It’s great that there are so many accessible music related tools for people to use on the go. There have been so many times when I’ve been waiting around in public and was able to pull out my phone and write a few lines for a new song right as the inspiration hit. Sure, there are tons of apps for music production, songwriting, lyrics, and things like that, which is great, but what about tools for musicians? Here are the seven best Android apps for musicians.
1. Ultimate Guitar: Chords & Tabs by Ultimate Guitar USA LLC
You may have heard of Ultimate Guitar, and if you’re a musician maybe you’ve even used it yourself. Despite the name and the app mainly focusing on guitar and bass players, Ultimate Guitar is a great tool for every musician to have. If you’re into learning how popular songs are played, Ultimate Guitar is probably the best app for that.
Even though Ultimate Guitar has mainly guitar, bass, and ukulele tabs and chords, the guitar chord sheets they have are just as useful for someone who plays piano or another instrument.
As I’m a guitarist myself, I’m a bit biased here and think this app is great, but my whole band (including singers and some non-string instrument players) has used Ultimate Guitar to get chord sheets to cover popular songs.
The app is easy to use and navigate through. You can narrow your search down by instrument and type of sheet (tabs or chords), and there’s also an autoscroll function that you can turn on so you don’t have to keep scrolling manually as you play through the tab or chord sheet.
Accuracy ratings are shown in stars (one to five, with five being the most accurate) and you’re also able to comment on tabs/chords.
I recommend this app for anyone who is a musician, and even if you’re a singer you could use it for the lyrics. Ultimate Guitar is free to download. There’s a Pro version that you can buy that gives you some other features, like a metronome, guitar tuner, and interactive tabs.
2. The Metronome by Soundbrenner
I’ve only recently discovered The Metronome, but even if it’s just a metronome, it’s absolutely fantastic. There’s more than what meets the eye with this metronome.
The Metronome is simply that — a metronome. However, it includes a few features that give it a big improvement from other metronomes. The Metronome has tap tempo, the ability to count in a bunch of different note increments (and you can get extremely crazy with the counting), the ability to save metronome settings for specific songs, and even an area where you can load multiple songs into a set list.
Because of the set list function, this metronome is great to use while practicing, playing live with a band, or even just playing by yourself. You add the songs to the app and specify their BPM and time signature, and from there you can compile several of them into a single set list. After you load the set list, other than hitting the “next” button when you want to switch to the next song, it’s completely hands free.
Another amazing feature about The Metronome is that Soundbrenner makes vibrating watches that connect to The Metronome via Bluetooth. You can connect up to five watches to one instance of The Metronome.
As soon as you hit the button to start the metronome, the watches will give off a vibration for each beat of the metronome. This way, you can play with other people and everyone will be able to stay in time with one another. It also prevents having to use a click track.
It’s by far the best metronome app I’ve ever encountered, and I have nothing but great things to say about it. On top of all this, the app and its features are completely free.
3. Piano Chord, Scale, Progression Companion by Songtive
Piano Companion is a chord and scale dictionary for piano, but I put it on this list because I think any musician could benefit from it.
Piano Companion features a library with over 1,500 piano chords, up to 6th inversions, more than 10,000 scales, a chord progression builder with scale patterns, an interactive Circle of Fifths, support for an external MIDI keyboard, the ability to create custom chords and save them, a music staff for those of you who read music notation, and so much more.
The reason I’ve put Piano Companion on this list is because it has so many helpful music theory tools that any musician can use. Even if your main instrument is a guitar, you can use Piano Companion’s scales and chords library to study music theory and train your ear. You can also use it to practice along with the chord progression builder if you prefer not to use a full on backing track.
If you play piano, I think this app is one of the best, most flexible apps out there. The amount of tools it has for you to use is insane. If you’re a beginner who wants to jump right into the meat and potatoes of music theory on piano, this app seems to be a one-stop for anything piano theory related.
I recommend this app for piano players especially, namely intermediate to advanced players, because it’s really detailed and might get overwhelming for beginners. I also recommend it for any musicians in general who want to learn more about music theory.
Piano Companion is free but there’s also a Pro version of it that you can upgrade to for $7.
4. Vivace: Learn to Read Music by Dreamhound Studios
If you want to learn how to read music and learn music theory, Vivace is a really good app for this. Vivace teaches you the basics of music theory and more or less everything you need to know in order to read notes on the staff.
There are over 100 lessons for you to choose from and they’re categorized by clef (which include the treble clef, bass clef, the grand staff, and alto and tenor clefs). The lessons work with all 15 key signatures and the lessons are illustrated and explained step by step. Vivace has a very simple interface and the lessons are easy to follow.
Vivace is really customizable. You can choose between English and Italian note names and there’s a practice mode that allows you to combine as many clefs and key signatures as you want.
