The Ultimate Android App Guide for Musicians

With the “smartphone era” came a great thing for musicians: the mobile tools for composing and playing music on a pocket size instrument with the practicality of touch interfaces. We hear so much about apps for iOS around music composition, notation, and live playing, made by the biggest and famous musical software and hardware companies — but what about Android? Though many of them didn’t look at us, some developers did, and have made powerful and useful weapons that every musician with an Android phone should have, covering everything from simple on-the-go notations to a full sequencer in your hands.

Join in me in this Roundup with the most awesome tools for musical notation, composition and learning, for Android.

Learning

Chord!

Chord!

Chord!

Chord! is a chord dictionary for Guitar, Bass and Ukulele. It is a universal tool for learning and tuning your instruments, and gives you diagrams for the chord you want to know, letting you hear how it sounds by simply touching on the chord spot on the diagram.
Also, with its huge database, you can search for chords and create your own ones. It has support for left handed musicians.

Price: €1.99 but has a free version.
Requires: Android 1.6 or higher.
Market Link: Chord!
Developer: RabugenTom

MusicTutor SightRead

MusicTutor SightRead

MusicTutor SightRead

This app is probably the best one for beginners; it teaches you the basics of notation through a very intuitive interface. Basically it has four modes: Play, Learn, Read, and Write.

Play lets you play a piano keyboard, with three octaves in vertical and two in horizontal, and support for multi-touch if supported by the device. In Learn, you can study the positions of notes in a live staff, and play the note on the keyboard. The Read mode is the one you will use to practice; it is almost the same as the Learn mode, but this time, the notes will not be highlighted on the keyboard, and if you fail, an annoying sound will play telling that you’re wrong, and should try again. (This is the only mode available in the free version.) In Write the app asks you random notes, and you have to answer by placing the note on the staff — the opposite of the Read mode.

Price: €1.80 but has a free version.
Requires: Android 2.1 or higher.
Market Link: MusicTutor SightRead
Developer: VirtualCode.es

My Piano Assistant

My Piano Assistant

My Piano Assistant

My Piano Assistant is simple gets straight to the point. It has two main functions: one shows the chords or scales of the piano, and the other plays the progression of the same. It is designed for pianists and keyboardists, but certainly will help a lot with anyone wanting to learn to play any instruments, as the piano is the universal instrument preparation for any other.

The app is free; its UI is not so polished, but it does what it is supposed to do, with simplicity. If you don’t want to pay for any other app shown in this roundup, you must download this, it becomes really handy when composing.

Price: Free
Requires: Android 1.5 or higher.
Market Link: My Piano Assistant
Developer: Alexander++

Composition

Uloops Studio

Uloops Studio

Uloops Studio Pro and Lite

This app is a must have for any musician, it is a sequencer with a lot of the features of any DAW in a desktop, along with some social features, like sharing your songs with other composers. It uses data connection to download the samples used on your songs and upload them to their servers.

The features list is really huge, and you can see it in the Android Market, but I’ll talk about the basics. It has a piano roll, a recorder, effects you can add to any loop or channel, and a huge library of instruments you can use. The Lite version has all the functionality of the Pro, but in the Pro you got more instruments and effects to use in your songs. The price for the Pro might sound a bit expensive, but it’s worth every cent.

Price: $9.99 for Pro and Free for Lite.
Requires: Android 1.5 or higher.
Market Link: Uloops Studio Pro and Lite.
Developer: Uloops labs

Chordbot

Chordbot

Chordbot

With a minimalist and beautiful UI, this simple app is one of the best allies you will find for your mobile. This is a simple chord sequencer that you can choose the chord root, type and duration, and add more chords to create a whole song, using the styles presets, going through arpeggios and sequences with a bunch of different instruments (all quality samples made in real time using the Chris Collins excellent General User GS soundfont).

It comes with a few songs to which you can listen, and has some features such as exporting to MIDI or WAV format, and even creating a randomly generated song. This is a must have application and its worth the price. Do at least try the free version – which, as usual, has limited features.

