Symphony for iPhone – Free! Music Notation App for the palm of your hand!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMOK People! This is a no brainer!

There are a couple of music notation apps available for iPad currently. One of the main choices for anyone seriously looking for a great app has been SymphonyPro Small IconSymphony Pro by Xenon Labs, LLC. This app has been out for a while now and has matured into a wonderful way to work. Now Xenon has released Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMSymphony for iPhone  (normally $4.99 and worth every penny of that!) BUT currently it is on a very short sale – it’s a good sale too – FREE!

Unfortunately, Xenon is breaking one of my cardinal rules of selling an app. They really have no web site showing off what the iPhone version is capable of currently. I am sure they are working on one but for now you have to read what is offered to you on the iTunes Store.

Let me highlight a few significant items for music educators:

  1. This app works with Music XML – that means you can start a score here and transfer it to another app like Symphony Pro on iPad, Notion on iPad or even Sibelius/Finale/Notion on desktop!
  2. This app will allow students to pull MIDI files off the internet and put them into notation files! This is a wonderful way to find transcriptions that others have done but are not available in sheet music yet.
  3. You can hook up an external device like a MIDI keyboard and speed up entry of notes!
  4. You can even record in real time!
  5. You have up to 15 instruments, 45 staves and 4 voices per stave at a time to work with!
  6. You can make staves invisible to view only what you want to view at any given time – as you can imagine, this would be very helpful on a smaller screen.
  7. There are chord, lyric and even annotation tools available
  8. After your students are done creating they can use AirPlay to play their masterpiece through AirPlay compatible speakers or an Apple TV (or the AirServer/Reflection apps) – Think about it – NO WIRES!

Can you tell I’m a bit excited about this? 🙂

Symphony Screen Shot


3 iOS Apps That Make it Simple for Recording Your Music

Hokusai Big Icon reSonare Big Icon Take Big Icon

Musicians always have the desire to record our music, be it our own or that music we are listening to around us. They also have longed for a way to quickly capture musical thoughts and ideas that pop into our heads. Usually these ideas pop into our heads at the most inopportune times – on the train on the way to work, at work during lunch break, or maybe waiting in line. How do we capture those ideas quickly with a minimum of fuss?

Have you ever used Apple’s Voice Memos app because it is so straightforward and drop dead simple to use? Then you also were probably left with a desire for that app to offer just a little bit more!

This is going to be a simple and straightforward post about a few apps that are great options to simply record. We are not talking about apps like GarageBand and Cubasis, nope, just apps that let you record quickly and easily. They let you record one or more tracks, do a few basic edits and maybe have a few other “extras” like adding reverb or sharing.


App Around The Longest –
Hokusai Small IconHokusai (Free) – (Introduced on August 1, 2011) [Has both iPad and iPhone versions]

Newest App (Geared towards vocalists [or in my opinion, ANYONE] ) –
Take Small IconTake Creative Vocal Recorder (Free) – (Released July 10, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]

App Directed Towards Instrumentalists –
reSonare Small IconreSonare (Introduced April 15, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]


Hokusai Screen1HOKUSAI:
I love the way Hokusai allows you to interact with the audio on a touch interface. This app allows you to do multitrack recording and also allows you to edit that audio – trim the ends, cut, copy, paste, delete and you even have some filters and special effects! You can transfer the edited audio via USB, DropBox or use the Open In option to send to other apps.




Hokusai Edit Screen




Take Record ShotTAKE CREATIVE VOCAL RECORDER:Take 3 Tracks Shot
Takes the drop-dead simplicity of your voice memos and combines to with features custom tailored to vocalists (Or any musician, in my opinion) Propellerhead has released a wonderful app today that allows you to start recording right away, with the tap of just one button!

But it gives you just a few more options as well. There are three parts per song you can record, allowing for some harmonies or an instrumental track. There is the all important metronome too! This metronome is not Beethoven’s metronome though, it has some fun loops and beats to get you inspired to musical greatness. Then there are even some basic effects controls that let you control the Reverb/Delay added to your recording. This is important because once again we are recording with our iOS mic which records in mono. Propellerhead designed this app to work specifically with that scenario though and engineered the app to maximize the quality of those recordings.

Of course what would an app be these days without ways to share our musical explorations? FaceBook, Twitter and email all are covered here as well as sending through a message.

This is a beautiful looking app and joins a fine family of Propellerhead apps on the app store that you need to check out!

