The 14 best music creation apps for iPhone and Android: how to re-make history’s greatest music with your phone

Autotune, echoes, rock guitars and rappers' delights – the tools you need to create a classic track of your very own

Humans have always used technology to broaden their musical palettes, from the earliest drums to today's digital delights - and some technologies transformed music altogether. 

Imagine a world without fuzzy guitars or drum machines, sampling, sequencers or AutoTune. Here are some of the sounds that changed music - and the apps that'll put them on your tablet or smartphone.

1. Slapback delay

As heard in: That's All Right Mama, Elvis

The legendary Sun Studios sound of Elvis, Johnny Cash and other rock'n'roll heroes owes a lot to slapback delay, which was caused by using a tape machine that introduced a slight delay between recording and playback. The resulting effect, slapback, made songs sound much fuller and more exciting.

Get the app:

SpaceSampler (iOS, £1.99)

usbEffects (Android, £1.99)

2. Theremin

As heard in: Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys

The Theremin is your go-to instrument for spooky 1950s sci-fi B-movie soundtracks, but its most famous appearance is on Good Vibrations: it's the ee-ooooo eeeee-ooooo sound that makes the song. The theremin is popular in avant-garde and psychedelic rock too. 

Get the app: 

Therimax (iOS, £1.49)

Etherophone (Android, £Free)

More after the break...

3. Vocoder

As heard in: Get Lucky, Daft Punk

The vocoder was originally designed for telecommunications applications, but the things it did to voices were too much fun not to use in music too. Its first musical role was in the early 1950s, but it wasn't until Wendy Carlos and Robert Moog collaborated in 1970 that the modern vocoder really appeared. You'll hear it on the Clockwork Orange soundtrack, Kraftwerk's Autobahn album, ELO's Mr Blue Sky and countless modern pop and R&B tracks.

Get the app: 

iVoxel (iOS, £6.99)

Robovox (Android, £1.49)

4. Chorus

As heard in: Come As You Are, Nirvana

If you play two almost identical sounds at the same time you get a great shimmering effect, and that's what a chorus pedal is designed to produce: it's what makes the bass sound of Come As You Are so distinctive, and it's the sound of The Police's Walking On The Moon, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over and pretty much every 1980s heavy metal ballad.

Get the app: 

AmpliTube (iOS, £Free (in-app purchases))

usbEffects (Android, £1.99)

1/3 next last

Comments

these aren't music creation apps, they're effects apps - I'd really like to see Stuff recommending the best music creation apps available for smartphones

You have to login or register to comment.