Five FREE tools for Musicians (and music lovers)


If you listen to music and  find yourself thinking about the different individual tracks, or wondering how the song will sound if it was transposed a few tones or if it was in a different key, or if you just like to experiment with music, then you will probably like these 5 free tools.

Sonic Visualizer’ is a music visualization app, SlowMP3 can slow and transpose MP3s and help identify chords in a song, BPMinus will let you change pitch and tempo and perform BPM analysis, ‘GBK Music’ can help find chords and scales for guitar, bass and keyboards, and finally ‘Pitch Ear Trainer‘ can help you train your ear for perfect pitch recognition.

Five Tools for musicians illustration2

1. Sonic Visualizer: a powerful audio visualization tool

Sonic Visualizer Screenshot

The screenshot for this program fails to do it justice, because though it looks like an average sound wave, in fact this program can produce a wide range of different visualizations and display them in separate panes or layered on top of each other.

Sonic Visualizer can also be extended via downloadable effects plugins that add to its functionality (Vamp, LADSPA, and DSSI effects plugins). VST plugins are not directly supported but Windows users can get limited support via the Audacity VST Enabler.

Sonic Visualizer is multiplatform (Windows, Linux, Mac).

2. SlowMP3: slow down or transpose music tracks

SlowMP3 Screenshot

SlowMP3 will let you change the speed of an MP3, transpose it upwards or downwards, and transcribe it on a keyboard for chord detection. Its small and simple, and requires Java to run.

3. BPMinus: slow, loop, and change the pitch of audio tracks

BPMinus Screenshot

Another audio file manipulation software similar to SlowMP3 (above). BPMinus is designed for BMP analysis and will let you loop segments of audio files, change pitch as well as speed (temp), and a number of other interventions.

4. GBK Music: find chords and scales easily

GBK Music Screenshot

A small yet useful tool designed to help find scales and chords for Guitar, Base, and keyboards. Displays chords for right and left handed players.

5. Pitch Ear Trainer: perfect-pitch ear training

Pitch Ear Training Screenshot

Do you think you have a good musical ear? Prepare to be humbled by this small program, which will play notes based on certain user-defined parameters and ask you to identify them. All you need to do is set the number of guesses and the pause between them, but you might need to limit the tones to a subset of the normal keyboard, to make things easier.

That’s it. Your comments are appreciated as always, as are apps that you like that are not in this article.

  • Toni

    Thanks Samer! I didn’t know any of these programs. Since I don’t have a very good musical ear but still like to make some music I should train my ears with Pitch Ear Trainer.
    SlowMP3 (for finding chords of musical pieces I want to cover) and GBK Music also look like they will be very useful in this amateur musicians toolset!

  • Samer Kurdi

    @ Toni, I am glad you find some of these interesting. This is the kind of article which usually gets delayed and put off because I am not sure that there would be much interest in the topic out there.

  • Toni

    Yes I can see why you think that, but how many of your readers do also play an instrument, or at least think about learnig to play one? I guess a lot. Music is so universal.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get GBK Music to work on Windows 7 64 bit, it gave me an error right at ht beginning.
    Pitch ear trainer gives you a choice for either english or german language, but for me it worked only in german. Lucky for me I can read german.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Toni, try running GBK Music as admin. It worked for me on Win 7 64 bit. I was also able to run Pitch Ear Trainer in English – I do not speak German 😉

      • Toni

        Thanks, running GBK Music as an admin did the trick!

  • Nowadays the App store has a plenty of music apps library for our iPhone to listen and share to our friends. I love music and I tried these music apps to double my entertainment. It was really amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing this post on five free tools for musicians.

  • I basically spent a lot of time using my mobile app. I would say mobile apps are reaching out people with faster approach. And of course it doesnt left entertainment also. The apps mentioned in these post are really interesting.