Teach yourself music with the GALAXY Note 8.0
19th Aug 2013 | 06:52
10 apps to help you become a musical maestro
When it comes to music, do you know your augmented sevenths from your diminished fifths? Or do you think a treble clef is something Manchester United won back in 1999?
Whether you're already a musical master or you're simply looking to pick up and learn an instrument for the first time, the GALAXY Note 8.0 is a great looking and lightweight teaching tool with all the features you need to help you progress as a performer.
So to be sure to impress your friends, check out our top 10 apps below.
1. Note Trainer (Sight Reading)
£1 – Buy it here
The earliest form of musical notation is said to date back to around 2000 BC, meaning it's had quite some time to develop into the global system it's become today.
Unfortunately, learning to sight read music is still something of a bugbear for many students, which is why Big Box Labs' Note Trainer app takes the entertaining route of turning sight reading into a Guitar Hero-style timing game.
The aim is to press the keys on the bottom half of the screen as notation appears along the treble clef staves at the top. The game increases in speed and difficulty over time until you won't survive unless you can almost immediately match the on-screen note to its corresponding key.
As you might expect, the later rounds can get quite heated, and before long you're finger tap dancing on the screen, which makes it easy to slip up and press a wrong note. For extra precision, slide the GALAXY Note 8.0's S Pen between your thumb and index finger to make sure you always hit the right keys at speed.
It's worth shelling out a pound for the paid version too, so you can learn the bass clef and round off your sight-reading abilities. Also, by using the Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0's Quick Command feature, you can create an easy and memorable symbol shortcut to the app, for super speedy access with a swift scribble of the S Pen.
2. Musical Pro
£2.63 – Buy it here
Musical Pro aims to turn you into a fully-fledged musician, one note at a time. It's all about improving your rhythm by making you hit certain keys in time to sequenced notes that appear on the screen.
Thankfully, it avoids one of the more common complaints aimed at instrumental apps on smartphones – that of small screen size and fiddly keys. The Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0's generous 8-inch WXGA TFT display suffers from no such problems, making full use of the tablet's screen by laying out a two-octave stacked piano that doubles the length of the keys.
It also provides satisfying haptic feedback when keys are pressed, resulting in a more realistic playing experience. An additional selection of sounds, from organs to electronic keyboards, adds to the variety.
3. Piano Companion
Piano Companion sets out to be a one-stop-shop for piano players, giving them a quick and easy reference to turn to when practising or writing songs.
With a database of 1,500 piano chords and over 500 scales, your progress on the ivories won't be held back by a lack of knowledge if you're using this app.
A chord progression feature also allows you to line up various chords to be played back at a certain tempo, paving the way for improvised solos or laying more chords over the top. If drilling down into various chord types is your thing, you won't find a more comprehensive musical dictionary than this.
4. Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro
£3.12 – Buy it here
Whatever instrument you play, there often comes a time when you're ready to sit down and try your hand at songwriting. Many musicians tend to run into a brick wall at that point, haphazardly throwing chords in left and right in the hope of producing something that fits.
Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro looks to end this problem by providing a visual and interactive system that allows songwriters to hear, analyse and compose harmonic progressions in any key. Simply put, if you enter a chord, it'll show you what other chords you could play after it without it sounding like you're veering off into an unexpected and jarring musical wilderness.
This should help you learn which chords relate to others, and, more importantly, which ones sound good when played together. Unless you're planning on playing just three chords for the rest of your life, this is no bad thing at all.
Another neat feature is the app's ability to instantly transpose your chord progression to another key by tapping on the on-screen keyboard. This is where whipping out the GALAXY Note 8.0's S Pen to tap around comes in handy, particularly for the budding "fuller-fingered" composers out there!
5. Adictum Drum Lessons
Free – Get it here
Rock god Dave Grohl didn't learn the drums in a day, but if he'd had a GALAXY Note 8.0 and Suonnica's Adictum Drum Lessons app, he might have got there a lot quicker.
