One of the good reasons for jazz players to own an iPad is the ability of using it as a score reader. Unfortunately,finding a score reader app that satisfies all your needs might not be as simple as you might imagine. Before diving into a more detailed review,let me briefly outline the features that,in my opinion,the ideal music reader app should have to appeal a demanding jazz/rock/pop/fusion player.
The primary goal for such an app is replacing tons of fake books and paper scores,therefore the most obvious feature is ability to store,browse,search,annotate,and bookmark large PDF files,such as the many editions of the Real Book and other fake books you can find on the Internet. If you play original compositions or songs that aren’t included in those fake books,adding your own PDF should be a very quick and simple process.
Secondly,I want the ability to associate one audio file to each score,so that I don’t have to switch to the iPad music player to listen to the original song or practice over a play-along version of the tune (e.g. Aebersold or Hal Leonard CDs). Ideally,I’d like to associate a given score to multiple audio files,so that I can quickly reach different versions of the same song,or play-along tunes with different tempo or harmonization.
Another important feature is the ability to quickly e-mail my scores to other musicians,backup them on the desktop computer (or the cloud,Dropbox,etc.),move scores and associated audio files to another iPad,create song subsets (great for creating the song list for a gig),and print them when necessary. Additionally,a perfect score reader should automatically turn pages,or at least give you the ability to do that with a foot controller.
There are a few other,less critical features I’d like to see in a music reader app:a metronome,a tuner,a virtual keyboard (very useful if you are a singer or a choir director). Being an alto and soprano sax player,I’d also like the capability to store multiple versions of the same song,one transposed in Eb and one in Bb.
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As I anticipated,finding the music reader app that fulfills all my needs hasn’t been simple.
The first one I tried was forScore. It features an elegant and simple user interface,an integrated music player,the ability to turn half-pages (i.e. displaying the upper half of next page while you read the bottom half of current page),and an impressive arsenal of tools and music symbols for annotating a PDF score. Unfortunately,forScore doesn’t provide indexes for the most popular fake books,therefore you have to create such indexes manually. (Alas,the app occasionally crashed when trying to organize and re-arrange large PDFs.) All in all,forScore is a good app that addresses the needs of classical music players,yet it is less useful for jazz and rock musicians.
My next attempt was iGigBook,which claims to be the perfect replacement for jazz and rock fake books:it comes with the index of 70+ popular fake books (including many editions of the Real Book,with Bb and Eb versions),plus over the chord progressions of 1,000+ jazz tunes that can be transposed to any key. While these indexes are theoretically very useful,in practice they work flawlessly only if you own exactly the same PDF used to create the index,which isn’t often the case:iGigBook provides a way to define a page offset and compensate for missing pages near the beginning of the PDF,but if your PDF lacks one or more pages in the middle or if own a PDF of a different version of the fake book used to create the index,the iGigBook index is useless. (Needless to say,the iGigBook documentation can’t include links to the PDFs used the create the index,because it would infringe copyright laws.)
In practice,only few of the PDFs I own perfectly match iGigBook indexes,thus I had to create my own indexes. Unfortunately,creating a custom index is a slow and an (unnecessarily) contorted process:you must upload the PDF to the iGigBook website (after creating an account),then enter information about individual songs (title,start page,number of page,etc.),one by one. If your Internet connection isn’t optimal,the workflow can take a lot of time. There is the option to upload a text file in comma-delimited format,containing data of multiple songs,but quite absurdly this simplified procedure can be used only for PDFs with 50 or more songs. This threshold prevents me from using the simplified upload method for many of my scores (e.g.,none the Aebersold booklets can be uploaded in this way). Once you have (painfully) created your indexes,you must download them from the iGigBook site to your device,which happens automatically the next time you launch the app. iGigBook checks for new indexes every time you launch the app,which can be a serious nuisance if you are on stage.
iGigBook has other shortcomings too:its interface isn’t user friendly,it doesn’t offer context-sensitive help and,more importantly,it lacks many other features which I consider as essential. For example,it doesn’t allow associating any audio file,limited sorting capabilities,no integrated tuner or metronome. Conclusion:after wasting a lot of time for my tests,I decided to delete iGigBook from my iPad. For sure,it isn’t worth the $15 I paid for it.
