Write down musical ideas as quickly as they come to mind! Scroll, draw, play, and repeat. This is what sheet music has always wanted to be.
Winner of the Children's Tech Review Editor's Choice Award! This award is given to "'no fail' products, worthy of their cost, and able to keep children engaged for days at a time."
A Huge, Fluid Canvas
The sequencers in most audio apps feel like they're stuck in mud. With this one, there's no friction. Scroll, pan, and zoom around as easily as in your favorite mapping app. Time is along the horizontal axis and pitch along the vertical. Draw your music at any spot!
Don't feel constrained by antiquated notions of time and pitch: start your notes at any point and bend them to any pitch! Notate guitar solos and complex polyrhythms as easily as any choral. (Or snap to the grid if you wish.)
Making music with Composer's Sketchpad is incredibly easy. Scroll around with your finger. Draw by using a second finger. Play back your music immediately. Snap to the time and pitch gridlines with simple toggle buttons. Rewind, erase, undo, redo, and record — all right there for your immediate gratification.
Over 100 Instruments
Choose from a variety of instruments across many different genres, including keyboards, guitars, orchestral instruments, and many more. You can also use more than 50 different percussion instruments.
Any Number of Pieces
Save your pieces for later playback! There's no limit to the number of pieces you can save. Your music saves automatically as you work.
Export to Multiple Formats
Export your compositions to MIDI or JSON for easy editing and sharing.
If you're a lucky owner of an iPad Pro, the Pencil is fully supported! Draw smooth, luxurious notes with a simple swipe of your stylus.
What's with the slightly weird interface?
Most drawing apps let you draw with one finger and pan around with two. Personally, I've never found this to work well: you often have to try multiple times just to trigger it, to say nothing of momentum scrolling and the like. For this app, I wanted scrolling to be seamless without compromising on drawing. The mental model is actually quite simple: your "piece of paper" is very slippery, so you have to hold it down with one finger before you can start putting down notes. It quickly becomes second nature!
Why no MIDI in/out support?
One of the starring features of Composer's Sketchpad is the ability for any note to start at, and bend to, any pitch. Unfortunately, MIDI pitch bends are done per-channel, which means that the MIDI output for this app will be very complicated and ill-suited to most apps. If you know of a standard way to pitch-bend individual MIDI notes, I'd love to hear about it! (I'm aware of polyphonic aftertouch, but my understanding is that you have to set the mapping to pitch per-sequencer, making MIDI-out too much of a hassle for most use cases.)
This doesn't have my favorite DAW features!
I largely wrote this app because I found DAWs to be a poor model for how I create music. There was too much UI getting in the way of the actual compositional process, and too many features targeting audio production tweaks over the structure of the music itself. I wanted an interface that made it as easy and frictionless as possible to put down notes, edit them, and play them back — that's it. As a result, my app is limited in features, but powerful in usability. With that said, Composer's Sketchpad is a long-term project that is going to grow with me and adapt to my needs over the years, and I fully intend to add more advanced features over time. The question is whether they can be added without complicating the interface. If you have ideas for power features that would work well for Composer's Sketchpad, by all means, please send me an e-mail!
What features are next in the pipeline?
In terms of major features, iPhone support is the highest priority. I'll also be looking into Audiobus, virtual instruments, MIDI file import, and MP3 export. Of course, there are tons of smaller and more esoteric features that I'll be adding, too! (But I don't want to spill all the beans quite yet.)