iPads and iOS‎ > ‎

Music for Non-Musicians

There are some amazing apps for making music on the iPad and many of them don't require very much musical talent to produce some really interesting results. By creating your own music you avoid the sticky issues of copyright, but mostly it's just a lot of fun to write your own tunes! Digital media almost always needs soundtracks, so there are many reasons for students to make music and many subjects that could benefit from it. In this session you will learn some easy apps for making music and produce your very own soundtrack by the end of the workshop. You’ll need access to the App Store to download apps.

To be a musician you need to study, read and understand music, right? Well, maybe not. There are quite a few apps for the iPad that enable non musicians* to make music too. With a bit of experimentation, patience and creativity, even those of us who can't play a note on a conventional instrument can make some really interesting music using these apps. And if not music, then at least some really interesting sonic experiments!

Apps you should try...


Objects that strike each other make noise. Musyc take that idea further by creating virtual objects that can be made to fall, bounce and hit each other, making some interesting sounds. Combined with sequencer objects (objects that regularly spit out other objects) and you can build rhythms, melodies and soundscapes.  Get Musyc

Loopy HD

It takes a little getting used to but Loopy HD lets you record and edit your own sound samples, repeating them over and over and building up the layers to create some really interesting sounds. You can record loops of different bar lengths, and then play the loops to create variety and texture. Definitely worth taking a few moments to read through the tutorials, as there are quite a few gestures and features that you might not discover on your own. Get Loopy HD


Conventional music is made up of 4 bars, which in turn are made up of 16 beats. Auxy recreates this idea by giving you a number of 16 beat grids that let you tap on the beats to add notes. Different levels make different pitches. Start the sequencer and just keep tapping until you make something you like! Overlay up to 4 sequencers to build up layers of sounds. Duplicate layers, modify them to create variations, then combine them in different ways. Once you build a set of sequences you like, press record to capture your creative efforts. Get Auxy

Also, try Auxy Studio, a more sophisticated version of Auxy. It lets you build and arrange more complex compositions. If your new to this stuff, just start with basic Auxy.


Takes a similar approach to Auxy, using a 16 beat grid, layers of audio, multiple sequencers, etc. it then takes it further by enabling you to create sequences of any length, combine them into groups, then repeat groups to create songs. you can then record your work. 
Get Beatwave


Uses pre-recorded loops which you can combine in many ways to create layers of sound. It tends to be best for creating techno or house style music to help you bring out your inner DJ! Mix it up by switching loops to see what you get. The nice thing is that most of the loops work pretty well with each other, so you'll be creating interesting music in no time. Once you combine some loops you like, really mix it up by experimenting with the filters, volumes and FX.   Get Launchpad

Where to from here?


Comes standard on every iPad, and is incredibly sophisticated and powerful. It lets you create both loops-based and MIDI-based music, and has multiple instruments you can play with.  Get GarageBand


A relative newcomer to the iPad, but Soundtrap has been around as a web tool for a while. It has many of the same functions that GarageBand, like loops and sequences, but it's real strength is the ability for multiple people to collaborate together on a song. Although it's an app, it still relies quite heavily on an Internet connection. Get Soundtrap  (also available on the Chrome Webstore for Chromebooks and Chrome Browser)

Oh, and these...


Not a music app as such, but a useful utility for working with them. Apps on the iPad use a sandboxed approach to maintain security. This means that it's not always a simple thing to move something made in one app to another app. Audiocopy attempts to solve this problem by acting a go-between for audio content. Many apps can export or save to Audiocopy, and from there the audio can be exported to other apps.  Get Audiocopy


Once you've made your work of sonic art, where do you put it? Try Soundcloud, the audio equivalent of YouTube. With a Soundcloud account you can publish your finished compositions to the Internet, share them with social media, embed them in blogs or wikis, etc. if you make music, you probably should have a Soundcloud account.  Get Soundcloud

*a quick note about  the term “non musicians”. I don't really believe anyone is a non musician. Sure, some of us didn't study music and we may not know much about musicology, the theory or terminology of music, but we all have music in us. Using some of these apps, hopefully you can discover your inner musician. Have fun!

If you have a moment I'd really appreciate your feedback on this session. Thanks!