Your iPhone, The Musical Instrument

More than a media player and much more than just a phone, the iPhone and iPod Touch is handy for many different interests. Music Developers out there already had the idea of using an iPhone as an instrument for a while now and there’s a lot they’ve come up with.

You may not know this, but there’s actually a ton of apps out there for music making purposes.

Whether real or wacky, there’s different iPhone instruments for different tastes. Although using the iPhone as an instrument is a bit tricky, it is small and has a limited surface but with the touch screen and a little creativity, there’s a lot you can do. Many instruments incorporate the microphone as an additional input. Using the microphone as a modulation source, not for sound but for controlling data. You can manipulate the sound by blowing or speaking into it. Other instruments use the touch screen’s input or speed of the input to modulate the sound, like the keys on a piano or frets on a guitar.

Seven noteworthy iPhone / iPod Touch musical instrument apps:

DigiDrummer: Fingertap your way into a beat with Magnus Larsson’s DigiDrummer – a portable drum machine app. Featuring 8 low latency pads with 29 different drumsets and a custom kit option where you can create your own kit from 200 sounds. Save your beats and share them with other DigiDrummer users over Bluetooth. The only downside is the inability to import your own samples in as drum sounds. There’s also a free DigiDrummer Lite version to try out.

Ocarina: Smule’s incredibly popular Ocarina turns your iPhone into a portable wind instrument. You play Ocarina by blowing into the microphone and touching the screen to change the pitch. Tilt the iPhone to change vibrato rate and depth. Advanced users can change keys and modes. Listen to and share your Ocarina with other users if you want. If you’re interested in playing popular songs, visit Ocarina’s website for the user posted scores.

Pianist: MooCowMusic’s Pianist is a virtual piano scratchpad, allowing you to compose anywhere. Pianist allows you to record, save and overdub your work, removing unwanted notes. With a full 88 key, zoomable piano keyboard that displays between one and two octaves at a time or a dual keyboard layout which gives you four octaves at a time. Includes a built in metronome to keep you on time.

Bebot – Robot Synth: Normalware’s Bebot is a unique synthesizer personified as an animated robot. Synth features include four different synthesis modes, delay and looping, analog sounding filters with four note multiple finger polyphony. Bebot also features a wide range of sounds and is fun to play with. Pro Synth: Professionals out there will want to take a look at Amidio Inc’s Noise IO. Fully customizable, high quality synthesis featuring 15 Waveforms, 5 Filters, Pitch Sequencer, Trance Gate, 6 Effects, Exporting sounds to .WAV, Preset saving and sharing, Creating loops and exporting them to Intua’s Beatmaker. You can demo this powerful synth by downloading the free LE.

Band: Featured by Steve Jobs during the WWDC 2008 keynote, MooCowMusic’s Band lets you create your own music from scratch using the supplied instruments. Band lets you record, overdub, mix together and save tracks. Instruments are designed for the touch screen with up to 5 notes playable in real time.

Thereminator: Create all your vintage sci-fi sounds with the six and a half octave range of Yonac’s Thereminator. Including echo and tremolo effects, a portamento algorithm for quick hand movements, and a zoom function for fine pitch control. Not just touch aware, you can also activate the accelerometer and control pitch and volume by waving around your iPhone.

There’s much more out there!

While researching for this article, one thing I came across is that these seven apps are by no means the only ones out there. I came across so many of them, the amount is simply amazing. If there’s a musical instrument app out there that you use or highly recommend, by all means let everyone know in the comments.

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