10 Free iPad and iPhone Apps for Musicians

By Ryan C. Williams, Mike Levine

Not everything you put on your iPhone or iPad must cost you a ton of money. The App Store offers plenty of noisemakers for free. A good deal of them are introductions to other, more full-featured apps that are available at a higher cost, but some come to you out of the goodness of the developers’ hearts. Let’s take a look at what’s out there for the taking.

Novation Launchpad

This app gives you 16 virtual pads and some interesting effects that let you produce dance-based music almost immediately. Sure, Novation wants to sell you some additional sounds for a small fee, but the free samples that come with the app still handle themselves well.

Take

Propellerheads gives you a scratchpad that lets you loop up to four tracks of audio from your mic over some prerecorded beats. Just sing or hum along to capture your inspiration wherever you wish.

AmpliTube Free

AmpliTube Free starts you off with some basic guitar and bass sounds for you to play around. You can add some additional gear and recording capabilities if you wish. Still, nobody should turn up his or her nose at the free gear IK Multimedia offers with this app.

Keezy

You can think of Keezy as a lightweight sampler, or you can just play around with its included soundboards. Keezy makes music creation for all ages.

Modular Synthesizer

This free app gives you the feel of an old analog synthesizer (complete with cables and jacks!) paired with Audiobus compatibility and some amazing sounds.

Tape

This app gives you exactly what it looks like — a virtual two-track tape recorder. If it’s possible to do retro recording on an iPhone or iPad, this app accomplishes the task.

LP-5

LP-5 puts five sampler-based tracks on your device and tailors the interface for use in a live performance. This free version restricts you to the samples included in the app, but you can upgrade to the full version and import your own.

Hokusai

If you need to tweak some audio tracks, or even mix some recordings together, Hokusai gives you a simple, easy-to-use editor with Dropbox capabilities.

TF7

TF7 puts a pad-based interface and FM synthesis right on your iPad. Again, the app will prompt you to buy additional functionality, but you can fully enjoy the free version as well.

GrainProc

This granular synthesis effect takes the audio you send it (such as vocals or instruments) and lets you manipulate it with a variety of effects. This app is definitely for the more experimental users.