Music Memos

Apple released a new free app for iPhone and iPad this week that allows music creators to easily capture new ideas. You can sign or play an instrument and record it. You can add backing bass and drums and play around with the song. You can then export to Garageband or upload to a number of different places.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Music Memos.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's take a look at the new app, Music Memos.

So you can get Music Memos from the App Store. It's free. It's from Apple. I assume it works only on the latest hardware so you're going to have a fairly recent iPhone or iPad. I'm using last year's iPhone 6+ and it works fine. However it is kind of buggy. On my iPad Air 2 it didn't really work because the record volume was always way too low. So hopefully there will be some fixes soon and it will work for more people.

When you go into it it is a fairly simple interface. Big button in the middle of the screen that allows you to start recording. There's an Auto button at the upper left hand corner that supposedly will start recording when you start playing or singing but it doesn't quite work. It was always a fraction of a second too late for me so it cut off the beginning. Then a File cabinet for you to review the stuff that you've made. Also a Tuner at the upper right.

So if you go into the Tuner it basically just listens and tries to figure out what note you are trying to play on an instrument and shows you how close you are. So here on a ukulele it correctly identifies that I'm playing the G string and you can see it wavering a lot because it is just a ukulele so it doesn't really hit it perfect. But you can use it to tune just about anything. A guitar or whatever you want.

So going back to the main interface let's just record something. I'm just going to play on this ukulele here. You can be thankful that I'm not going to try to sing. Just do something quick. I had an idea for a song and I just want to record it. So I hit the record button and play. Then I hit Stop and you can see I've got a musical track there at the bottom of the screen now. I have a Play button and I can play it back. Let's take a look at what we can do with it.

Of course I can hit the Play button and play it back. You can see I've got that blank spot. Now it starts playing. I can also go ahead and trim it. So the way I'm going to do that is I'm going to tap on the visual representation of the music there and it will expand it. Then I can hit various kinds of things here. I can change the time signature. For instance if it is instead of 4/4 I can give it a hit down there. I can also change the downbeat and speed up the tempo.

Now that's going to effect when I add backing instruments because you can add backing bass and drums to this. So it won't actually change the speed of what I've played, it is going to change the speed of what's backing it. Let's just use the ability to crop it now. So I hit Done at the top and I'm going to hit the cropping tool. I'm going to change it so it starts there where the music starts and end where the music ends. You can see it right there with the red lines.

I'm going to hit trim and unfortunately it only allows you to save it as a New idea. So it doesn't allow you to actually go ahead and just edit what you've got. So I have to go back and delete the original now. Now I've just got it kind of set just the segment that is music there.

So I can go back and if I hit the File cabinet at the top now I have to select the copy there. See on my list there is the copy and I'm going to select that and double tap that and go into it. Now I can see I've got just that section there in this new version of the file. You kind of have to play around. You are going to end up with a lot of extra little files there that you can delete.

But this is what I want here so now I'll start to add some backing stuff to it.

So you see I've got those two buttons at the bottom and I can tap them to turn them off or turn them on. I can do that while it is playing. So I'll start playing and then I'll add drums in and then I'll add bass. It is subtle but it does fill in a little bit there. I can do that and I can also go in and change things about them. For instance if I tap and hold the drums I can now change where that dot it and go between loud and quiet and complete and simple.

I can change what is there. I can also change between Modern Kit and Vintage Kit and you can change, on the right there, the type of drums. I can go to bass and also do similar changes there. Change between Upright and Electric for what I want and you can see all the time the music just keeps moving.

Now what it is actually doing here is it is trying to figure out what cords you are playing. You can see it guessed the cords G, A, G, A here. You can change that. I'm going to hit that cord notation there, Cm7 there, I'm going to change that and I can actually select a section, change what cord it is, take the cord out, set it to be a cord with no band, and do all sorts of things. Even hit Custom, do all sorts of things with these sections here. Play around with it a lot. It is kind of tricky but you can actually add sections in, remove sections if you play around with it. So you can change what the backing cords are going to be played there on the bass.

When you are done with this you can use the Share button there at the upper right to export it. You can export it to a variety of places including Notes. You can send it to GarageBand where you can continue to develop the song. You can email it. Even upload this directly to YouTube. I can export it to iTunes. iCloud Drive is nice because it gives me the ability to export it and I can mix it down or do it as GarageBand so I can get it right over to my Mac and continue working on the song even just as a plain audio file which is really nice.

So a lot of nice features built into what is otherwise a very simple tool for just playing around with music. It's free and worth just playing around and trying it if you are at all interested in using your iOS devices for making music.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Music Memos”

    3 years ago

    Is this app capable to record and add a particular instrument like a bass guitar then add it to a song out of my iTunes to do a YouTube bass cover?
    Or is it limited to adding the desired track I make to a backing track?

    3 years ago

    Lori: Not sure what you are asking. You can always export to GarageBand and then copy and paste tracks between songs as you please. Try it for yourself and you’ll see what it can do.

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