JazzEars app updates

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!

Here’s a video demo of JazzEars:

Scalar relaunches as an ear training app!

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.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to the app on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scale-syllabus/id494295192?mt=8

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.

Here’s a video demo of the app:

Chord Rotator v2!

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. 😉

Listening for Music! And other things

Up until right now, I’ve been rather quiet about all my ventures. I have tended to talk to music people about music, software people about s0ftware but rarely crossed those paths. In my life, those paths converge and diverge on a daily basis. So why not write about it? It could be interesting to those with similar goals or lives. And I can’t really predict what you, dear reader, may want to read about.

So, here it comes…an all-out blog about music and software projects, thoughts on the process and how to live whilst doing all that!

Sharing Parts with Musicians

From my experience, sharing parts (primarily PDFs) with musicians is tedious. Sure, you can simply generate PDFs from your notation software, attach them to an email and move on. Or sync them to Dropbox. Or send them via one of those FTP-like services (perhaps YouSendIt).

The challenge for me has always been how to keep track of all that. Who did I send parts to? Did they get them? What happens when there’s a last-minute sub? And, of course, printing backup copies of everything to take along to the gig (just in case somebody forgot theirs).

And, then, there’s the joy of releasing updates to existing compositions which compounds all those challenges.

That’s why I’m developing copyist.io! The ultimate vision for the product is to provide a widget to automatically upload saved versions of your scores to copyist.io and automatically generate the parts (as necessary). There will also be similar wizardry to let you custom generate the parts and synchronize those.

The idea is to make it all as fluid and automatic as possible!

Then, your performers can simply fire up their Copyist apps (on Android and iOS devices) and be ready for the performance. You’ll be able to attach performance notes to enhance communications.

No more hunting through Inboxes and Outboxes. No more monkeying around with file-sharing services. Just a straight-forward service that knows about musicians’ workflows. Or at least, I hope I do. If your workflow differs, please do let me know. I dream of serving a happy community of musicians!

Backup Basic for Musicians

Ho hum. Backup? What, me worry?

The challenge we all face is that the computer hard drive is the most unreliable piece of hardware there is. Sure, SSDs are about to change that but still there is a gamble with storing your precious music in digital form. Heck, there’s a gamble when storing in any medium: paper, CD, DVD or a hard drive.

The best advice I can offer is to have multiple copies of your scores, parts and audio. Not so many that you can’t find stuff when you need it! But it makes sense to have at least the working copies on your work computer, backed up to an external hard drive and also backed up securely on the Internet.

There are many Internet-based services for managing backups. You could quickly search and find a very long list of services. They all have their features and benefits. I strongly encourage you to use something to backup your work.

The risk of losing everything in the event of some natural disaster or even theft greatly outweighs any perceived risk of storing your work on the Internet. Do your homework and make sure that your backup provider is secure and reliable.

At copyist.io we strongly believe that a sound backup is just the beginning. At this point in time, it’s the bare minimum. That’s why we built a very solid foundation for your files. And then took it to the next level by adding convenience and automation features on top of that. Our basic guiding principle is one of figuring out how we can automate as much of the production process as possible. We try to eliminate redundant effort and minimize extra work.

Copyist.io Overview

Here’s how it all works together

Copyist.io lets composers/musicians store their scores and parts in the “Cloud” (aka a secure web server using state of the art technology) and share them effortlessly with others.

The simplest way to share parts with musicians in your ensembles is via the apps we’ve developed for iOS and Android. Musicians can simply login and access the music you’ve shared with them. You can organize the music in to set lists or projects for concerts or sessions. Or simply share ad hoc parts. Whatever is easiest for you.

Our apps include PDF viewers which are usable on the gig. And we also include integrations with other on-device PDF readers. From within our app, you can easily send the PDF to other PDF readers installed on your device. We want to make it as easy as possible to get ready for the gig.

Musicians can also log on to our web site to view the parts directly on their computers. And of course they can download the parts or even print them out to paper.

Copyist. is launching soon!

This is exciting! Copyist.io is launching soon! Please visit us at https://copyist.io to check out the latest developments!

I started this project because I was frustrated with the existing ways to share music (primarily PDFs) with musicians. Previously, it’s been a chaotic, manual chore to deal with e-mail attachment, Dropbox and FTP-like services.

It was bad enough just dealing with my own music and the revolving cast of musicians for each gig or session. But add to that, the flow of incoming music for the other projects I’m involved in…  Well, it was always a struggle to find, organize and remember to bring music along to gigs.

Why? In this modern day of technology overload, surely there’s a better way. Well…ahem…I think I’ve built it! 🙂

Copyist.io is a secure web site (built with the latest/greatest security tools) where we can save off-site copies of our precious scores, parts and demo audio. 

That by itself is a great thing – a backup service that gives you peace of mind that you’ll always have access to your works. But it also organizes and understands the relationships between scores and parts.

And copyist.io also makes it easy to share music with others. It automates e-mail notifications and provides iOS and Android apps so musicians can simply synchronize their music onto their mobile devices.

That last bit might be worth repeating: musicians can simply use our app (on iPhones, iPads or Android devices) and they’re ready for the gig!

That’s just the beginning. I have many more automation features under active development and we look forward to sharing details about those in the near future!

Great! I look forward to serving you!


Time It Is

We’ve recorded a new CD and are preparing for its release in November, 2014! I’m so proud of this new record. It was an incredible experience to make this music with David Cooper, Tim Whalen, Mark Urness and Ernie Adams. They all played with so much heart and intelligence. I hope you enjoy this music – our message to all of you!

We’re planning a CD Release Party at the Brink Lounge, in Madison, WI on Nov 25th. I hope you can join us!


The Scale Syllabus App ships!

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.