10 Free Web Based Tools for Music Production: Patatap, Tap Tempo, Bfxr, Chordify, Circle of Fifths +

In this music tools roundup, Dubspot’s Dan Salvaggio aka Curl Up shares 10 free web based music production tools for getting it done in the studio or on the road!

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10 Free Web Tools for Music Production

Opening up your web browser in the studio doesn’t have to mean surrendering to distractions! The internet provides a wealth of musical inspiration and assistance, be it information, tech help, or even just a stress reliever to take your mind off that mixdown that just isn’t coming together right. In this article, we’ll explore a mixed bag of 10 browser-based music tools that are fun and/or helpful, all of which I’ve found myself coming back to often. Let’s fire up Netscape and make some music!

1. Patatap

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This fun, sleekly designed app turns your qwerty keyboard into a fully loaded sample player, filled to the brim with well-made kits. The sounds are bright and colorful; akin to what you’d hear in a Porter Robinson or Giraffage song. You can record and share your creations as well here

2. Tap Tempo 

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While there may be millions of them out there, this browser-based tap tempo was the first one I’d found many years ago and immediately made it to my browser’s hot bar. For me, simplicity is key, and this one nails it. Whether I’m considering tunes to play out or to remix, being able to quickly figure out a song’s tempo in a new tab is extremely helpful.

3. Chordify

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Another tool that’s handy in the studio is Chordify. This app enables you to upload songs or link them from Soundcloud and Youtube, and allows you to output chord data very quickly. You can play back the song, and the music data will scroll along in a simple, easy to read grid. Beyond that, you can export MIDI data as well as sheet music and chord diagrams. This feature is especially helpful for remixing and/or learning to play songs on piano and guitar. I’ve had varying degrees of success with regards to Chordify being able to transpose entire songs, but it’s often very close.

4. Bfxr 

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A web-based elaboration on the free standalone app Sfxr, Bfxr is a secret weapon amongst producers of both music and video games. Sfxr was created as a free, simple means for designers to generate sounds for computer games. Bxfr takes the open source app and runs with it, adding additional waveforms, filters, effects, and more, all in your browser. The sounds are impressive and arguably very close to those of the actual chips they emulate. You can also export anything you make in .wav format, and the samples are free to use, be it commercially or not. Can’t be mad at that!

5. Seaquence

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Seaquence is a uniquely fun amalgamation of ideas, fusing what appears to be some kind of alien marine life game with what could be considered a DAW. In this app, you create sea creatures, each of which represents a track in your overall song and each being its own synthesizer & sequencer. There are five different editable base sounds to use, and you can have way more tracks than necessary. You can share your creations and check out ones made by others under the ‘recent’ tab. Some users make some incredibly beautiful pieces that are as fun to watch as they are to listen too.

6. Circle of Fifths

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The circle of fifths is a visual representation of the relationship between the 12 notes on the chromatic scale. Having a simple guide like this is handy and goes a long way when composing songs, writing chords, and expanding on riffs. I like using this one because it offers a vast array of tonics and modes. I also find this helpful when I have no melodic ideas whatsoever. I’ll pick a tonic and mode, jam out some corresponding chords, and see if anything sticks.

7. HTML5DrumMachine

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You guessed it, a browser-based drum machine. Esthetically similar to the almighty TR-808, this is a much more simplified version that sounds great and is a blast to mess around with. You can select from two patterns and five kits, each with thirteen sounds. Additionally, you can bounce .wav files of your loops in seconds. This thing has been the backbeat to many office freestyle battles.

8. Websynths

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Websynths is a fantastic sounding microtonal synth for your browser. It boasts two oscillators, filters, effects, and just about everything else you’d expect from a fully functional synth plug-in. While it seems to be designed primarily with touch devices in mind, the qwerty keyboard is sufficient for creating sounds. Websynths is a work in progress, and the developer is frequently releasing updates via their Facebook page here.

9. Guitarist’s Reference

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With guitar being a huge part of my compositions, this resource has proven invaluable. The device is a very simple means of quickly displaying extensive information about what it is you’re playing. When writing a song I’ll often create a series of synth loops in my DAW and jam over it with guitar, using this (or the iPhone app, which is also nice) as reference. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out interesting chords when expanding upon riffs, which is the main draw for me. It’s also laid out in easy to read tablature, strewn over a top down view of a fretboard.

10. WebSID

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I discovered WebSID on createdigitalmusic a while back and have often come back to it regularly. It emulates the SID chip found in the old Commodore 64 computers from the early 1980’s. These sounds are a throw back to the early days of video games and computing. Countless artists from Trent Reznor to Daft Punk to Timbaland have all harnessed the power of the SID chip via Elektron’s SidStation hardware synth created in the late 1990’s. WebSID is as simple to use as can be and features recording, saving, and sharing features. This thing is a nostalgia machine.

- Dan Salvaggio aka Curl Up


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