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There are a few other score reader programs in the App Store,but their feature list was too short and/or readers’ comments were negative,thus I was about to abandon my search for the ideal iPad score reader when I finally bumped into Calypso Score.
Calypso has an impressive set of features,which almost perfectly matches my wish list. For example,it can handle large PDFs and associate any number of audio files to any song. In addition to setlists,you can create “books”,i.e. collections of scores that you can then share using iTunes,iCloud,Bluetooth,Dropbox or email. A song can belong to zero,one or more books,and all of them are automatically inserted in the special “All my songs” book (see figure). You can remove a song from a book,but it will be deleted from the device only if you delete it from the main “All my songs” book.
The book list in Calypso
You can assign a color label to a song for your own purposes. For example,I might use a red label for songs I play on alto and yellow label for those I play on soprano,but you can find other interesting uses. You can sort the songs in a book by their title,composer,poet (i.e. lyrics’ author),genre,color label,or creation date.
Calypso comes with indexes for many popular fake books in PDF format and,as it happens for iGigBook,you have to create the index manually if you don’t own the same PDF file used to create the index that comes with the app. However,the workflow to extract a song from a large PDF is much simpler than in iGigBook:you open the PDF (which you must have copied to the device using iTunes sharing),move to the page where the song begins,and press the “Add Page” button once for each page in the song. It took me a relatively short time to index a couple hundred songs from my Real Books. As a bonus,you can quickly create a page from a photo taken with the iPad camera,which is very useful during jam sessions.
Unlike forScore and iGigBook,Calypso doesn’t really create an index into PDF files. Instead,it allows you to browse a PDF and then take “snapshots” of one or more pages,which don’t have to be consecutive. This approach has so many benefits that it surprises me that other apps fail to adopt it. For example,individual pages can be resized,tilted and cropped to better fit the iPad display. These snapshots are stored in a single database and you can later remove the original PDF,so you don’t actually waste any memory on the device. In addition to pages and songs,the database includes books,song information and annotation:you can backup this database to your computer or copy it to another iPad. Even more important,a score can be formed by pages taken from different PDFs,thus I can combine the Eb and Bb version of a song (taken from different Real Book editions) in a single score,so I can switch between these versions by simply swiping to the next or previous page.
Calypso can associate a song with one or more audio files from the iPad music library,a feature that I consider as essential when practicing. These audio files aren’t stored in the database,yet an option allows you to show them in the iTunes folder,so that you can easily backup them and move them to another iPad. By the way,you can also record an audio file yourself using the iPad mic,a feature that might be used to music teachers to monitor their students. Calypso lets you to slow down an audio file and/or modify its pitch,a feature that can be very useful when practicing over a though piece of music. There are other iPad apps that offer this feature alone (and honestly do a better job than Calypso),but having it embedded in the score reader app is a real bonus.
Calypso lets you associate one or more songs to each score
One of the most intriguing features is automatic page layout,i.e. the ability to create jumps and bookmarks inside a song,and synchronize them with the associated audio file,so that Calypso can automatically turn pages for you. The process to associate a measure in the score to a position in the audio file is simple and effective:you just tap an area in the score while the tune is playing (see figure below). Calypso can interpolate between the bookmarks you defined,therefore you only need to tap when there is a repetition or a-capo,or when the tempo gets faster or slower. All in all,automatic page layout puts Calypso ahead of its competitors,even though – admittedly – preparing a score for it requires a good degree of manual labor.
An example of automatic page layoyut (taken from Calypso's user manual)
Calypso includes a simple metronome and the ability to annotate the score with text and markers,even though it isn’t as flexible as forScore in this respect. It lacks a tuner,a virtual keyboard,and a few other frills. It does have the ability to turn pages using a Bluetooth foot controller such as Air Turn BT-105.,yet I would also like to see the same half-page turn feature seen in forScore,that would be useful with scores that haven’t been prepared for automatic page layout.
