For Part 2 of Music Study Apps, I am going to take a look at an amazing, brand new, app that is going to make anyone’s life easier who has to listen to a piece of music and figure out how to play it by ear. Or anyone who wants to play along with a piece of music and repeat certain sections over and over.
PracticeLooper by Signals and Stuff is a brand new app just released January 18, 2015! The price is currently $4.99
PracticeLooper has a wonderfully clean design that is simple, straightforward and to the point! It is beautifully done and works well on iPhones or iPads both.
BASIC PREMISE: The app allows you to load a file from your iTunes, set up looping sections, adjust the pitch of the recording and also adjust the speed of the recording. When adjusting pitch or speed in this app things actually work as expected!
Let’s Dig in….
First step is to load a tune from the iTunes. This is the ONLY time I ever ran into issues with this app. Upon tapping the 8th note/music icon at the bottom of the screen you see a list of the tunes in your iTunes library. Of course if you are using iTunes Match then you need to make sure that the tune you want has actually already been downloaded to your device from within Apple’s Music app. The list I saw though actually included a few tunes that were NOT on my device but NOT all of my tunes – this was the weird part. The way I figure it is there has to be issues with iTunes Match and the way Apple works the music library on my device. I’m pretty sure this is NOT a “bug” in PracticeLooper.
The solution was simple on those weird tunes – jump into the Music app and tap the cloud icon to download it.
From there all was smooth sailing….
OVERVIEW – The waveform loads into the middle of the screen. You see the detailed, large view on top with a smaller overview of the entire track underneath. In that overview you will also see a rectangle indicating what section you are looking at in the larger, detailed waveform. Grab that rectangle and drag it to quickly change the detailed view. Pinch and zoom works as expected.
Hit the play button and off you go.
CHANGING PLAY LOCATION – If you want to jump to a different spot in the music then drag the playhead. If you want to jump right to a different spot in the detail view then simply tapping ABOVE the waveform will jump you to that spot – To figure out where to tap simply think about where the bulb part of the the playhead is at – ABOVE the waveform.
LOOP SETTING – In order to start a loop simply tap the loop icon. Where ever the playhead is at you will see a loop marker drop in. Then you will notice that the loop icon is spinning, indicating that you need to set the end point for the loop. When the playhead gets to the appropriate spot tap the loop icon and your loop has been set! Don’t worry about being too precise as it is easy as pie to adjust the start and stop points. Once your loop is set the detail view will zoom to the loop section (if you don’t like this you can turn it off in the settings but I’m not sure why you would want to)
EDITING LOOP – Simply tap near the little white triangles, on the detailed waveform and drag to adjust the end points of the loop section.
MULTIPLE LOOPS – You can set up as many points to loop as you wish. Each loop section will be a different color.
ENDING THE LOOP – If you are done with the loop then tap the X in the middle of the loop icon. Beware though that this will actually CLEAR the loop. If you want to save it for later use then simply tap ABOVE the detail view outside of the loop section and the tune will continue on.
SPEED and PITCH – The rehearsal starts with adjusting the speed and sometimes the pitch of your loops. Slow practice is vital as we all know! So slow that loop down, rehearse it a zillion times, adjust the speed some more and keep building up speed until eventually you are a pro!
SAVING LOOP SETTINGS – As you open and close tunes the loop setting you have done will stay there and reappear the next time you open that tune! Nice touch!
MIDI GIVES EVEN MORE OPTIONS! – The fun doesn’t end with the nice clean and easy to figure out interface though! The developers have built in the option to control this app from a MIDI device! That means that you could use this app and hardly even touch your iPad! This is a surprise inclusion to me! A very nice one too! Click the screen shot to the right here to see all the different setting you can control via MIDI.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT – A nice option would be to set a loop, slow the tempo down and then be able to repeat it 10 times with each time slowly increasing in tempo until the original tempo has been reached.
FINAL THOUGHTS – For an initial release this app is a polished, well working app that gives us musicians of today a HUGE leg up from what we used to have to do! I remember wearing out the start and stop buttons on my tape decks in the past, guessing about how far to rewind and hoping that my tape didn’t break!
The developers have a nice video on their website and their website is well done as well. Having a video like this and a well done website is essential to a successful app launch!
This is an essential app for musicians learning someone else music.