‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the season! For lists. Lots of lists. People seem to have a love/hate relationship with the top ten roundups that emerge towards the end of the year, but I find them interesting, and sometimes learn about things that I missed (or possibly forgot about) during the past twelve months. Inspired by Frank’s secret santa list, I thought I would put together a selection of iPhone apps—in no particular order—that have made their way into my musical life this year, to inspire those of you who may find iTunes gift cards in your stockings. As a lifelong devotee of all things Apple, I can only speak to that format, so I hope that users of Blackberrys, Androids, and other smartphones out there will add their own favorites in the comments.

RjDj by Reality Jockey—Free


This is a wonderful app to use while out and about in the world. Put on your earbuds, load one of the “scenes” that come bundled with the app, and let your surroundings, as well as your own voice and gestures influence the music. The results are different every time, and you can record and share your sound experiences. A must for frequent subway riders! Your noisy commute will never be the same.

Pianist by MooCow Music—$3.99


There are lots of piano apps available, but I really like this one because the sound is pretty darn good, and the navigation is user-friendly. It’s a great tool for figuring out that chord or melody that popped into your head while out and about sans computer, or for quickly checking pitches while proofreading a score. It also sports a metronome, zoomable keys, and multitrack recording.

Reactable Mobile by Reactable Systems—$9.99


I couldn’t be happier that the gang at Reactable Systems have created a mobile version of the Reactable, an amazingly fun, creative, and flexible live performance instrument. The app provides a virtual space upon which one places objects such as oscillators, filters, and controllers that can then be moved around the screen and connected in different configurations, like a synthesizer jigsaw puzzle. Sound processing module parameters can be changed by rotating them and through multi-touch gestures. The audio quality is excellent, and there is support for sampling and file sharing. Taking a peek at the online manual is important, as this app has a bit of a learning curve. Although the price tag seems high, it is worth noting that the real-life Reactable sells for over $10,000 (!!!), so relatively speaking, this is a pretty good deal. iPad owners may get even more bang out of this app due to the extra screen real estate, delivering more space for moving and twisting sound objects.

Tempi Metronome by Employee Five Systems—$0.99


This is a fabulous metronome that a friend turned me on to—it sounds great (there’s nothing worse than an annoying metronome sound!) and allows the user to do business in BPM or “real” metronome markings. It also sports a tap function that lets you tap in a tempo, and it will tell you the BPM. Spiffy!




RTA by Studio Six Digital—$10.99


This app is—you guessed it—a real time analyzer that can be used for testing speakers, tuning a room, performing acoustical analysis work, etc. I have found it extremely useful during sound checks before concerts to help tweak the live mix. It’s not cheap, and for those who would prefer to use that holiday iTunes gift card on other treats, there is a free version of this app as well, RTA Lite. Studio Six Digital has also recently released an app called AudioTools that bundles RTA together with a number of other audio and acoustics apps for $19.99.

Happy Holidays!

NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season

  1. Alexandra Gardner

    An idea for next year
    @arssubtilior – awwww, sorry I didn’t respond to this in a timely manner. You might try getting a communication to Santa through these folks! Maybe put in an early request for the 2011 holiday?


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