All in all,Calypso is very robust and can be used with confidence both at home and during gigs. To tell the truth,the program crashed a few times during my tests,but I was impressed by how quickly the offending bugs were found and fixed. Not only that:Siegfried Koester,the developer behind Calypso,was nice enough to share with me some details about future development plans,which are very interesting.
Like any piece of software,Calypso isn’t perfect,even though it gets quite close. Some users have complained that the program didn’t behave as they expected,and wrote somewhat negative reviews on the App Store. In many cases,however,the workflow makes sense once you understand that Calypso stores PDF scores using snapshots rather than indexes. It is essential that you read its manual before trying to use it in a real environment. Calypso’s most recent release offers a more detailed context-sensitive help and introductory screens,thus this is going to be less of a problem.
Context-sensitive help,with links to the relevant section in the manual
Calypso shares with iGigBook the limitation of pre-built,non-flexible indexes for popular fake books. However,the author told me that a future release will make much simpler to modify existing indexes to adapt to PDFs with missing pages or taken from different editions of a given fake book.
There are a few other features I’d like to see in Calypso,for example additional fields for song metadata and the ability to filter the song list by these fields;the capability to loop between two positions in the audio files,that would be useful to practice the most difficult sections of a song;an integrated tuner and virtual keyboard (as in forScore);the ability to turn page using the new IK Multimedia’s iRig Blueboard or other MIDI foot controllers (in addition to dedicated Bluetooth page turner foot controllers). These are minor improvements,though,and the author told me that some of them (and many others) are planned for future versions of Calypso.
The bottom line:if you own an iPad,Calypso Score is a must-have! It changed the way I study and play with my band. At just $6 it’s a bargain you can’t miss.
P.S. If you aren’t sure yet,try Calypso Jam:it’s a free version that comes with indexes for 25 popular fake books and allows you to add a limited number of personal scores,so you can see whether Calypso Score is your ideal music score reader app without spending a dime.
Thanks to Michael Neff for sending one dozen trumpet solos transcriptions from his personal collection!
If you like this material,pay a visit to Michael website.
I’ve updated the saxophone and trumpet solo index with about one hundred new transcriptions.
Some of the new additions are actually great videos that show the score WHILE playing the actual solo,which is a terrific educational approach. The ability to visualize the melodic lines and listen to the music at the same time reveals a lot about the performer’s intention and style.
Big thanks to Geoff Spector for sharing several transcriptions with saxopedia!
Thomas Høeg-Jensen from Denmark transcribed a lot of solos in the ’80s,from funk and fusion sax players of the caliber of David Sanborn,Michael Brecker,Tom Scott,Marc Russo,and Jay Beckenstein. He kept this precious material in the closet until last week,when he scanned the hand-written scores and sent them over to Saxopedia. You can find these never-published-before solos in the transcription index.
I just discovered a very informative lecture by sax/ewi expert Alistair Parnell,that covers an introduction to the EWI,demonstrations of sounds,sampled sound via laptop computer,looper pedals and software sound manipulation. The lecture was given at XVI Worlds Saxophone Congress St Andrews 2012 (Scotland) and the YouTube video has been viewed fewer than two thousand times,which is a shame because it deserves a much broader audience. Give it a look and share!
Saxopedia is a website devoted to sax playing,and more in general jazz/rock improvisation with traditional acoustic instruments. However,I am more and more intrigued by the countless possibilities of the computer as an innovative force in music,from education to training,composition and live performance. I have written a few MIDI-oriented apps for Windows,and sooner or later I will publish them on this site.
I have used my PC to help me in my musical interests for years,yet more recently I really fell in love with the iPhone and the iPad for their enormous potential in virtually any music field. There are thousands and thousands iOS music apps,ranging from toy apps that are just pastimes to professional DAWs that allow you to author a song from beginning to end,with every degree in the middle.
