Genius (for iPhone and Android) gives you lyrics for any of 1.7 million songs. Besides lyrics, you get annotations and in some cases, can hear the song. We looked up Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” and tapped the line “When Missus Ned McLean (God bless her) can get Reds to ‘yes’ her, then I suppose, anything goes.” Mrs. McLean back then was the wife of the owner of The Washington Post, and had recently embarked on a highly-publicized trip to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, precursor to the USSR. The “Reds” were Communists, of course. We love the song but never understood the Mrs. McLean part.
“Music Tutor Sight Read” is a free app for Android phones and it’s getting Joy playing the piano again. The app offers quizzes so you get better at recognizing notes in sheet music. It helps if you’ve already had some music lessons and need a refresher. “Music Tutor Free” for iPhone/iPad is similar.
“Google Play Music” has free radio stations, and will store any music you upload for playback on any device. They start you out with a free trial subscription for their premium service, but you can continue listening for free if you choose to play music from their free stations. We thought they were excellent.
Spotify online radio now has a Shakespeare channel. You can listen to ninety-eight straight hours of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Of course they will be performed by actors speaking too fast and with forced accents, so you won’t really be able to understand that they’re saying, but that’s the way it is with Shakespeare performances.
We overheard one of the best tech conversations ever from two guys who were cleaning our carpet. They debated the merits of just about every new gadget out there, and then went on to music creation. One of them was an amateur music producer, so we listened carefully when he said he uses “Ableton” music software. We immediately tried the 30-day free trial version from Ableton.com. (We didn’t have to give them our credit card number.)
You can create a musical score made up of the kind of music and sound effects you hear in adventure games and save it to any application you wish, even making weird sounds for your cellphone. This is free for the month of February from Syrinscape.com if you feel like trying out their new beta version (pre-market release) of the Syrinscape Fantasy Player.
Midomi.com listens while you sing or hum a tune and then tells you the name of it. Sometimes. It never did recognize our rendition of La Bamba, but was quick to get the Zulu folk song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” (Bob says the really tough question of the week is … “What was the song on the flip side of that 45-rpm record when it first came out?”)