PanStage Music is a fun free app to let you create music with friends and strangers from around the world. The basic idea is that someone, perhaps you, records a single audio track, perhaps a cappella vocals, or guitar or flute. Then that track is released into the wilds and someone else, perhaps you, adds your own track to it. For example, one person can play "The Parting Glass" on the piano and then up to seven others can add their own parts to the song. Maybe four people add Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass parts, and another person adds some violin and so forth. The end result is an interesting collaboration between complete strangers.
When you first run PanStage Music, you need to create an account. You can do so using your email address or by connecting to Facebook. Once created, you can listen to existing compositions, start your own or add to an existing one.
Recording a track is as simple as tapping the record button and creating some music. The makers of PanStage Music encourage you to use the built-in Mic on your iPhone as they cannot guarantee the quality of (and probably do not want to get into the business of supporting) external mics connected to your phone. And, to be fair, the built-in mic of recent iPhone models are surprisingly good, even for this kind of thing. When you are adding to an existing composition, you need to use headphones so you can hear what has already been recorded while you add your own. Here they suggest you use regular headphones and not ones with an included microphone as the quality of these is often not as good nor can you easily guarantee you keep the mic at a fixed distance to maintain the same recording level.
When you are done with your recording you can review it, toss it away or commit it to the cloud. When you do that, it is uploaded as part of the original composition and others can add their own parts if they like.
Finding compositions to listen to or add to is done by choosing how you sort the list of everything that is already out there. You can sort by the user name of the creator, by the newest compositions, or by the ones most heard. I imagine that if this gets truly popular, finding specific compositions will get very difficult and the ability to search or filter will be necessary. For example, if I want to sing, I'd like to find any tracks that do not already have a vocal track attached to them.
Another feature I would really like to see is the ability to restrict sharing to specific people. I have a number of friends who are musicians and I would love to use this with them to try some things out, especially since we can't always get together to play around musically. Right now, it appears that the only option is to share things with the entire world.
PanStage Music is a free iPhone app optimized for iPhone 5 and up. It requires iOS 6 and up and the use of headphones is required for recording additions to existing compositions.