A noteworthy difference between the iPad and the PC/Mac environments is that in the latter case you have relatively few software to choose from:Ableton Live,Reason,FL Studio,Logic,and a few others. You tipically don’t need to purchase and learn more than two or three of them,because they are enough flexible to satisfy most of (or all) your needs.
Conversely –and in spite of the short time elapsed since iPad debut –the number of music apps that run on iOS device is overwhelming. There are a few established leading apps –e.g. GarageBand,Music Studio or SampleTank –but none of them is sufficiently powerful to meet all the requirements you might have. For example,I routinely use no fewer than 30 music iOS apps,ranging from drum machines,synthesizers,samplers,effects,and loop stations to MIDI editors,MIDI controllers,audio processors,multi-track recorders and various utilities.
In recent years I have spent a lot of time and energies (and money!) trying many different iOS music apps,and I’d like sharing the results of my researches with saxopedia readers. For this reason,I am opening a new section titled Best iOS Music Apps,where you can find the list of my favorite apps.
There are many websites and blogs that do a great job in keeping us up-to-date about new iOS music apps,for example dischord and Palm Sounds. I don’t want to duplicate the information you can find on these great sites,which in fact are among my primary sources of information.
However,a quick look at these sites show that many –if not the majority –of existing music apps they review are meant for people who don’t necessarily studied music and who are more interested in ambient and dance music,including styles such as trance,D’n B,techno,etc. With all my respect for sort of music,these styles aren’t at the top of my interests and probably this is true for most saxopedia aficionados,who are more likely to be “traditional”players who can leverage a good knowledge of music theory,harmony,scales,improvisation,etc.
Saxopedia’s Best iOS Music Apps section is going to be different from what you can find elsewhere on the Internet. To being with,it contains a selection of the best-of-the-breed apps that,in my opinion,can be useful to amateurs and professional musicians,with an interest in jazz,rock,pop and R&B and who are interested in adding new possibilities to their live equipment,or in practicing/improvising/composing music in a novel way.
For example,you will find delay/reverb/chorus processors,harmonizers,loop stations and MIDI controllers that cost one hundredth of equivalent hardware devices,including pitch-to-MIDI apps that allow you to convert the acoustic sound of your sax,trumpet,clarinet,flute or guitar into a MIDI message that can drive a software or hardware synth. Likewise,you can find apps to practice ear training,to learn how to improvise with scales and chords or that can replace tons of printed music scores.
Another important difference from the reviews you can find elsewhere is that I am inclined NOT to add an app to my list if the list already contains applications with similar or better features. There are exceptions to this rule –for example,free and less expensive apps are often included even if there the list already includes a similar,nonfree app –but in general the items in the list don’t overlap with each other. To you this means that you can avoid cluttering the scarce memory of your iOS device with apps that substantially perform the same task.
Currently this section includes the description of nearly one hundredmusic apps,grouped by their main functionality:
- Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)
- Synths and samplers
- Percussion and Drum machines
- Effects for voice,guitar,and other instruments
- DJ-ing and alternative music players
- Apps for learning music
- MIDI controllers
For each application I provide a separate page with a more detailed descriptions,demo/review videos,links to the app home page,manual,forum,etc. Also important is the compatibility list,where you can quickly check whether the app supports specific iOS protocols (e.g. Core Audio,Core MIDI,Virtual MIDI,Audiobus),hardware accessories,direct upload to DropBox or SoundCloud,and more.
UPDATE: in the App Compatibility Table you can compare all the apps in the new section and check which ones support a give hardware or software protocol,such as Core MIDI,Virtual MIDI,or Audiobus.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please notice that saxopedia is NOT associated with any software vendor and that I have not used any complimentary review copy to create the list. An app is in the list only if it meets my personal criteria for inclusion and not to return the favor of a review copy.
Creating the section and keeping it up-to-date has been and will be a major effort. I hope you can appreciate and will benefit from it. Needless to say,please let me know if you use an app that you believe should be added to the list.
NOTE FOR ITALIAN READERS:I have written a book entirely devoted to this topic,entitled Fare musica con il tuo iPad (Make Music with your iPad),where I cover the many facets of this fascinating field. You can find more on saxopedia’s Italian edition.