Price: Skr32 (around $5) for Pro and Free for Lite.
Requires: Android 1.5 or higher.
Market Link: Chordbot Pro and Lite.
Developer: Contrasonic

B-Rhymes

B-Rhymes

B-Rhymes

Well, the lyrics are an important part of a song, aren’t they? With B-Rhymes and an internet connection, you can get help with the rhymes for your song. Just type the word you’re you need to rhyme with, and the app gives you a list of all the words it can find. It even gives you the pronunciation of the word, and lets you search for its definition on Dictionary.com or synonyms on Thesaurus.com, or just copy it to the clipboard. As almost every free app, it has some ads, but nothing intrusive. Sadly there’s no ad-free version.

Price: Free
Market Link: B-Rhymes
Developer: Michael Lin

Live Playing

RD3 – Groovebox

RD3 – Groovebox

RD3 – Groovebox for Phones and Tablets

As a groovebox, this app is really simple. With a really beautiful UI, it contains three main features: a mixer, an analogue bassline synthesizer, and a step sequencer drum. The synthesizer is really simple to use, has three wave forms and also has the sequencer from the beats section. The samples used in the step sequencer drum are top-quality and are well designed; each drum piece have a knob for adjusting the punch of each one. In the mixer you can set the tempo of the groove and walk through the four bars for each instrument.

It is simple, but intuitive and beautiful, and can be nicely used at live concerts, using the version for phones or tablets. It have some requirements that you should look for before buying it: at least 550mhz of CPU and a HVGA screen resolution device. It also has a free version of it with ads, no ability to save, just one drum kit (the paid version has 8 kits) and no ability to export the loop.

Price: €3.49 for the main version, €6.71 for the HD version, and Free for the Demo.
Requires: Android 2.1 or higher; 550mhz CPU; HVGA (480×320) screen resolution for the main and demo versions;
Android 2.2 or higher; 800mhz CPU; WVG (800×480) screen resolution for the HD
Market Links:
RD3 – Groovebox,
RD3 HD – Groovebox,
RD3 Demo – Groovebox.
Developer: mikrosonic

Musical Pro

Musical Pro

Musical Pro

This app is a complete tool set; it has some tools (like a Metronome, Pitch Pipe and a Tuner), three instruments (a piano, a two-octave keyboard and a four- or eight-drum pad), and a Practice Piano for beginners to learn in practice how to play some songs (the same developer has another app just for this tool, the Musical Practice Piano). It has support for multi-touch (depending on your device) and has a pack available for free at the market for HQ samples for the piano. You can record what you play, export MIDI files, and use the keyboard as a MIDI device via wireless, to use in your preferred DAW. It also has a free version with less features.

Price: $3.99 for Pro and Free for Lite.
Requires: Android 2.1 or higher for Pro and Android 1.5 or higher for Lite.
Market Links:
Musical Pro (& Piano)
Lite Musical (& Piano).
Developer: Christopher Souvey

MusicGrid

MusicGrid

MusicGrid

MusicGrid is an application with which you can have so much fun doing some experimental sounds. It’s a step sequencer inspired on ToneMatrix, and its very fun to use and create patterns for you to use in your songs. Choose from Sawtooth, Sine, Square or Triangle Wave, set the tempo, and it is ready to use. Simply touch the piano roll-like interface, and you can create your experiments.

Unfortunately, you cannot export to MP3 or WAV, but the app is free, and these features will probably come with the updates. With a little creativity you can still use it in your live concerts.

Price: Free
Requires: Android 1.5 or higher.
Market Link: MusicGrid
Developer: Andrew Brampton

Tools

TouchDAW

TouchDAW

TouchDAW

TouchDAW is one of the best music tools you will find in the Android Market. It is a simple MIDI controller and keyboard, with many tools to use. This is my favorite app in the whole Market, and even the free version is pretty complete and useful.

It has support for a lot of the most popular DAW for you computer, like Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, and FL Studio. No other controller on the Market is as complete as this one. The tools include a Mixer, an 8-knob pannel, a Keyboard, Y-X Pads, and other features such as letting you use the device accelerometer as a sensor; all of these are wrapped in a gorgeous UI, simple and straight to the point.

