Ahhh spring! It may have been the mildest of winters in Media Mine's Northeastern base camp, but the cherry blossoms and birdsong were still welcome signs that new possibilities are at hand.
Mobile apps seem to be blooming as well, especially those targeted at making music. We've been making tracks with harmonicdog's MultiTrack DAW 3.1.4 for iOS, which (depending on your hardware) lets you record and play back up to eight simultaneous tracks on an iPad, comes with basic editing, EQ, delay, and reverb plug-ins, and can upload mixes directly to Sound- Cloud or save them in .Wav and compressed audio formats. Not bad for around 10 bucks!
Agile Partners' GuitarToolkit (agilepartners.com) is a cool little reference/practice tool that lets you see and hear a range of scales, chords, and arpeggios (displayed on a strummable virtual fingerboard). It also has a tuner and metronome. A "plus" version costs $4.99 extra and adds custom instruments, printable chord sheets, and a fancy custom metronome.
Audiofile Engineering's FiRe 2 Field Recorder ($5.99; audiofile-engineering.com) is a handy sketchpad that lets you capture audio, play it back at a number of speeds, edit, add effects, and export it in several formats. More important, you can tag your recordings with enough information to actually keep track of your ideas. The app even lets you upload your work to your iTunes and Dropbox accounts or to an FTP
Paragoni's Songwriter's Pad (paragoni.com) is designed to break songwriter's block by helping you organize lyrics, find words, phrases and rhymes, and keep track of (and access) your ideas. Try the a free LE app before upgrading to the $9.99 full version (which adds audio support).
Speaking of tracking ideas: Though not specifically intended for musicians, Evernote (evernote.com), just released version 4.1.9, which is optimized for iPad 3. The free version lets you save text, audio, images, and web pages, and access them online on your mobile device or computer. There are literally dozens of available addins, as well as premium monthly and annual subscription options that let you access your notes offline, transfer large amounts of data, and more.
Android apps tend to serve listeners more than players and composers, but we did manage to dig up the Hi-Q MP3 Recorder, which lets you record MP3s directly into the phone, store them on your SD card, and share them via email. Try the free "Lite" edtion before shelling out for the $3.99 full version.
Before we close the mine for the remainder of the spring, we thought about how nice it would be to disconnect from WiFi and however many Gs our data plan offers and grab some potential summer reading. The updated revised edition of Exit Music: The Radiohead Story (Hal Leonard) by veteran journalist Mac Randall covers one of the most important artists of our era in tight, well-researched prose. Just the thing to pass the time as the old iPad/Phone/Pod/ Spacecapsule's battery recharges.