With today’s additions Saxopedia’s index contains 1521 sax solo transcriptions,plus 1520 transcriptions of other instruments.
This amounts to no fewer than 6-7000 printed pages in total. Or nearly FOUR days of continuous playing,if you prefer! WOW!
I’ve been practicing for a while on Robert Hartig’s The Giant Steps Scratch Pad Complete,whose subtitle –155 Licks and Patterns in Every Key to Help You Master John Coltrane’s Challenging Tune –gives quite a precise idea of what it’s all about.
What the title and subtitle don’t say is how well the book is organized. Unlike most other pattern books,which take a pattern and transpose it along all twelve keys,this book takes the opposite approach:it contains twelve chapters,one for each key. The material is basically the same for each chapter,except that highest or lowest notes might be altered to fit the sax range.
Each chapter is 20 pages long and is further subdivided in two sections,which reflect Giant Steps’A-B structure,where A and B sections are 8 measures each. (Section A is what is usually referred to as the “Giant Steps cycle”.) Patterns in the “A”section of each chapter are 4-measure long and must be manually transposed by a major third down to cover the 8 measures,whereas patterns in the “B”section of each chapter are 8-measure long and require no manual transposition.
Both “A”and “B”chapter sections end with one page devoted to patterns over the augmented scale. This is interesting because you can play the augmented scale over the entire Giant Step progression without sounding too dissonant. (You can also sound too boring,if you play the augmented scale long enough,but that’s another story…).
My experience with this book is quite positive. Most patterns aren’t the kind of 1-2-3-5 pattern that you can find in other similar books and are more musical and less predictable than most Giant Steps pattern seen elsewhere. I should add that I haven’t practiced over it for as long as I wished. Even if the author explains that the book is the result of his own studies over many years,he himself admits he hasn’t practiced all those patterns in all possible keys,and in fact I doubt that many sax players in the world can ever play Giant Steps in any key. At any rate,if you want to be among that small elite,than this book surely gives you years of studying.
The unusual A-B structure of the book is intriguing,even though in some cases I found myself wishing I had all possible transpositions of a given pattern in one page,something that may make sense if you want to play “outside”or want to superimpose the Giant Steps sequence over a modal tune or a tune with a different harmonic progression.
The pages devoted to the augmented scale are welcome,for me at least,because I never practiced this scale as intensely as I wished. To be true,I would have liked to see more rhythmic variety,as most patterns just straight 8th notes,but tweaking a pattern to make it look like an original musical idea is part of every musician’s bag of expertise and it isn’t the goal of this book.
The author recommends to practice these patterns along with an Aebersold,however it is very impractical to do so,because the A-B structure of the book means that you can’t practice a pattern over an entire chorus. Instead,you should use a Band-in-a-Box file,which allows you to repeat portions of the songs. (Of course,this latter piece of advice assumes that you own BIAB.)
As a saxopedia reader,you have a third,better choice. To practice on Giant Steps I created a chord sequence with ChordPulse,and you don’t need to buy anything because you can download the free ChordPulse Player. You can now practice any portion of Giant Steps,in any key and at any tempo,without spending a dime,by just download this ZIP file. (I have described ChordPulse in this post and also prepared some common chord sequences,which you can download from here.)
You can order The Giant Steps Scratch Pad Complete e-book from Robert Hartig’s Stormhorn web site,where you can also find many other interesting articles related to sax playing and specifically on Giant Steps,such as this one.
Happy reading and happy practicing!
I wish to thank Sandro Fontoni for sending in five solo transcriptions that haven’t been published elsewhere,two for saxophone:
Larry Schneider’s solo on Bill’s Hit Tune (soprano)
Larry Schneider’s solo on Comrade Conrad (tenor)
and three for double bass:
Dave Holland’s solo on Spot that Man (Night Town,1992 –Don Grolnick)
Dave Holland’s solo on Blues for Pop (Night Town,1992 –Don Grolnick)
Anders Jormin –Sommarnatt (Alone,1991)
I’ve also updated the sax trascriptions page with additional transcriptions found on the ‘Net,for 1399 transcriptions in total.
