Early iPad critics were sure about one thing: This gadget was going to be for consuming, not creating. iPadders, the argument went, will spend all their time feasting on "The Man's" media (movies, music, TV shows) while their own creative urges whithered.
Turns out, people love making stuff with their iPads, and not just the pros. The App Store is packed with ingenious tune-making tools that can turn iTunes lovers into active players. None of the apps that you'll read about below will make you a maestro, but they are fun ways to make some noise. Who knows, maybe there's a maestro in you yet.
This simple-to-operate, impossible-to-exhaust take on tune building will lure you into endless amounts of time spent with your iPad. You "compose" by positioning one or many line segments beneath a drip-drop cascade of music-generating pellets. As each dot hits the various lines, the app plays a note. Add more lines, tweak their positions, and watch this do-it-yourself production unfold.
The free version offers a stripped down palette: Line segments produce one sound only (part wind chime, part marimba.) Upgrade to Pro ($2) via an in-app purchase for the real goodies: Multiple instruments (piano, saxophone and synthesizer); tempo, beats-per-minute controls and the ability to save your creations.
Price: Free, $2
Today's music stars famously benefit from the vocal equivalent of plastic surgery: A little AutoTune-aided voice sprucing. So there's no shame in us musically challenged crooners seeking a similar boost. The remarkable thing about this app is that its assistance is delivered as you sing. Some serious computer science wizardry went into this feat ? most software-powered music magic is added post production. Here you simply plug in any earphones with a mic, start singing, and add harmonies and effects (auto-wah and flanger are especially fun). Save and export when you're done.
3. Glee Karaoke
Karaoke has never been less humiliating with this voice-primping singalong software. Among its other talents, the app software magically keeps you on pitch, adds optional harmonies and turns your iPad into an iPrompter with highlighted lyrics appearing as the instrument track plays. Three songs come with the app but you can buy more Glee-ified songs for a buck a pop. Bonus treats include the chance to listen to recordings made worldwide by other app-using fans, the ability to share your own efforts or a feature that lets you join in and add your voice to songs other fans have posted.
If the best you can do with a piano is play "Three Blind Mice," give this hugely popular alternative a try. Not only do you get substantially more eclectic sound options than most app synthesizers (darabukka or a round sine, anyone?), each comes with its own uniquely designed "play area." Some sorta/kinda look like a piano (picture the keys arranged in a vertical stack of rows). Others offer a big chunky grid.