Weird and Wonderful Music-Making Apps and Toys

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Misa Digital Kitara Guitar

Guitar apps for tablets are pretty commonplace now, but the Kitara Touchscreen Guitar (Misa Digital) takes the concept a step further by building a guitar around a tablet-size touchscreen computer. Just as on a real guitar, you select the notes you want to play on the fretboard, and then strum the six glowing strings on the display. The Kitara contains a synth to create various sounds, and some of them don’t sound like a guitar at all. But it isn't cheap--the device is selling for $1100 at Sweetwater today.

AmpliTube iRig and AmpliTube App for iPad

I know more than a few guitarists who are salivating over this product. AmpliTube comprises a simple cable interface that lets you plug your electric guitar into your iPhone or iPad, plus an app that replicates the sounds of a bunch of classic amps and guitar effects. You can monitor it with headphones, or run it into your Marshall stacks for live shredding. You can also record your performances. I'm not sure about the sound quality of these emulations, but I can see a day when one iPad (and perhaps a foot-pedal controller) might replace a whole rack of guitar pedals.

Korg Electribe R Synth

Dance-music producers have used Korg's Electribe percussion synth and sequencer for a decade. The people at Korg decided to make an iPad app based on the device. Actually, “based on” is probably not the right term--the app interface looks just like the real hardware, and works the same way too. The sounds the app makes are also very true to the sounds that the original produces, although probably not close to the same quality. Still, its a cool marriage of the tablet PC with an instrument that seems well suited for an app.


This one is a little silly, but I included it just to demonstrate the lengths people are going to in their efforts to make phones and tablets emulate real instruments. Plus, with this app, you get to put your phone in your mouth, something people around the globe yearn to do.

Piano Accordio Pro

Another sort of silly one. But wait: Piano Accordio Pro actually sounds kind of good, and the little buttons look like they work pretty well. And yes, here’s a video of somebody playing this thing at a live gig.

GarageBand for iPad

People have written about this app extensively, but it's my personal fave. Apple's digital audio recording program GarageBand lends itself to the the tablet platform astonishingly well. GarageBand started out on the desktop, and since its debut it has stayed very simple to use, while adding more and more loops, virtual instruments, and advanced music processing chops. The introduction of all that tech to the tablet app, of course, makes the app that much more portable, and the touchscreen is awesome for playing GarageBand’s wide array of virtual instruments. For musicians--beginner to expert--this single app justifies the purchase of an iPad.

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