Android devices are often overlooked as tools for musical production. While the selection of suitable apps lacks some of the diversity and big names present in the iOS App Store, there are still ample ways to translate your musical thoughts to reality.
In this roundup, I’m going to highlight some of the best ways to turn your Android into something of a music mate. The apps aren’t all solely for composing, but will provide musical assistance where required and all will fit perfectly on any musician’s device.
This first app is a great way to use the art of sampling to make beats and sometimes even full songs. You can preview samples while the drum machine is playing, which can be helpful when experimenting with new ideas. The app also features real time playback and editing which lifts the burden of having to wait for sound to render before hearing any modifications.
One great feature is the ability to save and load your own custom drumkits that you can assign to each pad. Plus, you can use your own WAV samples from an SD card, which maximises the creative potential. As a live performance tool or an independent composition tool, this is a great way to get the creativity flowing.
Audiotool Sketch enables you to sequence sounds using three different digitizations of popular tools, such as drum machines. This allows you to compose more complex and intricate pieces using multiple ways of sampling. Like in many DAWs, you have the ability to sequence the individual patterns, much like you would with loops in order to create a whole track.
You can add delay or reverb or change the tempo in real time whilst playing around with the patterns in the Overview mode. Each individual device includes the full range of parameters that you would find on the original, which allows for full creative control over the sounds. I personally recommend running this on a tablet, but it’s possible to run on some smartphones as well.
Like a few of the apps in this roundup, PocketBand allows you to sequence loops in order to make a track. However, you can also use synths, drums, samplers, audio recordings, analog modulators and arpeggiators to go into detail when making your music.
You have the ability to apply Fx to channels and export to mp3 or ringtone format. The app allows you to publish, play and collaborate in their community, so you can get feedback on your creations too, an essential part of any songwriters musical process.
This is one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing. Like the name suggests, Chordbot Pro allows you to play chord progressions that can be super simple or incredibly complex.
This is a great experimental medium that allows you to test ideas for new creations. It’s one of the more essential apps; whatever ideas you may experiment with on the other applications should probably begin here.
This feature-rich synthesiser will keep you occupied for hours. Combining a simple sequencer with tons of little extras such as sound design capabilities, this app will appeal to all skill levels.
I’ve found that this is the best option for people who have no previous experience in musical composition, as its easy-to-use navigation and sequencer allow for even the most inexperienced to express their musical ideas. The touch controls work well on a smaller device compared to some other apps that are designed primarily for tablets.
Another pattern-based sequencer, this app packs in a lot of power. There are many different options and tools featured in this software that make for the most complete virtual studio environment seen so far on Android.
SunVox incorporates some Tracker software, which will certainly set it apart from other apps. There is also support for WAV, AIFF andXI sample, so anything you have on an SD card can be used as well. This is the software most on par with proper DAWs in my opinion.
Solo is an excellent virtual guitar with a whole barrel of features inside. You can choose from a classical guitar, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, each with their own realistic sound. There’s a large chord library with chord diagrams that I found particularly useful; if you can’t deduce the chord by ear, simply look at the diagram to see where your fingers should be.
For the creative musician, you also have the ability to create your own chord, which could be proper chords with variations on them or entirely new chords altogether (although I can’t promise they’ll sound great). The app has the personal touch of allowing you to play along to any music loaded on your device. You can use capos, change the UI, save chords – there are just so many awesome features!
Last but certainly not least, SPC is a fully-featured audio workstation that allows you to mix and record your own tracks. The app’s main display is that of a 16-pad multi-touch main screen which is the starting point for most tracks. Once you have an idea, you can program your own sequences and drum grooves by setting steps and notes.
The app is also great for use as a live performance tool; you can set the pads to play along to the music in many different ways as well as being able to mix up the track in real time. Your own WAV files can also be imported too, as with many of the apps featured here.
As you can see, Android devices have untapped potential when it comes to composing and arranging music, so I advise any music enthusiast to give a few of these apps a go — you won’t be disappointed!