As 2010 has come to a close, we've seen plenty of changes on the music landscape, but nothing has been as strange and welcome as the increasingly awesome ability to create fully fleshed-out albums on your phone. This all came to a head when Gorillaz decided to release The Fall, an album recorded entirely on an iPad, on Christmas day. While a few of these apps are proprietary to the iPad (and some were used by Gorillaz), some work on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. Click through for a rundown of some of our favorites.
5. Funkbox Drum Machine (iPhone, iPad, $2.99) Sometimes all you really want is a straightforward beat without a lot of fancy manipulation options. That's where Funkbox, ahem, beats everyone else by a wide margin. It's chock-full of simple beats, with drum sample sources ranging from an MRK-2 to the TR-808. The bonus comes from the fact that's it's perfectly capable of kicking great beats straight out of the box. But for those who want to dig in, a fully functional editor is there, as well. Plus it kind of looks like those weird old drum machines that used to come built into electric organs.
4. Soundcloud (iPhone, Android, free) Sure, the main purpose of Soundcloud on the iPhone is browsing, uploading and checking out new music. But it also has a record function for unbelievably easy file sharing that completely and totally blows everyone else out of the water. It seems utterly simple, but it's a great repository for people who have a lyric, a tune or a beat stuck in their head but don't have time to sit down and actually write the song. You can make a quick recording and check it out on your computer later.
3. iMS-20 (iPad, $15.99) Just because you can't afford a real MS-20 doesn't mean you can't get the digital experience. Included in the app is an analog synthesizer, a drum machine, a mixer and a pared-down version of a Kaoss Pad. It's the closest thing you'll come to a full-blown music-creation station on the iPad. You get full Soundcloud integration to export tracks and MIDI functionality with the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. It's ridiculously complicated and takes hours to truly understand, but if you'd like to make some old-school sounds, this is the best avenue you'll get.
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2. StudioMini XL (iPad, $5.99) Like the iMS-20, StudioMini XL takes advantage of the Camera Connection Kit and USB audio interfaces, but, more important, it's a functional mixer and recording studio. With the proper tools, you'll be able to record a full-blown album with this, which is exactly what Gorillaz did.
1. iElectribe (iPad, $19.99) Simply put, there is no other beat maker or synth that is as easy to use, manipulate and learn as the iElectribe. Toss in the fact that it sounds great no matter what the speaker setup, and this is one of the very few apps that will blow an electronic musician's mind. It sounds just as good as a real Electribe and looks and operates identically. If you own an iPad and want to make music, this is something you have to own.