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Monday, 15 September 2014

Making music on the cheap... on my Android phone

This is a note to myself that it is cheap to make music on my Android phone. Of course there's nothing like making music on a proper keyboard, or a proper guitar. But having moved out from Mum and Dad's house, I left the piano and guitar behind. I still get the urge to plonk the ivory keys once in a while. I still hold my left hand fingers in chord shapes.

So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that there are apps on Google Play that enable you to make music for free on your mobile phone. Here are a few that I've installed.

  1. Common Analog Synthesizer by Oxxxide. The interface on this app is great. It is based on pictures of the Nord Lead 1. This app has many oscillator dials to change and customize the sounds. It has many types of sounds, which I particularly like. However, changing the octave is a bit troublesome, and the keys are a little small. (My phone has a 4 inch screen....)
  2. Music Synthesizer for Android by Raph Levien. This app is based on Yamaha DX7. Unlike app no. 1, this app has only two dials -- cutoff and resonance. But it is a reasonably easy to use app, especially in changing the octave. The CAS needs you to press "up" and "down" buttons. This one just requires you to drag the keyboard left and right. The keyboard size is a little more roomy, as well. (Did I mention that my phone has a 4 inch screen?)
  3. SynPrezFM II (FM Synthesizer) by Jean-Marc Desprez. Another keyboard app, but without dials. Instead you have forms filled with preset values. You can change the values in the form -- quite akin to turning the dial on your electronic keyboard. It is also a Yamaha DX7 emulator, like app no. 2 above. Not bad at all.
  4. Saucillator for Android. This one is quite different from the preceding apps -- all we see is a blank screen. You can move your finger around the screen, and the sound will change. There are settings for synth sounds and effects. There's a looper, which I haven't learnt how to use. The best bit for me is the Recorder, which records the sounds you are making into a file. For other readers, the best part may be the ability to emulate a Theremin's sounds. It is "inspired by the Korg Kaossilator and the Moog synthesizer" -- which should explain its approach.
  5. Ethereal Dialpad by Adam Smith. This one is like app no. 4 (Saucillator), using a touchscreen mode to make music. Move your finger about the screen and music shall ensue. It's been a lifesaver for me at times, too. My son plays with it when I can't convince him to keep quiet in public places. It has a mode where dazzling sparks will fly at your finger, while it sings its sweet musical voice. In another, you can trace a bright neon light (which fades). A fantastic app, really.
Do give them a try. They are all free.