Music apps are some of the most rewarding to download because the payoff is immediate and they’re usually easy to play. Not only can the right apps help people make music wherever their smarphone goes, but it can also spark creativity in those with little-or-no musical talent. Here are some of the best apps for composing songs, casual beat-makers, and other people that just want to mess around and see what happens.
This is easily one of the longest-running and most accessible music apps available. Figure’s simple interface lets you make something tuneful with just a few taps, even if you’ve got no idea what you’re doing. Once you get the hang of it though, there’s a lot of depth to explore.
Your compositions are built up around drum, bass and lead melody loops, all of which can be tweaked and erased and rebuilt with ease. There’s also a built-in network for sharing your musical masterpieces or you can listen in to mixes the professionals have put together.
Free for iOS
Keezy really is as simple as they come in terms of music-making, with an interface made up of just eight colored block. Tap on a block to start playing a sample, tap on it again to replay the sound... and that’s it. Other tools are hidden behind the black dot in the center.
There is some depth to the apps in terms of being able to replace any of the block samples with a live recording of your own but casual users will have enough fun just playing around with what’s already here. Jams can be quickly recorded and shared with the wider world.
Free for iOS
If you find Keezy a little limiting, then Ninja Jamm can help you go even further. The app is more complex than many in this list but if you’re prepared to spend a few minutes learning the ropes then you can easily put together a tune no matter what your level of musical talent.
The app is based around pre-recorded samples (a lot of which you have to pay for) and once you’ve loaded a pack of them in, you can start jamming, creating loops, pulling apart the sounds and so on. The brief tutorial is a useful way into the app if you’re a beginner.
A rather plain-looking sequencer tool but that makes it perfect for casual musicians and beginners, and there’s actually plenty of depth here for the more professional users, if you need it. It’s also going to cost you money up front, but we’d say it’s worth the investment.
Each song you create can be based around a maximum of eight instruments, and while it’s easy enough to dive straight in, all of your compiled sounds can be tweaked and refined in a multitude of ways, even if you’ve never picked up a normal instrument in your life.
Arpio describes itself as “a new musical instrument” so it’s ideal for those of us who haven’t yet mastered any of the old ones. Tunes are basically controlled by moving your fingers up and down and across the matrix to control the speed and pitch of the melody.
You don’t get the same range of instruments and options as you do in some of the fully fledged sequencers we’ve mentioned, but it’s great fun for playing around with when you’ve got a spare five minutes, and more features are available with an in-app upgrade.
Free for Android
Music Maker Jam
Music Maker Jam has been around for a long time as desktop software and that experience and heritage shows in its uncluttered, approachable interface. It’s probably the best app here in balancing an easy learning curve with the ability to create fully featured songs.
With a few taps you can be mixing all kinds of samples from multiple instruments and tweaking them in all kinds of interesting ways. There are lots of in-app purchases, of course, but the app is also backed up by a vibrant community of music makers.
Aimed at serious music makers really, but also straightforward enough for anyone to jump in and get started. You can load in a few of the samples provided, play out some melodies using the built-in instruments, or use the app to record your own vocals and instruments.
The simple drag-and-drop-and-tap interface lets you chop and change arrangements in seconds, and the app has its own user community you can broadcast your tunes to (should you want to). There’s even an integrated messaging system for collaborating on tracks.