsheets (New App for iOS)

The concept of written notation to digital notation, or handwriting recognition for music, has blown up over the past few years. I still remember the very famous video from ThinkMusicTechnology back in 2013 that resulted in a lot of excitement about the possibility:

ThinkMusic iPad App Kickstarter

It was a great idea, but the Kickstarter failed. Since then, there have been a number of handwriting apps…I will see if I can put them into chronological order (and I am sure I am missing some):

I do know of some other notation apps that are bringing handwriting soon.

When I see a new app that is entering an established field (looking back to 2013 in this case), I always ask: “What is unique about the app that makes it unique/easier/better/more powerful to use than other apps?” Hopefully every app has an answer to that (it is something that I like to ask on the podcast) rather than to be an alternative. For example: Finale has always been about the power user. Sibelius has always been about power and easier to learn. Notion has always been about high quality sounds and logical keyboard commands. MuseScore is always improving and Free. Dorico is focused on quality engraving and logical keyboard commands. As you think about notation apps for tablets and phones…what is the specialty of each of these apps?

I have a bias here, and I want to be clear about it: I find it easier to compose, arrange, and edit with a mouse/trackpad, QWERTY keyboard, and MIDI keyboard. I used Finale throughout college, and continue to use it–and I also use Notion on most projects (they both get used), both the desktop and iOS versions.

I find handwriting to be best for writing short sequences of notes (e.g. A sight reading exercise) versus an entire song. I love and adore NotateMe, and would have paid far more for it (it is $70 with the scanning IAP), but I don’t do any editing or writing in NotateMe–I use it for the PhotoScore and export features.

I do find handwriting to be the very best way to add diacritical markings…as these are a pain to add with most desktop/notebook programs, even knowing the shortcuts.

When I watch StaffPad’s videos of people collaborating on a composition to be played moments later via a WebCam connection with StaffPad, I feel the frustration that process would actually take (the first time, it would be fun. The second time…give me Finale or Notion…or MuseScore, or Sibelius, or Dorico…)

So, please be aware of my bias. That said, I realize there are a lot of people–music educators included–whose minds melt with any notation software, and handwritten solutions may be the only solution that works for them.

As a result, we have six solutions for iOS (with more on the way), all that work. The latest of these is Compoze Leadsheets, which is coming from a freemium approach. You get three lead sheets for free’ additional lead sheets cost most, and unlimited lead sheets cost $50. The program works like many others, with some very good integration (so far) of repeats and multiple endings. Other features, including export, are coming in the future…some included with the unlimited version.

My advice? Download it and try it, as you start for free. It works well, and if you haven’t tried handwriting notation, it is worth a shot (no Apple Pencil needed). That said, the program itself isn’t of much benefit to me as I need–from Day 1–the ability to have lyrics and to be able to import or export via MusicXML.

I also struggle with the idea notation apps that are in the $50 range or are subscription based, particularly when there are apps like Notion, where the base app, and all possible in-app purchases are $50 (this gets you a rather extensive sound library AND handwriting in Notion). I’m not against people making money…but $50 apps and subscription models (particularly those without an education version) are a very tough sell for schools.

If you download Compoze Leadsheets, you should also try some of the other handwriting apps, such as NotateMe Now (also free). In 2013-2014, I used NotateMe to have my students compose short compositions in class, and that was a successful unit. There are better solutions in 2017, such as the education versions of web based apps like Noteflight and Flat.io. I am particularly interested in trying Flat.io’s new assignment feature.

I also want to make it very clear that Compoze Leadsheets is BRAND NEW on the App Store–and it should be given some time to mature. As I mentioned, download it, and see what you think. Check in occasionally to see what they add.