If you think of it,sax players (and any other musicians,for that matter) need a lot of accessories when practicing. You need your horn,of course,but you also need a metronome,a tuner,a robust music stand,one or more exercises books,the RealBook or other music scores. To practice improvisation you also need a CD or MP3 player with some Aebersold play-along records. If you study harmony you surely need a piano or at least a keyword where you can play chords.
It’s a lot of stuff to carry around,uh?
The good news is that today all you need is an iPhone or an iPod Touch,or an iPad if you like larger and more screens. Well,you still need your saxophone,but nothing other than that!
If you search for “metronome”in the App Store you get about 350 matches,so it’s easy to pick up that one that fits your needs. Some of these matches are programs that do a lot more than just keeping the time,but even not counting them you still have a couple hundred apps to choose from. All those that I have tried out are accurate enough for training purposes.
If you just need a “plain”metronome there is no point in spending your money,because most free metronome apps are enough accurate and complete. I especially like the Steinway Metronome,because of its nice “wooden”interface. It supports most common time signatures and has a handy visual indicator that doesn’t force you to connect your iPhone to a loudspeaker to make its click audible when playing your horn.
There are many other apps that offer fancy variations on the basic metronome job,for example progressive changes towards faster or slower tempo. I am not interested in these variations,because they defy the main goal of a metronome. However,they are in the store,if you need this and other additional features. For example,you might invest 0.99$ for the Ultimate Metronome,which additionally supports weird time signatures,different sounds for each click,custom/compound time signatures inside a single song,and more.
Another interesting metronome app (also at 0.99$) is PolyRhythm,which helps you work with compound polyrythms,such as 7-over-2 or 11-over-3. This is more geared towards drummers,but mastering this sort of complex rythms can be useful to any musicians. Its author Wolfram Winkel has also created a reduced version of this software that runs inside any browser,so you can have an idea of how the apps works before purchasing it. (The main difference between the iPhone app and the browser-based app is that the latter doesn’t let you specify the exact BPM value.
As for most music apps,remember to disable auto-lock when working with metronomes,else you’ll spend most of your time unlocking the screen.
The category of tuners is nearly as crowded as the category of metronome apps and,like for metronomes,you can find a tuner inside many popular apps,especially apps for guitarists such as AmpliTube,AmpKit,and iShred Live. As for metronomes,you can save your money and get a free tuner.
For my setup I chose n-Track Tuner. There isn’t much to say about it,except that it works well and that only a few years ago I spent about 30$ only to get a “real”chromatic tuner that does the same thing and that I never carried around because I had no room in my sax case.
There are many iOS apps that can help you develop the ability to recognize individual notes or even chords. Several free apps cover the basics (e.g. simple intervals),but you might need to spend a few bucks for a complete ear training course. It’s a good way to spend your money,though. The good news is that all commercial apps also offer a free version that lets you try before you purchase.
The three apps that you should try are Karajan at $14.99 (or its free version Karajan Beginner),Ear Training at $14.99 (or the free Ear Training Lite),and Ear Trainer at $5.99 (or Ear Trainer Lite for free).
Play By Ear offers a different and interesting approach to ear training. In this case,instead of touching the screen to indicate your guess,you just play the note on your instrument. Last but not the least,it is absolutely free!
If you are transcribing,studying,or practicing a solo you badly need a player that can slow down a song without changing its pitch,or maybe by changing the pitch so that all notes are in a more comfortable key. In the good old days,when records were made of vinyl,it was possible to play a song at half velocity (and lower the pitch by an octave,more or less),by playing the LP at 16 r.p.m. This is how I learned by first solos by Bird or Coltrane,but luckly there are better means today.
In my opinion,the most versatile app in this are is Slow Down Music Player,that supports importing from the iPod library,the ability to bookmark a point and to loop over a section of a song,and to share individual phrases via email. Best of all,its absolutely free! It’s only limitation is that it doesn’t work with DRM-protected songs,becase they can’t be imported from the iPod library (a limitation that is common to all apps of this type,though).
