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Auxy Studio - Music & Beat Maker
Pros: The possibilities feel endless. It’s incredibly cool to create your own loops and songs from scratch.
Cons: With tons of features to choose from and limited direction, some students may burn out quick.
Bottom Line: A stellar, approachable tool for constructing your very own digital beats and tracks.
This is a super-easy tool to help students create whole songs or to loop backing tracks for them to sing or rap over. Students in a media-making after-school program could use Auxy to create their own loops and tracks as they learn basic skills and build up to working with pro-level equipment. You might also introduce Auxy to students in a class where they'll be creating songs or jingles to go with presentations or video projects. It's a powerful way to make lots of instrument sounds without access to the real deal. Auxy could also be a great fit for a music theory class where students want to experiment with notation and play with rhythm and timbre.
Auxy is a digital-music-creation app for iOS that focuses on beats and electronic music. It's gorgeously designed, offering a simple-to-hop-into experience that has tons of depth. To start creating your track, add a melodic instrument or drum sound from the app's built-in sound pack. Then, press and hold to edit your loop, duplicate it, or toggle a 12-tone chromatic scale or an 8-tone major, minor, or harmonic minor scale. The next screen shows a grid. Each column represents a note of the scale, and each row is a single beat. Tap the boxes in each row to indicate which notes you want to play on each beat. You can add as many instruments as you like to your one-, two-, or four-bar loop. Then, swipe to the right on-screen to create the next loop in your song with the same instruments. Tap the gear at the top of the screen to alter settings for your project (such as tempo and key).
From the menu at right, you can render your project and then export it directly to SoundCloud or save it as a video, audio, or uncompressed WAV file to your device. You can also export your project as a MIDI file or export the individual instruments. The top-left menu lets you browse built-in projects and your own creations, and you can also browse and download additional sound packs. You can also browse other users' creations on SoundCloud or view the Auxy Instagram feed. You can purchase sound packs, some of which are inspired by artists, usually for $4.99 each.
Auxy is awesome, and students will appreciate making music that feels current with chart-topping songs. It's particularly exciting to find a digital drum-pad app that's user-friendly enough for beginners and also flexible enough for serious musicians. The possibilities feel limitless, but you always feel organized. You can easily keep track of which instruments you're using and how your loops will play back. It's especially rewarding to discover that a long press on a feature reveals even more ways to customize and edit your work.
Judging Auxy on its own merits (and not as a tool designed for music education), there's really not much missing here. It would be even better if you could import loops from other apps or formats; it's fun to input notes by hand on the grid, but it would be even better if there were more features for importing and riffing on existing projects. Also, while the whimsical instrument names are fun (for example, "Dribble"), it's not always clear what you're going to get beyond "lead" or "bass" sounds. Some more options for being a bit more purposeful with instrument choices would be great. Those minor quibbles aside, this is a stellar tool for digital music-making; the biggest challenge may be tearing yourself away from the app to let your students in on the fun.