Composing ‘on the go!’
Micro Bursts of Creativity
If you are considering trying to write music on a mobile device, here are some observations and tips that may help you get started. I tend to think of this mode of writing more informal, quite different from formal composing on a computer and/or keyboard. Patience, persistence and determination are required to learn the style of each app. There is so much to the language of music to squeeze into an app to make it authentic and useful.
Trying the demo versions of each to selecting the best fit for you. Also, keep in mind, the overall price of these apps are all affordable (usually under $20 US) compared with professional level computer versions, for example, Finale, Sibelius, DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) that are hundreds of dollars.
I am currently working with the following apps, in no preference or order:
- GarageBand for iOS
- Music Studio
- Symphony Pro for iPhone
Your App Aesthetic Preference – each app has its own layout including tabs, drop down menus, colour schemes, and mini-menus for the various notation icons, markings, and functions. Which suits your style?
How important is Instrument Sound Quality? Audition various instruments and input methods (keyboard, guitar, etc., finger direct to staff) for the sound quality. How important is touch sensitivity and performance articulations (staccato, legato, accented, slurred)? Sampled instrument sounds usually come at an increased price tag. My preference is for the most authentic, sampled instruments sounds, which, in turn, inspire my performance and creations.
Inspiration is Not always there – One of the benefits to mobile composing with these ‘on the go’ apps is that I use these apps when I’m literally ‘on the go’. Each app has a different composition that is a work in progress. I may go back to it every few days or weeks. I find that this allows for ‘fresh eyes (and ears)’, in contrast to focusing on a piece for hours, typical of the computer and keyboard versions. During times when you have to wait, e.g., sitting on the bus, subway, waiting in a queue, or for your meal, it takes seconds for these apps to load giving you the opportunity to have a micro burst of creativity. Sometimes, these short durations bring positive change to the direction of a composition, accompaniment, chord progression, or melody writing.