5 must-have apps for composers and arrangers on iPhone and iPad.

Introduction

Using apps can drastically improve the way you write music. In this list of must-have apps for composers, I sum up some of the best apps out there that will allow you to take your sheet music writing skills to the next level.

Diederik Mathijs
01 Feb 2020. 3 min read
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Why should you use apps?

Lot's of people still prefer paper as their go-to for writing music. Apps, however, bring some nice advantages to the table that will allow you to broaden your spectrum of music writing skills and become an overall better arranger and composer. Although I will only sum up 5 ios apps that are must-haves for arrangers and composers, there are probably a lot more out there that can help you become a better musician. If you ever find one, please let me know.

The 5 apps we're going to take a look at are:

  1. Tenuto ($3.99)
  2. Music Theory Lesson ($2.99)
  3. Notion ($14.99)
  4. Sheet Music Scanner ($3.99)
  5. Music Memos (Free)

1. Tenuto

Rated 4.8 in the App Store.

Tenuto is a necessity for every musician. As an arranger or composer, you need to grasp fundamental music theory concepts, Tenuto is the app that helps you do exactly that. Tenuto offers its users the ability to browse endless pages of knowledge about music theory concepts. It contains 24 types of exercises like interval training, chord progression exercises, pitch exercises and many more. It learns you everything. If you're looking to brush up your musical theory concepts or are just looking for a way to learn more about a lot of different instruments, this app has got you covered. The high scores its paying users are attributing it is nothing more than well deserved.

    Pro's
  • + Huge amount of knowledge for a small amount of money
  • + Beginner-friendly
  • + Can be used anywhere
  • Con's
  • - 🤔

As you can tell I couldn't come up with any con's. This is simply because this app is amazing. Judge for yourself by taking a look at the reviews in the App Store.

2. Music Theory Lesson

Rated 4.6 in the App Store.

Music Theory Lesson is another high rated app that tries to learn you everything about music theory concepts. It differentiates itself from Tenuto by learning you about music theory incrementally. Music Theory Lesson is primarily for people who are trying to get into music and want to learn the very basics. If you have been looking for a way to get a solid foundation course about music theory in a way that makes sense, this app may be for you. In contrast to Youtube, where it is really hard to learn about music theory in a way that makes sense, Music theory Lesson starts with the basics like teaching you how to read notes, teaching you about chords, key signatures all the way to the more complex stuff like secondary dominance. If you want to become a better sheet music writer this app may help you really understand what you're doing. This makes it a must-have app for composers and arrangers on our list.

    Pro's
  • + Incrementally learning about music theory
  • + Very informative and easy to learn
  • + Can be used anywhere
  • Con's
  • - Not very interactive

3. Notion

Rated 4.0 in the App Store.

Notion is a totally different app from the 2 previous apps. Notion is a notation app that allows you to make your own sheet music on your iPad or iPhone without the monthly cost. Included with the app you get a huge amount of instruments for which you can write sheet music. You can also buy new "instrument packs" if you want to extend the library of default instruments. When you start out a new piece of sheet music on notion it will allow you to select instruments you want to write for. After that, it just works like any other music notation software on your pc. Once you've written a part of music you play it back to hear if it sounds good. At the end of the process, once you've completely written your sheet music you will be able to export your work in a midi, MulsicXML or any of the other support export formats.

    Pro's
  • + No monthly cost
  • + Easily export using cloud applications
  • + Can be used anywhere
  • Con's
  • - High initial cost

4. Sheet Music Scanner

Rated 4.5 in the App Store.

Sheet Music Scanner is nothing else that what the name describes, a sheet music scanner. It allows you to scan pdf's using the camera of your iPhone or iPad and export it to a format like MusicXML or midi. This comes in handy if you only have an arrangement in pdf format and you quickly want to work with the piece in your audio processing software. It appears to be wonky sometime, simply because applications like this one have limitations but the good rating on the App Store shows that people are prepared to pay for the app nonetheless.

    Pro's
  • + Low cost
  • + Quickly scan your sheet music and export to different formats
  • + Can be used anywhere
  • Con's
  • - Has limitations and may sometimes not 100% correctly parse your partition

5. Music Memos

Rated 3.4 in the App Store.

Music memo is the only free app on the list and for this, you get a lot of value. It functions as a voice recorder but will tell you what chord progression and what key you are currently singing in. It will convert that into sections so that when you change pitch it changes with you. There are lots of times as a composer that you have to sing something before you forget it and this app allows you to do exactly that. If you're in public you can quickly go to the bathroom sing your song into the app and it will be ready for you to work with once you come home. It's also great for changing the time signature or speed which allows you to do in order for you to get an idea of how it sounds. It also allows you to add a backing track to your singing in order for you to get an idea of how it would sound in different genres of music.

    Pro's
  • + Free
  • + Easy to use
  • + Can be used anywhere
  • Con's
  • - Seems to have trouble with longer songs

Conclusion

In this short article, we went over 5 apps that are must-haves for any composer, arranger or singer/songwriter. We've seen that all these apps have the advantage of being portable, something that we're often looking for in our active lives. I've tried to keep all information short because with apps you have to try them out yourself in order to really see if they are something for you. If you have any apps you would like to see us add to the list, let us know! 😊

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