The initial versions of Scalar were clearly designed for advanced students and professionals. With the latest update, we added basic triads. Ok, we probably should have started with these but…well…sometimes you just excited a write the advanced features first. It’s more fun!
Anyway, to work with just triads press on Ear Training or Practice buttons. While there, press the Settings icon in the upper-right corner. Scroll down a bit and select the triads you want and deselect the other chords.
Now your exercises will be using triads. It’s fun to add more advanced chords to the mix later on and incrementally improve your ear training skills.
Jazz Ears is designed to assist with ear training for improvising musicians. This app lets you interact with chords and scales in unique ways.
Dual Chord Mode places two chords next to one another. This approach can be very helpful in navigating between chords. In some cases you might focus on the common tones between the two chords/scales. This is useful for building fundamental skills and improving your ability to improvise over a chord for extended periods of time. The goal, for many, is to be able to improvise freely within the chord sounds. Of course, more advanced players will enjoy playing outside the chord sounds and exploring the tension that produces.
Clusters is a great way to exercise your ability to improvise over unexpected sounds. Here, the app will challenge you with randomly generated clusters (2-note, 3-note or 4-note) and morph them through the selected root movement. This is a great way to improve your hearing and response time to surprising chordal sounds.
JazzEars provides a complete, interactive play along environment which makes practicing fun!
A few years ago I released Scale Syllabus, an app for browsing scales. It was one of the first apps I ever wrote. Pat Harbison, professor at Indiana University and long-time friend, suggested I release an app using David Baker’s famous ear training exercises. Excellent idea! And an excellent reason to bring Scale Syllabus into something more useful.
I reimplemented the app using Swift 3 and AudioKit. This is a really nice and enjoyable language/toolkit to work with. It was great fun to revisit David’s ear training book, write algorithms to generate the exercises and have some fun dynamically generating MIDI sequences.
I’ve been upgrading the audio engine under the Chord Rotator app. I think this version is a lot better (far less latency!) and cleaner (dig the new UI!).
This version dropped the “follow” pitch shifter in favor of three “real” rotators. The un-effected signal can be mixed via the Mix Balance knob.
The three rotators rotate sequentially through the five columns. The blue dot indicates which step is currently playing. That’s useful when debugging or practicing with your settings.
Speaking of settings, press and hold the preset at the bottom of the screen to save. You’ll get a bit haptic feedback (just a little vibration) when it saves. I think it’s a reasonable feedback mechanism. Certainly doesn’t get in the way of anything.
So, v2 is a major upgrade in terms of audio quality, stability and usability. I’ve been practicing with it and having a blast. Literally. 😉
I’ve been quite busy of late. One of the things I’ve been working on are several more apps for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.
The Scale Syllabus app is designed to assist improvising musicians learn their scales and work on applying them over chords. It is a complete study assistant where you can see, hear and play along with all the jazz chords and scales. This app lets you interact with chords and scales in unique ways.
This app transposes for all instruments and includes a play along mode where you can make music over the chord and a metronome.
It is a complete environment for learning jazz scales and chords.
I’m very happy to announce the release of DronePlayer for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch!
DronePlayer is a fun, interactive practice assistant for improvising musicians. Playing over extended tonalities is a great way to develop your ears as well as your musical ideas.
Long, sustained tones are generally known as drones. Drones have proven themselves quite useful for practicing. Many people use them to assist with intonation. Some enjoy playing scales over them. I personally have found them useful for practicing improvisation and improving my ears.
Muting one of the drone voices is a great way to play with just a fundamental pitch. You can then improvise over this and focus on hearing how what you are playing relates. Adding a second drone voice just adds to the fun.
Rotating DronePlayer to landscape orientation invokes a Drone Sequence mode where you can play evolving tonalities. These are excellent for challenging your improvising skills and having fun while doing so!