Because of the multiple modes (tutorial mode, trainer mode, and practice mode), Vivace is a good tool for anyone of any skill level. If you’re not a classically trained musician who can sight read and do all of that fancy stuff, and you want to start learning how to do that, whether it’s for fun or to open up other opportunities for yourself in the music world, I very strongly recommend this app.
Even if you’re an advanced musician who already knows music theory and how to read music, this app is still a great choice if you want to refresh your memory.
You can get Vivace for free on the Google Play Store. It does have ads but you can upgrade the app to get rid of them if they bother you.
5. Stagelight: Audio and MIDI DAW by Open Labs Music Software
Stagelight is a mobile DAW that’s similar to your average computer DAW. With Stagelight, you can record audio, compose in MIDI with a piano roll, drum sequencer, and edit audio and MIDI. It includes nine instruments including a step sequencer, a drum machine, and SampleVerse, which is a pressure-sensitive hybrid sampler and synth.
SampleVerse includes over 40 presets and three oscillators. You can also import your own samples into it. Additionally, there are seven other keyboard-based instruments: a 3-voice synthesizer, a pulse synthesizer, a set of vintage keyboards and pianos, sampled electric basses and guitars, vintage organs, and vintage orchestral sounds.
Effects included are a compressor, EQ, delay, and flanger, and you can get more with in-app purchases. Stagelight also has a special feature called LoopBuilder, which is a loop-based production tool if you prefer to use loops rather than composing with the piano roll and drum sequencer.
After completing your work, you can upload it to Soundcloud via the app, or save it to Google Drive. Audio files export in stereo and you can export track by track or the full composition.
I highly recommend Stagelight for musicians who want to make their own music on the go or even just record ideas here and there. It’s easy enough to use if you want to record something simple, but if you want to take your idea to the next level and turn it into a full production, you can also do that with Stagelight.
Stagelight is available in the Google Play Store for free and has additional add-ons that you can purchase.
6. Perfect Ear by EDuckAppsSV
Perfect Ear is an app specifically dedicated to ear training and note recognition. As opposed to Vivace, Perfect Ear doesn’t solely use a music staff or focus only on reading notes. Instead, the activities and lessons are also shown on guitar and piano.
Perfect Ear is especially helpful if you’re not extremely interested in reading notes and you want to focus on improvisation, how to figure out melodies by ear, or recognize chord progressions without depending on your instrument.
The key features of Perfect Ear include a sight reading trainer, an absolute pitch trainer, a note singing trainer, a rhythm trainer, customizable training exercises for intervals, scales, chords, and rhythm, articles on music theory, a scale dictionary, and exercises for melodic dictation.
The exercises in Perfect Ear are great for anyone no matter what their skill level is. Since the lessons and exercises are customizable, you can make it as easy or as challenging as you’d like to. They’re also pretty fun; Perfect Ear makes a game out of recognizing notes, intervals, etc, so it’s not something you’ll use for five minutes and then never pick up again.
This app is amazing and any musician would benefit from it. Even if you’re already able to sight read notes and just want to work on getting better at rhythm, Perfect Ear is really helpful and you’ll be able to improve even with the slightest practice with the exercises as long as you stick to it.
Perfect Ear is free on the Google Play Store.
7. GuitarTuna by Yousician Ltd.
GuitarTuna is pretty well known and I think it’s important for any musician who plays a stringed instrument to have a tuner. Some people prefer a physical tuner that clips onto their instrument, some prefer old school ones with the needle, and others prefer pedals.
Out of all the guitar tuner apps on the Play Store, I think GuitarTuna is the best one. Guitar Tuna uses noise cancelling technology to ensure that your phone picks up your instrument and not background noise so you can tune your instrument even in a busy area with a lot of noise.
It works with both acoustic and electric guitars, as well as other stringed instruments, and you don’t need any cables to tune your instrument. You get a really clear look at how close your instrument is to being in tune so you don’t have to take a guess at how close you are to being in tune like you might with a needle tuner.
GuitarTuna has an auto mode tuner that allows you to use the app hands free as it switches automatically to the next string once your current string is in tune. The tuner can also be switched to chromatic mode, aside from the more than 100 other tunings that are available.
Aside from bass, electric, and acoustic guitars, GuitarTuna works with mandolins, ukuleles, violas, violins, cellos, fiddles, balalaikas, banjos, and more.
I use GuitarTuna to tune my own guitars, and it has never failed me. It’s extremely accurate, reliable, and fast. If you’re a musician who can’t be bothered with taking a while to tune your instruments, this tuner is a good option.
It’s free in the Play Store and you can upgrade it to get some other neat features like chord diagrams and a metronome.