The developer wrote a great documentation page with all of the features explained and even how to connect the app with your DAW on a PC or MAC via Wi-Fi. If you opt for the paid version, you will have the support for recording, saving, automating and other features.

Price: €3.49 but has a free version.
Requires: Android 2.1 or higher.
Market Link: TouchDAW
Developer: humatic

Droid DJ

Droid DJ

Droid DJ

DJs also have their chance on Android — and even if you’re just an enthusiast, you can practice DJing with this app. It gives you two decks, where you can load the songs from your list in your music player or from your SD Card, and then just have fun with three effects – Speed, Pitch and Fast Stop – and crossfading the songs with the crossfader. You can also fade the songs with a visual mixer, and change the pan of the song in the mixer.

The app has skins support, which you can change to low resolution ones so the mixer can do its job faster (a great feature for low- and mid-end devices). At the moment, the Lite version has all the features of the full version, except the second deck has just one effect.

Price: £2.99 for the Full version and Free for the Lite one.
Requires: Android 1.6 or higher.
Market Link: Droid DJ and Droid DJ Lite.
Developer: Spartacus Rex

Mobile Metronome

Mobile Metronome

Mobile Metronome

Other apps in this roundup have a built-in metronome function. But if you, for some reason, don’t want or don’t need the other apps, but just a metronome, Mobile Metronome is a great alternative. The application has all the main functions of any real metronome: select the tempo, the time signature, the click sound, and that’s it! You’re ready to practice with this metronome.

Optionally, you can buy the pro version of it, which is ad-free, but the ads in the free version are not intrusive.

Price: Free but has an ad-free version for $1.50
Requires: Android 1.5 or higher.
Market Link: Mobile Metronome
Developer: Gabriel Simões

Conclusion

Whether a musician, an enthusiast, or just a music lover, there are many valid options for you on the Android Market to listen to your favorite music or compose some of your own.

Even though it’s missing some professional apps that can be found in the iOS App Store, the Android Market has some great options, and hopefully, with the new generation of Android Tablets, the biggest developers should give more attention to the Android OS, and give us more options to look for. Still, for now, we have almost all we need right in our hands.


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  • http://gabrielsimoes.blogspot.com Gabriel Simões

    It´s nice to read good reviews of mobile metronome. This is something that makes me think about going back to the app and rework its UI and add as much features as I can.
    Also, please find some time to check Audio Speed Changer: a tool for audio time stretching and in just some time pitch shifting also.

    • http://www.cdettmar.com Caio Dettmar

      Thank you :D
      I wasn’t expecting a developer drop by here, but I’m glad you’re here hahaha
      I’ll check the app, and if I find it interesting, I’ll check with my editor if I have some place to put it in :)
      Cheers!

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  • saxman

    One to add which was just updated “iReal b” the “Real Book” app. It’s the only app I’ve purchased since being on Android for more than a year. It’s like Band In a Box on your phone. Really easy to download songs — lots of jazz standards, but also many other styles pop, rock etc…and you can create/add your own — the best 9.99 I’ve spent in awhile!!!

    • http://www.davidahrens.us/SoundEducation David Ahrens

      I recently downloaded “iReal b” and it is truly incredible. I will be using and recommending this app a lot! Great practice exercises and easy to download standards from the website. No melody lead sheets – only chords. But still worth it. You can input your own songs or modify existing ones. Very well designed app.

  • http://wu reed

    coopration from huawei device company,Inviting you to cooperate with Huawei mobile device

  • rajiv kar

    I would like to feel your software

  • Jon

    Caustic (fav), Spc, Electrum Drum, G-stomper & Reloop (another fav) are some great apps also. For fun there’s Nodebeat, Draw Music, Pulsate. For piano, xpiano rocks. It’s not as polished or responsive as the other piano apps out there, but you can download songs, and play them in the learning mode, or export your own creations. Most of these apps have free versions or demo’s available, which is a plus. Actually I just bought reloop today because it was on sale for 2 bucks.

