Apps You Can Use

Posted by: admin on January 29, 2009 @ 9:56 am
Filed under: Culture, Music Technology

When the first iPhone’s came out, I didn’t really subscribe to the hype. But when I began traveling a bit more, connectivity was a necessity. Now, with iPhone in hand, I can honestly say that this dopey little piece of technology is just as cool as any I’ve encountered. Which leads me to pass on some sweet Applications that I’ve been relying on lately.

1. Shazam
Shazam is an App that listens to your surroundings, sends and compares the audio info to a pretty extensive database of music. From there, the system sends back the artist, track, album, year, and all other information. It works great for those little NPR clips they use, or late-night radio when the pop suddenly disappears and you start hearing things you’ve never heard before. It’s downfall is classical music which doesn’t seemed to be supported to the extent that pop, rock, and jazz are.

2. Simplify Media
This App is one I was just recently turned on to. Simplify Media has created a music-streaming App that links up to your iTunes library. You can stream any music in your library except iTunes purchased DRM tracks–which for me, isn’t an issue. I’ve been checking out lately where you can get better quality files. But if there was ever an essential iPhone App, this is it. You can also stream music from up to 30 friends, view lyrics and artist bios.

3. WeatherBug
A comprehensive weather App, WeatherBug can link you up to live feeds of cameras around almost any city to see a bird’s eye view of the location in question. Temp, wind, humidity, etc, are all here as well. I know, I know, you say, just walk outside and check. But it’s so much nicer to know what I’m getting myself into with this crazy yet typical Chicago weather.

4. Chess
As I’m a chess junkie, this straight-forward App allows me to play on the road. Also included is Backgammon, Sudoku, Checkers, Mancala, and Tic Tac Toe.

5. Big Oven
This is a collection of over 400,000 recipes, all right at my fingertips.

6. Rain Stick
By far, the most useless application on my phone. I had a buddy back in my hippy days who wanted to play music, but never found the time to learn any instrument. He chose the rain stick after striking out with the didgeridoo. The Rain Stick app is a follow up to other iPhone instruments like Cow Bell, and perhaps most notably, the Ocarina which has had multiple YouTube performances. For example:

Where people will take this technology is anyone’s guess. I’m just happy to be part of the community of iPhoners. And whereas I could most certainly live without the iPhone, I can say that I would miss it. Feel free to pass on any Apps you are digging on in the Comments section. I’m always interested in updates.


  1. One more thought while I’m thinking of it. Why hasn’t anyone come up with a notation app? The touch-screen would be perfect for something like this. It’d be great to be able to pick your staff and have playback simply on a piano sound. Export files to a Finale or Sibelius compatible format. Am I wrong? Or should this have already happened? Or has it and I haven’t found it yet?

    Comment by Jim — January 29, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  2. I like Karajan, an ear training program for musicians of all levels. You can test yourself on intervals, chords, scales, time signatures, etc. The sounds could be better but still, it’s easy to use and great practice.

    Comment by John Melito — January 29, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  3. Thanks for the info John. I’ll have to get my hands on that very soon. Still would love a notation program.

    Comment by Jim — January 29, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  4. The music apps “Synth Pond” and “Bebot” are my current favorites. For only $2, they make creative use of the iPhone’s unique touch screen.

    They are easy to use and sound fantastic…just the outlet I was looking for while searching for new sounds.

    Comment by Robby — January 30, 2009 @ 3:55 am

  5. And there is a way that you can run the signal out of the headphone jack, right? I haven’t tried that yet. Does it sound decent when running into a recording rig? I haven’t had much use for my rain stick app in any of the tunes I’ve been working on lately.

    Comment by Jim — January 30, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  6. I too am fairly addicted to my iPhone (I check the Greenleaf Blog on it regularly). All of my apps are free ones cuz I’m cheap. My favorites: Pandora – just like the web-based one. I have a dozen different stations. Wolfgang’s Vault – streaming classic rock and roll (some Miles and Mahavishnu too) concerts from back in the day. I played a great Randy Newman solo show the other day. Dictionaire – it ain’t the OED but it’s good on the go. iTick – a pretty decent metronome. AP Mobile News – I’m pretty obsessed with reading news. iHandy Level – pretty convenient when working around the house. QuickVoice sound recorder – you never know when a song is going to come and it’s helpful to sing and record a melody real quick before it disappears.

    I have three young sons that like my phone too. Their favorite apps (I like ’em too): Whoopie and Fart For Free – virtual whoopie cushions. DigiLite – a little drum pad. MiniPiano – why they like this one octave “piano” when there is a real piano in the house I don’t know. Lightsaber – pretty cool to pretend you are channeling the Force.

    And yeah, Jim, a notation app would be huge!!

    Comment by Bart — January 30, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  7. Got a few more suggestions from the peanut gallery for other apps to check out.

    Brian Eno apps:

    Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation.


    Bloom explores uncharted territory in the realm of applications for the iPhone. Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen. A generative music player takes over when Bloom is left idle, creating an infinite selection of compositions and their accompanying visualisations.


    Jazz Fake Book iPhone addition sounds pretty sweet as well.

    Comment by Jim — January 30, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  8. Don’t even have an iPhone, but I was going to chime in with what I’ve heard about Jazz Fake Book. Apparently it also transposes the chords into different keys…. Not so far away from your music notation app….

    iBelius? iNale?

    Can’t be far away.

    Comment by Dave Douglas — January 30, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  9. Karajan is really cool. Fun and instructional when you are on the train, bus, or generally in between.

    Comment by Frank Visconti — February 2, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  10. Theremin for iphone anyone? Check it out:

    Comment by Fintan O'Byrne — February 5, 2009 @ 3:11 am

  11. Theremin for iphone anyone? Check it out:

    Comment by Fintan O'Byrne — February 5, 2009 @ 3:11 am

  12. Theremin! One of my favorite instruments. Trying to play the Good Vibrations outro right now.

    Comment by Jim — February 6, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

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