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BlackBerry Apps for Aspiring Musicians

By Ryan Blundell on 25 May 2010 09:06 am EDT
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The kind of music you listen to can help define who you are. Have you ever given a mix tape (am I dating myself?) of your favourite tunes to a potential love interest? What about putting together a playlist for your great road trip? I’m sure you have. Judge me if you will - when I was younger, I used to spend a lot of time figuring out my mixes; where to put each song, what cover I should use etc. It is a glimpse into your mind, allowing others to see the world as you see it. Now for some, listening to music is enough self expression. For others, they want to live in it; they want to make music.

These days, it isn’t enough to tote around your guitar or drum sticks. You’re going to need more ammo than that. While you tote your music filled BlackBerry with you, you might as well add some BlackBerry applications to the mix. Yes, there are applications out there to even help you live your dream. This collection may not guarantee that you’ll win a Grammy, or a Juno, but it should put you on the right path. 1…2…1,2,3,4!

You will notice that I steered clear of Radio apps. I have nothing against them (all 200ish of them), I just wanted to focus on applications that help users access, practice and create the music that they love.

Warming Up

Check, check one, check one two. Before you get started on your outstanding opus, you need to practice, practice, practice. That means developing calluses on your finger tips, destroying your vocal chords and blowing your ear drums. Take yet another step backwards and you realize you don’t even know how to play. No problem.

Download the Guitar Trainer game. Well, it’s more of a guide than a game actually. By playing along, you’ll learn to master virtually any stringed instrument. You can adjust settings for righties or southpaws, as well as select the string tuning. The application offers different modes to choose from - training mode, game mode and a simple tuner. Guitar Trainer is available in a free demo and a full version for $4.99.

You have now graduated and are ready to rock. You just need to make sure you are tuned up. An off key performance can turn your love ballad into the theme song for a slasher flick. The Mobile Chromatic Instrument Tuner application will make sure you stay in tune. It records the tone being played and applies algorithms to figure out the fundamental sound frequency. The application can also play tones, as well, to help you tune. The Mobile Chromatic Instrument Tuner is available for $4.99.

Can’t remember which is the Bass Clef? Confused about consonance and dissonance? The Music Notation and Terminology application is an in-depth data base of musical theory. You’ll gain an understanding in major and minor keys, intervals, acoustics and more. Music Notation and Terminology is available for $4.99.

Guitar Studio offers many different features. The application supports both Tab and ChordPro music files and allows you to see your music progress via the automatic scroll feature. For support, users can highlight and learn to play various chords. Portions of music files can be looped to help you work on areas of difficulty. To capture your break through tune, you can create and edit lyrics, tabs and chords, as well as record yourself performing. Guitar Studio is available for $9.99.

Looking for Inspiration

Now you have the daunting task of putting your vision to music. Drawing a blank, aren’t you? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. You just need to spark creativity.

The music you hear may drive you to create something of your own. Walking past a store or a parked car with music playing may catch your attention. Shazam helps you discover what has made its way into your ear. Start up the application and in moments you will see information that includes the name of the artist and track. You also have access to charts, reviews, history, watch related YouTube videos and see tracks that are available for purchase. Shazam is available in both a free and encore version for $4.99.

Melody Maker allows you to create melodies right on your BlackBerry. With various scales, chords and modes at your fingertips, you can compose and play your creations. Sometimes, all it takes is a 3 second jingle to develop into a memorable song. Melody Maker also saves your recordings, so you won’t forget. Melody Maker is available for $19.99.

Share

By this point you should have recorded a few cover songs and perhaps some compositions of your own, as well. Now it’s time to share them. Oh, did you forget your guitar? That’s okay, you have your BlackBerry!

With Didiom Pro, you can easily search through all of your media files located on your computer, right from your BlackBerry. You can then stream your songs and playlists for everyone to hear. You are also able to download these files, without having to connect to your computer. The application itself is free, but you are required to sign up for an account. The free account lets you stream five tracks, where as a premium account gives you full access and previously mentioned playlist streaming and downloading capabilities. A premium account costs $9.99 annually.

Another option is to use the MusicNAO application. If you have a NAO music system, the application will transmit songs found on your BlackBerry via WiFi. You can manage your songs just as you would with your native media application. You can also use PodNAO to control your songs and playlists of your NAO docked iPhone or iPod. Both applications are free.

So there you have it. If you make it big, I expect back stage passes to each of your concerts as payment. Perhaps you will fulfill your dream where I have not. Sniff, sorry, just getting emotional over here. Are you using any other applications to help you catch your big break? Let us know and leave a comment.

Reader comments

BlackBerry Apps for Aspiring Musicians

15 Comments

Just more of the long-standing illusion that ANYBODY can be a great musician. Apps won't do it, it takes years of dedication and much effort.

Although the tuner looks interesting...

Everyone CAN and SHOULD try to make music. As anyone can and should express their views in this comments area. Some comments are drivel and some are well crafted, but none have the effect of excluding others from expressing their own views, same with music. If it takes a game, guide, app, whatever to get someone to try to put together a few phrases, thats great in itself. At worst someone will walk away with the insight that some folks have more talent in that area than others.

You are both right. It takes a special breed of person with special talent to become an amazing musician. However, everyone can (and should) learn to play an instrument. It takes a lot of hard work, and some are more gifted than others, but it is possible. Can anyone become Slash or Jack White or Dave Grohl? I don't think so. Those people have a little extra. Can anyone learn enough to sit around a camp fire and play 10 or 15 songs? Absolutely.

Hey you using that calculator for math. If you can't do math in your head you shouldn't be allowed to do it at all...

... since there are unfortunately not many music apps for Blackberry. Would love to see a proper metronome app for starters.

Will definitely have to check out this tuner; I hadn't heard about it before.

I have the Guitar Trainer app. As simple as it is, you really do get to learn and memorize where every single note is on the fretboard. This becomes incredibly handy when it comes to learning and applying music theory... which at the end of the day, will make you sound that much better because you'll actually know what every note is and why you're playing that note.

Just make sure to note that the Instrument Tuner only works on GSM Berries - CDMA BB's don't have the hardware to analyze sounds.

Really? I thought that the only difference is the mobile radio / frequencies. Very sucky...

What about world phones that support CDMA *AND* GSM, like the Tour, Storm, etc?

I've had guitarstudio since it was in Beta; pretty much the best app for guitarists of any of the above, unless you don't use tabs.

in which I get jealous of iphone users. The music apps on the iphone are amazing. Hopefully OS6 will allow for those types of apps to be brought over to the BB.

As a musician myself (trumpet player) I'm in favor of more good music apps.
I tried the Metronome app for BB (which is not mentioned in this list) but it didn't pass my standards. Those programs used to word better on Nokia and Windows Mobile.
I will definitely try the Tuner mentioned here. Too bad there is no trial.
But the thing I noticed most with BB is the bad microphone recording quality. My previous two phones (Nokia E61 and E71) made great audio recordings (also when making video). This was very handy when making a practice recording of a rehearsal. My current phone (BB Bold 9000) has a far worse microphone because the sound is distorted. An app for recording with a microphone sensitive setting could be a great help here!

The one app I really need is a Chromatic Instrument Tuner on my CDMA Blackberry Storm 2. I want to be the first in line to get it as soon as someone makes it.

Another wonderfully useful app I seen in the app store that they did not mention is a Piano Chord Finder. It displays a piano keyboard and you type in any chord and it shows you the voicing PLUS it has all the Inversions too! That is a must for anyone taking music theory and harmony courses who isn't really a keyboard player.