Rather than pawing away at on-screen drums like a child with a plastic Fisher Price set, Adictum is all about playing along on a real drum set by hitting certain parts of the kit in time as notation appears on the screen. You can try your hand (or two) at songs included with the app, or you can customise the app by writing in your own drum notation to practise along to.
Alongside various rhythmic patterns of increasing difficulty, a number of exercises are also included to help you hone your drumming in certain areas. Additionally, videos accompany all of the lessons offered in the app, providing a quick reference point if you get stuck.
6. Guitar Lessons Free
Free – Get it here
Let's face it – the fretboard is a large and scary place for any beginner guitarist. Not only do you have to learn the names of 22 notes on the E string, you then have to do it all over again another five times.
Thankfully, your Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0 has it covered. This free Guitar Lessons app contains 19 lessons, in addition to a guide on reading tab notation that helps you read and write guitar tabs.
It's aimed at the complete beginner, starting with basics like how to hold and tune the guitar, then running all the way up to learning chord theory and arpeggios. You'll need an internet connection to view it, which is a small ask for a level of information usually found in thick, expensive tutorial magazines.
7. Guitar Jam Tracks: Scale Buddy
£1.86 – Buy it here
The pentatonic scale has formed the most valuable set of notes in an improvising guitarist's toolset since the dawn of rock 'n' roll. It was good enough for Jimi Hendrix, and it can make you sound like a pro with a little practice too.
Scale Buddy not only displays box diagrams to help you learn minor and major pentatonic scales in every natural key, it also provides a looping backing track that you can practise over.
From various styles of blues to jazz, modern rock and reggae, the app will have guitarists reaching for their instrument for anything from a quick practice to an hour long jam session.
8. Perfect Ear
Perfect Ear is an innovative app that can help any musician improve their accuracy in identifying musical sounds.
While it features interval training for guitar, piano and bass, it's particularly useful for vocalists wanting to hone their pitch accuracy, thanks to a feature that uses the GALAXY Note 8.0's built-in microphone to detect the pitch of a singer's voice.
While few people in the world are 'pitch perfect' – able to identify the pitch of a note upon hearing it – improving your sense of pitch can help you learn scales and pick more appropriate chords when penning songs (when you're not using the Mapping Tonal Harmony app, that is).
Perfect Ear aims to help you on your way by providing a scale viewer, seven exercise types and the ability to program custom exercises.
9. Ukulele Fretboard
Free – Get it here
The ukulele is an instrument more closely associated with the idyllic beaches of Hawaii rather than the rainy British Isles, meaning it usually plays second fiddle to other stringed instruments (which probably includes the fiddle, come to think of it).
Ukulele Fretboard is a simple yet effective app that shows you around the fretboard and helps you practise fingering chords variations. You can also pick out scales using a 'Scale Explorer' mode that lets you discover ascending scale patterns as they progress up the fretboard, revealed by swiping the GALAXY Note 8.0's capacitive touch screen.
It adds the ability to save customised chords by pressing the appropriate fret and string, and sequences can be saved and displayed down the left hand side of the screen to help you play through songs. Just think, you could be the next Jake Shimabukuro with a little practice.
10. SPC – Music Sketchpad 2
£4.99 – Buy it here
We're going to stay clear of 'real world' instruments for the last entry on our list, if only because an ever growing legion of superstar DJs shows that not only is electronic music hugely popular, it's also an equally valid form of composition in the modern age.
SPC's Music Sketchpad 2 app is all about triggering samples in a certain order; anything from drum hits to electronic pads and brass instruments. Fully optimised for the GALAXY Note 8.0's generous 8-inch screen, Sketchpad 2 allows you to create your own samples by playing notes on an on-screen keyboard, which can then be edited using multiple effects processors.
Recordings of performances can be exported to a PC for further editing or to be shared, and you can even lay your own voice over tracks using the device's built-in microphone.