  • Eugene

    Hi there, this is a very helpfull article. Do you know of an app that will display my music so i can use my android tablet on a music stand. There is a app for ipad called “usb disk pro” that navigate easily but it is not availible for android. You help will be highly appreciated. Thank you

    • Ken Hanner

      MobileSheets

      I work 5+ hours a day 7 days a week gigging using this app. The developer is very quick with his responses.

      If you have the time/disk space, I would recommend splicing the Real Books in to individual pages instead of a huge(well, for a PDF) PDF file.

      Actually, I am VERY surprised this app is not listed here. For a gigging musician, MobileSheets is a MUST HAVE. Check the free version, but you may as well just buy the full app, best 5 bucks I’ve spent since on my career, ever.

  • lxq

    ActPiano is strongly recommended for piano and score learning. The App converts midi file to sheet music, and you can play it note by note. This is unique among numerous android piano apps.

  • https://market.android.com/details?id=music.transposer.omega Matt

    I’m new to developing apps but have been using ReLoop and Electrum for a while. Also as for music players I really like the beginning concepts of Party Mixer for crossfading and live djing from a phone, but the developer seems to be AWOL on this app. If you’ve got a moment I’d appreciate your thoughts on my first app. Link is my URL. I built it for simple key transposition of guitar chord shapes when using a capo. What’s your best tuner suggestion? I’ve always loved gStrings. Would love to see a follow-up article as I think the platform and market has greatly expanded.

  • pepstur

    Hi, I’m new to the Android game, I know it’s late in the day but I was wondering if the fees are a one time fee or a monthly fee. Anyone know for sure?
    Tks,
    pepstur

    • http://michaeljameswilliams.com/ Michael James Williams

      What fees?

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  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.aemobile Dave

    You should try out the multitrack audio app Audio Evolution Mobile too. It has editing, mixing, effects etc. like on many desktop programs (Cubase, Logic, etc.). Both a demo and full version are on Google Play.

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.holidaystudios.satan Anton P

    Hi,

    I was wondering – have you tried this:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.holidaystudios.satan

    ?

  • tom

    what android app would be the closest to Scale Buddy??

    thanks.

  • Real musician

    I’m not so sure these are for musicians so much as wannabe rappers. Not that there aren’t rappers who are artist and respect music and musicians, I just don’t think they’re the same ones who use Uloop. What a disappointingly misleading title. Also, since when is a synthesized bass and a drum track composing? I must look stupid dedicating my life to learning this shit…

    • spynode

      I am not saying that these apps are professional grade, but are You really implying
      that Aphex Twin or Boards of Canada are “wannabe” rappers? Composing
      music using synthesized sounds is still composing. Plus it adds a layer
      of sound engineering, which makes it even more complex. Just trying to
      get Your point and really can’t.

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.phellax.drum John

    Hi,

    I think that you have forgotten the best drum app on Market: DrumKit. I really enjoy it and I’d like to share it with other musicians. App is here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.phellax.drum

  • Phil

    MikroWave looks a tad crude, but the sounds and interface work well on my Galaxy phone, allowing you to quickly develop an idea which you can work on later using your real/other DAW. It has a neat save function for storing multiple idaes. For those interested:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.igorski.mikrowave&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsIm5sLmlnb3Jza2kubWlrcm93YXZlIl0

  • http://gsalvadi.in/ Gokul Salvadi

    That’s cool. I would like add one to list. iShala

    http://gmizk.blogspot.in/2012/05/ishala-for-free.html

  • Ajay

    Hey, I was wondering if there’s a good music notation app. I’ve been wanting to find one for my tablet so I can quickly write down new works when I don’t have my music pad with me. Thanks.

  • http://davebren.com David

    There is a new app for sight reading that’s a lot better than the one here.
    http://bit.ly/OK01kf

    • http://michaeljameswilliams.com/ Michael James Williams

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Declan Coghn

    I recently changed over from Apple to android

    I used to use “SampleTank” which is brilliant

    Does any know of an android app that can connect up with a midi controller keyboard

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  • sean

    Caustic 2 is one of the best virtual rackmount synths I have ever used. The drum machines and fx alone are indispensable tools.

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  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Dan+Miller-Schroeder Dan

    I just released Song Key Finder, which gives you the key of audio you play into your phone’s mic. Just trying to get the word out to the other musicians!

