Posted by: Andrea Day | March 26, 2016

Getting ‘Appy – 11 great apps for singers

I’m a self confessed tech geek and a singer, so you would be right in thinking that my iPhone is full of useful apps that make my singing life that little bit easier. After preparing an education session for a mini harmony collage for my chorus, I found that there was a massive interest in different apps out there, so I thought that I would share!

Disclaimer! – I am an iPhone user and can only comment on the apps that I have used and find useful. None of this is to open the debate on what operating system is the best or even what apps are the best… just sharing my experience – please dont jump on the anti / pro iPhone train!

Summary list of apps

Utilities            Teach tracks & recording Games            Geek             
 – iTunes  – Warm me up  – Harmonize  – Tag Master
 – Dropbox  – Dropvox  – Intune  – TE Tuner
 – iPitch  – iLIFT: REMIX  – Acapella

 

Utilities

iTunes with Match – £22

Match iconI learn a LOT of songs so having them all available to me whenever I need them is important.  Every teach track I’ve got is on iTunes and I subscribe to iTunes Match – a service which puts ALL my iTunes library into the cloud so I can access it anywhere at any time without it having to take up loads of room on my phone. It also syncs across all my devices so it makes life easy. Its £22 a year – so not the cheapest solution out there, but it works and I know that all my music is backed up if for some reason I have a massive hard drive failure or something – you cant just re-download a lot of the barbershop and learning tracks I have in my library as its not available on iTunes!

 

Dropbox – free (additional storage space my incur cost)

dropbox_logo_detailAll hail the invention of Dropbox! One of the original cloud based storage solutions which is free (to an extent) and integrates SO well with so many other applications.  I tend to use this as a storage place for PDF files of scores.   I have a folder for each of the groups that I sing with just in case I need to refer to the dots at any point.  I also use it for when I get emailed teach tracks and want to listen to them repeatedly before I can put them in my iTunes library; if you just listen through the emailed copy then you cant move away from the email app without the track stopping – Dropbox supports the multitasking facility so you can use your phone for other stuff while listening.

Not only that, but it also automatically synchronises to my laptop and I can access it at any computer when I log in to their website.

iPitch – £0.79

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.53.54A pitch pipe on your phone in either C-C of F-F. Enough said!

 

 

 

 

Teach Tracks and Recording

iLIFT:REMIX – £3.99 (edit: now called “Learn That”

ilift

A great little app for teach tracks. If the track is in your iTunes library, then you can import it into the app and once it’s in there you can do some cool stuff.

Pitch shift – great for if you are going to be performing the track in a different key, this feature allows you to transpose it so that you can ensure that you practice in the same key to build that muscle memory.  This doesn’t change the speed, just the pitch.

Isolate and repeat – we all have that track where we need to work on it section by section as its a bit much to take in in one go.  This allows you to isolate and save sections of the track so that you can repeat just that bit until you have nailed it.

Slow down – tricky tracks (especially Aaron Dale charts!) can often need slowing down to make sure that you get every note correct before you move on.  This facility allows you to slow the track down without affecting the pitch and then gradually speed it back up as you get the hang of it.

DropVox – £1.49

app-dropvoxThis great little app records MP3 files directly to your Dropbox – its really easy to use – just hit the big red button to start and then again to stop.  You can choose what folder it saves to in your Dropbox – I have a folder called “rehearsal recordings” for each of the groups that I sing with that the app just drops the audio in to.  You need to have a data signal on your phone or wifi connection and be comfortable with the amount of data that uploading the audio will use – but as they are MP3s they aren’t too big and as the format can be used by all. Once there, it’s really easy to email the audio around to whoever needs to listen to them – all using your phone.

Warm Me Up –  £4.49

WarmMeUpLogo200

I drive to a LOT of rehearsals and gigs and being a busy bee, time is usually pretty limited.  I often warm up on the way using this app. It has a load of simple warm ups that are split into different categories, gentle starts, getting warmer, increasing the range etc.  You can choose from four different voice types, high / low, mens / womens and the length of time that you want to warm up for.  It chooses a random selection from each category for your voice type and time – it means you never really know what’s going to come next.

The other thing that I have to credit it with, is extending my range.  I started my barbershop life as a lead and it wasn’t until I joined my quartet The MIX that tenor was an option for me – my top note was an E.  I needed to step up big time with going down the tenor route and this app helped me train my voice up to an A and now, three years on, I’m hitting top Cs.  Yikes!

 

Games

Harmonise – free

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.35.00Two little ninja blobs sing a pitch each and you have to replicate them by sliding your finger up and down the screen to get them in tune.  I love this – so simple but really makes you listen and it uses the just tuning system rather than equal temperament (check out a previous blog post about this if you aren’t familiar with the terms).  You can really hear the “beat” sound that is generated when the tuning isn’t quite right, once you have tuned the two notes to eliminate that, you can even hear the overtone and get that in tune.  When you nail both of these then you know that you have got the interval just right.  Playing makes you listen hard and makes you realise how accurate we need to be in barbershop to ring the chords and get the expansion of sound.

Intune – free

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.33.48

Another little simple free game to tune your ears – the app plays you two pitches one after each other and all you have to do is work out if the second one is higher or lower. As you move through the levels the pitches get closer and closer.

One thing this one has taught me is that I can hear things when they are sharper but not when they are flatter, so when someone else tells me I’m flat, then I just really need to take their word for it!

 

 

Acapella – free

acapella

If you like afterglows and singing tags, or even just pushing your own boundaries by learning all the parts to a song, then this will be fun for you.  You can record up to nine videos of you singing each part and line them up to create your own harmonies.  You can even link up with other users of the app to get them to join in too – like a virtual tag party! When you are happy with your creation, you can publish them online – if you dare!

 

Geek

Tag Master – free

tagmaster

An absolute essential for all afterglow attendees, Tagmaster is a massive database of user submitted tags, some with music and some with teach tracks.  The tags are all rated by the collective barbershop hive mind, you can save your favourites and submit your own. What is there not to like?

 

 

TE Tuner – £2.99

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 22.06.29This is a barbershoppers geek dream; I used to have a load of different apps that all did individual tasks, but this one pretty much covers off the lot – and it can flip between just and equal temperament.

Pitch generator – if you aren’t satisfied with the tone or pitch of the simple iPitch app then knock yourself out with the options on this.

Frequency spectrum – wanna find out if you are creating overtones, you can actually SEE them using this feature

Tuner – not just for tuning up guitars and things… sing a note into this and see how hard it is to keep it at a speady pitch – when you get it right, then you get a lovely smiley face looking back at you.

Metronome – not just the regular tick tick tick, but you can also set the time signature so that you can get the emphasis on the right beat of the bar. And if you don’t know the tempo, there is a tap pad where you can give it a beat and it throws out a tempo.

It does loads more geek stuff…. but those are the main features that you will find fun to play with as a singer.

 

 

There are stacks more apps out there that either combine some of these tasks or help with something completely different, feel free to add them in the comments section below – I’m always on the look out for more ways to make life easier!

 

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Responses

  1. I’m liking Do Re Mi Voice Trainer, see that scooping, watch the vibrato, feel the flatting! Also justly tuned.


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