Apple's Music Memos is a simple but powerful app for capturing song ideas
When writers get an idea for their new piece, they are conveniently able to jot it down using one of the many note-taking applications available for the iPhone and the iPad. Similarly, visual artists now have all sorts of tools that they can use on the iPad to get the creative juices flowing. For musicians, however, the only way to make sure that a song idea doesn't get away was to grab a pocket recorder app from the App Store. Needless to say, that's hardly a satisfying solution.
As the name implies, the idea behind the Apple's Music Memos app is to enable the quick immortalization of a song idea. Sounds pretty simple in theory, but there's a lot going on under the hood with Music Memos, so let us explore.
Right off the bat, it should be mentioned that Music Memos records and stores uncompressed audio in an attempt to maximize sound quality. Recording music using an iPhone - or any other smartphone, for that matter - is bad enough given the hardware limitations, and it makes sense for Apple to avoid any further deterioration of the sound that may come through lossy compression algorithms.
If you're a guitarist, you're probably going to love the chromatic tuner built straight into Music Memos. Just like with every other similar tuner you can find on the App Store, Music Memos analyzes the pitch of the notes captured by the microphone and displays a graph that represents any possible deviation from what it perceives as the target note.
This chromatic pitch analysis also comes into play after you've finished recording a piece of your upcoming smash hit. The waveform that is created after the user has finished a recording is split into sections based on the pitch, and each one of these segments is annotated with the pitch of the song, allowing musicians to quickly glance over the note/chord progressions.
The same pitch analysis technique is behind another cool feature that Apple has integrated into Music Memos, which is an automatic bass player. The software uses its pitch information to come up with bass lines for your riff. The automatic bass player is nicely complemented by an automatic drummer that analyzes the tempo of your recording and tries to overlay matching beats.
One thing that Apple's Music Memos isn't is a fully-featured digital audio workstation (DAW). See, the app is not designed to fully produce professional music, although it's the perfect app for songwriters looking to quickly capture an idea. The pitch annotations, the automatic bass player, the automatic drummer, these are all features designed to help musicians anticipate what their ideas may sound like if put into practice by a full band in a professional environment.
The app completely free and is now rolling out across App Store servers. Musicians rocking the iPhone 4S / iPad 2 or a newer iOS device might want to check out the new Music Memos app.