The family includes:

  • Figure ($0.99) – builds some great 3 part music. The tag reads, “Got 3 minutes to make some music?” If you don’t have this yet it’s a ton of fun! The kids love it because it is so easy to get some pretty rocking music out of!
  • Thor Polysonic Synthesizer ($15) – one of the best synth apps out there.
  • ReBirth for iPad ($15) – Legendary software reborn for iOS


reSonare iPhone ViewreSONARE:reSonare Musicians
For the “classical” musician to record themselves performing on their instruments. Has pre-sets for different instruments. So if you are recording a flute you would then select the Flute preset for optimal sound vs having the Piano preset selected. Also helps improve the mono recording you get by using the built-in microphone on iOS devices by giving you a stereo widening effect along with EQ and reverb. Gives you a one click step to mastering your mono recording into stereo with pseudo-stereo and specialization techniques. (Read that as – Sounds better than plain old, normal recordings!)

Professional Musicians helped develop the app settings and they also created guidelines for recording each instrument that you can read in the app.

Allows you to share via email, Wi-Fi, iTunes files haring, DropBox and my favorite for students, SoundCloud.

Working with photo’s and Video’s and iOS devices

This past couple of months I have started looking for a different way to handle my photo’s and video’s that I capture with my iPad and iPhone. I used to not have that many to deal with so I simply hooked that cable up to my laptop, plugged in my iOS device and imported it all into iPhoto. Then I would hit the delete option after importing. This would keep my camera roll cleared out and keep me from importing duplicates the next time around. Now that I have my iPhone it has become as bit more complicated because I am capturing many more photo’s and video with the phone. So let me fill you in on how I am dealing with this issue.

First thing to keep clear is the difference between the camera roll and your photo library. The camera roll is where a picture will go when you shoot it with your camera. That picture will sit in the camera roll until you delete it. The camera roll is also where screen shots are stored, any pictures you save from the Safari app and any other app.

Your Photos app is where you put photo’s when you are syncing from your computer.

Apple’s Photo Stream makes these two apps a bit more confusing. If you have Photo Stream turned on then your last 1,000 photo’s will be streamed out to the cloud. (This time I do NOT mean videos by the way. Photo Stream does not do video as of right now.) So you will be able to see the photo’s that are in your Camera Roll, inside of your Photo’s App under the Photo Stream button. Those photo’s are not actually in your Photo’s app though. You are simply looking at your pictures that are out there in the cloud. Now remember that your Photo Stream are the last 1.000 pictures from ALL your devices, your iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch, Computer or whatever else you have hooked up to your stream.

Obviously you would probably want to save the pictures from your camera roll and cherish those precious moments forever. Photo Stream makes this an easy process! Take a look in iPhoto at the options under Photo Stream. Those settings allow you to automatically import the photo’s (not videos) from your iPhone or iPad camera roll and iPhoto will import those into your permanent iPhoto database.

This is an easy way to take ALL of your camera roll pictures (not videos) and get them into your computer for further manipulation. The videos you need to find another way to deal with those – which is easily done by hooking that cable up between the computer and the iOS device.

There is one huge issue though with this process. If you let Photo Stream and iPhoto do all the work of importing your photo’s (not videos) into your computer iPhoto database, you will be left with the original photo’s on your iOS device. This gets confusing after awhile though. I’m constantly forgetting what I have imported and what still needs to be imported. The answer is to delete the photo’s from the camera roll once you know that iPhoto has imported them form your Photo Stream. Of course you can do this one at a time on the iOS device but this gets tedious, especially if you have 400+ pictures like i did tonight. You cannot delete them using iPhoto either – in the old days before Photo Stream did the improving of the photo’s for us, we would click the import button and then click the delete button after the import was done.

There is a quick solution. A very unused app, Image Capture, sits in your applications folder. It comes with every Mac and most of us never use it. If you hook your iOS device up and start that app you will find a very easy way to delete your photo’s (JUST REMEMBER – those videos were never imported by Photo Stream!) In fact you will see that using this app you can import pictures (and those videos), rotate them, and delete them. Plus you can select all or some. Another bonus is that Image Capture is really fast! Take a look at the screen shot below to see what your options look like. There are even other options available. Things like having Image Capture open automatically when you hook up your iPhone or iPad, you can import the media to a folder or even directly into iPhoto or a different app. Image Capture will even let you make a web page of the media and email pictures as well. This app is capable of many things. Dig around and enjoy.

I will be taking a look at several other apps I have found to deal with getting that media off your iOS device and into your computer in the next couple of days. So stay tuned.

PS…. sorry if you are looking for information about using your iOS device with a PC – I am a user of Macs.