Technology has dramatically changed how we learn and teach music! Apps (applications) that can be easily downloaded and used on any smartphone and tablet are a great way to improve your musical training and knowledge!
Below I've included a list of my favourite apps and websites, which I use regularly to teach Irish traditional music and learn new tunes. They are all worth buying!
- TunePal by Bryan Duggan (£3.99): it is true that this is probably the most useful tool for all musicians playing traditional music particularly Irish, Scots, Welsh and Breton music. By simply pointing your iPhone towards a music performance (any instrument or group of instruments), this app will search through a database of over 22,000 tunes and find the tune for you! Once it has found the tune, you can download it to your phone and view it and even edit the notation (ABC and standard notation), play it back, and share via email or post it to Facebook. This is quite simply an essential app to have, especially if you go to a session and want to know what the musicians are playing!
- Tunebook SD by JH Labs (£1.49): this app is an absolute must for anyone learning Irish traditional music (or any other folk music for that matter)! You will never have to buy another tune book again. The app allows you to import files in the ABC format from websites (like the session.org) into its database. You can then list the tunes, search for tunes by words in the title, by key and by time signature. Selecting a tune will display it in musical notation and ABC format and it will allow you to play it in a variety of voices (including piano), and slow it down to make it easier to learn the tune. You can also create tunebooks to organize your tune collection. Given that you can also download this app to your iPhone, it's also very handy to use when you're in a session environment and you need some quick inspiration or a reminder of a tune! Easy to use and a bargain!
- ScoreCloud by DoReMIR Music Research AB (£0.79): with the first app you could listen to a musician playing a tune, find notation for the tune, edit it and save it. With the second app you could search through thousands of tunes, organise all your tunes into collections and slow tunes down to learn them. But what if you want to play a tune (or even compose a tune) and have it written out for you? With this app you can play, sing or whistle any melody and instantly turn it into music notation. The app automatically finds the correct pitch, time signature, rhythm and tempo! Then you can edit the notated tune, change playback sound, save it in the app, print it off or share it with others. This app works for any style of music (not just traditional!). ScoreCloud also offer free notation software on their website
- The Session.Org is simply the place to go if you're looking for a tune, or if you need information about an artist and their CDs, or if you some advice in the discussion forums about any issue relating to traditional music you can think of. The session.org maintains perhaps the greatest collection of traditional dance tunes in the world (by now it must have tens of thousands) and it's completely free to use. Dozens of new tunes, CDs and artists are added every month and every tune also also includes variations. Every tune and its variations are given in ABC and standard notation, which you can download or print off. You can search for tunes by type (reel, jig etc.,) by key (including traditional modes), by title, by the opening ABC notation, by artist or by album. I use this all the time to learn tunes I hear on CDs. Discussion topics could be anything from advice about buying an instrument, or good sessions to attend, or festival information - you name it the session.org probably has a discussion about it somewhere on their website. Just type in your query in the search title and get connected to people who share the same interests as you.