In the App Store you can find other programs with similar features,though. For example,you may want to try Slow Notes Music Player,which has a better user interface and is free as well.
If you own an iPad you can finally leave all your Real Books at home! In fact,there are several great apps that allow you to browse music scores in PDF format.
For starters,any PDF reader can work as a music score browser,for example the great GoodReader,which also supports annotations and the ability to display two pages in landscape mode. For example,I use GoodReader to store the PDF version of my exercise books. However,there are a few apps that fit the specific needs of musicians much better than generic PDF readers.
The two apps that I regularly use are forScore and forScore Both are available on the iPad only,because it would make little sense to view a score on the iPhone’s tiny screen.
At $4.99 forScore is the less expensive of the two,and includes virtually any feature you may desire,including importing from iTunes or Dropbox,bookmarks,the ability to search for title,genre,composers,etc.,annotations,zoom,landscape support,and page cropping (so that you can discard large margins and make better use of iPad screen estate). It comes with an integrated metronome,a tuner,the ability to automatically turn pages (even half pages) or link two portions of a score (great for repetitions,codas,etc.),score sharing via Bluetooth,a piano keyword,output to an external monitor,support for AirTurn pedal (for hands-free operations),and more.
iGigBook costs three times more ($14.99) than forScore,however if you are a jazz musician the extra money might be well spent. The main iGigBook feature,in fact,is the index of about 60 fake books,including all the most popular ones (e.g. all Real Books editions,including their Bb end Eb variants). This means that –if you have the PDF version of one or more such books –you can find all the versions of a given song in a few seconds.
iGigBook includes many other interesting features,such as chord changes (no themes) for 1200+ popular jazz standards,that can be transposed to any key,and the ability to build a PDF book of selected stored (quite useful to hand out printouts to your fellow musicians before a rehersal). As for forScore,you can point at repeats,D.S.,D.C. so that iGigBook can turn pages for you,and in my opinion iGigBook is slightly better in how you can organize your score lists. The authors also offer a separate iPhone app,named iGigBook Pager,which allows you to wirelessly turn pages on the iPad,a great feature if you are display the score on an external monitor. On the other hand,iGigBook doesn’t support half-page turns,doesn’t include a tuner,doesn’t support sharing via Bluetooth or DropBox,just to name a few of its current limitations.
To recap,as of this writing forScore and iGigBook apps aren’t perfectly equivalent. For this reason,you should carefully compare their features before you pick your choice. Or maybe buy both of them and use one or the other depending on the circumstances,as I did.
In this area there is only one app that you should absolutely have:iReal b. This app has been in the store for at least a couple years and it’s updated and extended on a regular basis. When it started it just offered a “chord-only”version of the Real Book (the melodies could not be included for copyright restrictions),with the added ability to transpose it automatically to any key and to account for Eb,Bb,F,and G transposing instruments. Great for all wind instruments.
Some time later the author added a few in-app purchases (for jazz,pop,and latin styles) that allow you instantly generate the accompaniment for any song in the archive,using the style and the tempo you like most (see left image below). Thanks to this great feature not only can you practice on Giant Steps at a slowed down tempo,you can even try changing the style,and maybe play Donna Lee with rock or latin flavor.
The newest releases of iReal b come with no songs,but you can easily download 1300+ chord changes or enter your own (see right image below). On the authors website you can find several tutorial videos that teach you how to leverage the many features of this great software.
iReal is priced at $7.99,and the jazz,pop,and latin style packs cost $5.99,$4.99,and $3.99 respectively,so be prepared to spend about $23 for the entire suite. It’s much more than the typical iOS app,but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s like owning the entire Aebersold series in your pocket:the computer-generated accompaniment can’t compete with the great musicians that play on Aebersold records,but the result is absolutely first class and can keep you busy for years and years of practicing.
Even if you aren’t interested in the play-along feature,iReal b is still a must-have even just for its repository of chord changes. I never go to a jam sesssion without my iPhone now.