Digital Life

Apple's new Music Memos app gives you your own back-up band

Everyone wants their own backing band, right?

Apple's new Music Memos app, out today for free on iOS, can do just that — give you your own personal bassist and drummer, to play along with your guitar or piano composition, in time and in tune with whatever creation comes from your mind.

The new Music Notes app lets you record song ideas at the press of a button, and add accompaniment that plays along.
The new Music Notes app lets you record song ideas at the press of a button, and add accompaniment that plays along. Photo: Apple

Perhaps your computer music software can do this, but we've never seen any mobile app offer this kind of instant band-in-a-box, for free, and so effectively.

If you love to fool around with musical instruments, Music Memos is one of the cooler offerings from the Apple toolbox, and should keep you busy for hours.

The inspiration is Voice Memos, the Apple audio recording app built into iOS devices, which was designed for dictation, and beloved by musicians looking for a tool to belt out a quick riff, lyric or musical idea.

Voice Memos became so popular on iPhone, the folks at Apple had a brainstorm.


With Music Memos, you can record yourself singing, or playing guitar or piano, and play it back instantly.

The coolest feature is the back-up band. Once your song is recorded —by using the iPhone, iPad or iPod mic — you can either listen to it as pure guitar, piano or vocals, or click the bass and drums button to add the extra instruments.

You can change the key, alter the rhythm, change the feel of the drummer or bass, and — if you really want to go crazy —you can then take it to Apple's more full featured Garage Band app, and add more layers on top of it.

(Speaking of GarageBand — Apple also updated the mobile version of the music app today with more tools to make electronic music.)

In Voice Memos, once you've recorded, you can share the file in e-mail, text or Dropbox. In the music app, beyond GarageBand, you can also post instantly to SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes.

In using Music Memos to its fullest, the basic recording couldn't be easier — just get your device near your instrument.

The trick is getting the automatic drums in time with your playing. I tried some solo guitar riffing at first, and just couldn't get the drums in sync with me. But when I started each song with some strumming, the beat was way more consistent. You'll need lots of trial and error on this to get it right.

Music Memos is available in the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch.

USA Today

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