Saturday, February 22, 2014

6 Great Music Creation Tools For Teachers and Students

There's been a dropoff in my posts over the past few months. This isn't because I have run out of things to talk about. I've just been trying to adjust to a new school and curriculum. I'll be regularly posting again soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to talk about music creation platforms. I love them. So here are my favorites in order of complexity, starting with the easiest to use:

1) Toca Band (An iOS App)

The simplest app I've messed around with also has a lot of staying power.  Like with all of the apps made by Toca, Toca Band is a lot of fun and very easy to use.

2) Incredibox

Incredibox is very much like Toca Band but with a few added features. First when you add a new beatbox singer, it will wait until the right time to join in, so it sounds better as you swap singers in and out. There is a random mode that randomly puts in new singers as the song progresses. There are "bonus" interludes that are interesting even if they don't quite fit the song. But the main advantage is that there are now three versions. Below are videos that feature each of the versions:

Incredibox Version 1

Incredibox Version 2

Incredibox Version 3

3) Button Base
Potentially one of the most annoying applications in this list, Button Base still is a lot of fun. There are a lot more choices and styles in this program. You activate a new beat by clicking on a cube. But not all of the cubes fit seemlessly together. There is more experimentation here, but as long as you're working towards creating a piece of music and not just randomly mashing cubes, you can create something pretty cool:

4) Garage Band

I can't overstate Garage Band enough... I think it should be taught to all elementary students. It's power and easy learning curve lets anyone who doesn't know anything about music theory but likes music to make their own original pieces. Having all of the expansion packs helps, as there are literally thousands of loops from all over the world to choose from. Here's a song I made last year:

My brother made a song with our nephew a few years ago. Neither of them had much experience with the app before this:

5) Isle of Tune

Isle of Tune is next on my list, and besides Garage Band, its the one I've used in school the most. The ability to draw a map that makes music is so weird and intriguing, even if you have no idea how to create a beat, it instantly draws you in.
It's hard to create a good song though. Much harder than Garage Band. However it seems to have almost as much draw because of the visual aspect.

I spend a few minutes on Beat Lab from time to time. There are lots of genres and options. It's a bit hard for me though. However looking at Beat Lab's extensive examples, it seems like it can be extremely powerful. 

7) UJam
I've talked about UJam before here and here. I've mostly used it to transform voice into instruments, as with the music in this commercial jingle. I took Lukas' voice and changed it into a toy piano. That's awesome!

What else is there?

I've played with several others but none have really stuck. Ophion is very well designed and kind of fun for a few minutes.

SoundyThingie has even more of a unique design, but can become extremely annoying really quickly.

Both are worth playing with if your creative bug is itching your inner ear.

What do you use? I would love to hear additional recommendations.

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