  • Erik Fros

    I’m surprised that Piano Companion is not there. It has chords/scales search, circle of 5ths, chord sequencer!
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.binitex.pianocompanion

  • Gary

    TouchDAW is fantastic. The mixer emulates a Mackie Control 1 surface. Humanic support via their website is excellent. Best $5 I ever spent!

  • http://pooper.com Al

    I have almost all of these
    This is a great list
    Thanks!

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blogspot.zelplay.cge Anselme LEBRUN

    I wanted an application that would automatically play a cool backtrack based on a simple song chord grid. So, I would be able to practice improvisation easily.
    I did not find any application that did that.

    So I decided to develop one : This is “JamGrid”

    The application is totally free. And I think it is cool.

  • Adam

    These apps are nothing comparing to Music Studio & FL Studio on the iDevices :/
    Btw , FL Studio will be released for android soon , not that soon however .

  • Stefan

    Hi Caio,

    Please check out BandFriend, an app to connect local musicians for free. It’s pretty new but looks awesome and already got thousands of users.

    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.touchbee.bandfriend

    It’s also available for the iPhone.

    Thanks!
    Stefan

  • Leo

    How about an app thats acually USEFUL in a live situation?? Like as simple as a sample player?? It could have 3 or 4 big buttons to asign any FX (like a noise, a vocal scat, a percussion sound, claps, etc..) in wav or mp3 in your pocket ready to plug them into the mixer.

  • RJ M

    As a musician I would like and app that I can use for practicing and performing. I would like it to display song lists that I enter in any order I like and could subgroup into sets. Each song would have the tempo entered also so if I wanted I could turn on built in metronome with selectable visual or audible click. Each song could be chosen and displayed individually also, and could display chart scanned in, tablature entered or scanned in, custom user notes entered etc. Each song could have an actual audio recording of it loaded if desired and be able to easily play song for rehearsal etc. I would like to quickly be able to bring up a song in the list and see a chart of it or tabs, my own notes, tempo and activate metronome with that memorized tempo associated with song, play song through device etc.

  • Tusen Miljarder

    I found this site while looking for reviews on metronome app for android, and thought I should share my own findings. I have been using Mobile Metronome for a while but always envied my iPhone friends with their cool (crazy?) looking apps. Today I found a good looking metronome app for android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jeopeo.musiciansmetronome. Maybe I should get a T-shirt for being one of the first to download the app :)

    I will keep the Mobile Metronome app for backup, but so far I really like this new Groove Metronome

    • oscar

      hah thx Tusen.

      Im gonna keep that one. Simple metronome but with grooves and good features. I love that i can adjust swingrate on the “swingride-groove”. makes the fast swingride much more human.

      I also like that i can play all grovves in like any timesignature. btter to practise like 7/8 or 11/16 to an actual groove, not just a metronome going tic tac tac tac tac….

  • Tweeky99

    ‘Music Theory – Chords in Keys’ is a great little app. It’s all about learning which chords are in which keys. Simple but very useful: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_kissmyaxe.MusicTheoryChordsInKeys

  • Ancient Mariner

    I’m a lover of (player of) Irish/Scots/English traditional music (trad), and for us, TunePal, which is free in your Google store, is the way to go. It recognizes tunes playing at the session, it stores your tune list, you can call up the tune you are thinking of for reference either in notation form or ABC or as a midi, and the latest update allows you to vary the playback speed for tune learning, or the pitch if you are not a natural transposer. I was looking for something like ScoreCleaner Notes for Android… if anyone finds that kind of app (play the tune and it renders it in notation), please leave a post here, OK? Bless you all, and may your music bring you constant joy.

  • Studio Musician

    These are not apps for musicians. These are apps for people wanting to be musicians, or trying to be. I don’t need music tutor sight read or ‘chord’, or help with rhyming words? What am I 11? The title is misleading.
    I was expecting great tuner apps or a metronome. However the piano one is decent.
    Re name the article and it should help as to not mislead people.

    • http://www.symbian-guru.com khouryrt

      Do you have any suggestions for good apps? Maybe you can add them here in the comments.

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