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HarmonyWiz review – New app from Jordan Rudess

Wizdom Music, the developers behind SampleWiz, SpaceWiz, MorphWiz, and Geo Synthesizer among others, have just released their newest app, HarmonyWiz.

Harmony Wiz is a "harmonic generator", that builds entire multi-part accompaniments by way of several input options. The stated aim of this app is to provide an app that is both "entertaining and fun for all ages, but also a valuable educational tool for music students and can be used for advanced editing by industry professionals". From my time playing with this app, both by myself and with my young kids, I can say that they have hit the mark.

As you are likely aware, Wizdom Music is the app development company led by Jordan Rudess, keyboardist of the band Dream Theater. In the promo video below, Jordan gives a solid overview of the features of HarmonyWiz (and thereby saving me time writing about everything!):

OK, so in case you didn't watch the video, here's a quick rundown of how HarmonyWiz works. The melody of your song can be created by either "painting" a line that represents the overall flow of the notes, or you can use the keyboard. Part of the dazzle of HarmonyWiz is the "magic brush" method. By simply dragging your finger from left to right, you can create the melody of your song. By controlling the speed in which you drag across, and the Y-axis peaks and valleys, HarmonyWiz will select the notes based on the scale you've chosen (in the Settings option). It's all very intuitive, and admittedly very fun.

If you prefer a more traditional route, there are several keyboard-based options. You can either play notes on the virtual keyboard (available in either chromatic and scale keyboards), or plug in an external MIDI keyboard. By using this manual approach, you can record your playing live into the staff, or you can choose each note and length, and add them individually.

There are two modes to HarmonyWiz as well, which allow for both casual and advanced use of the app. In the 'Standard' mode, you are only able to edit the melody part. Switching to 'Expert' mode opens up the entire arrangement to editing. Here you can edit chord types (suspensions, inversions, etc.), note types, and many other "advanced" features. This app can be much deeper than simply dragging a finger across the screen, if you so desire.

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There are five styles of composition that HarmonyWiz can use to create your song - baroque, contemporary, smooth, free, and open. The baroque style was my favorite, and I found myself using that one almost exclusively.

HarmonyWiz comes with 10 virtual instruments to choose from, which lean heavily towards symphonic instruments (violin, cello, flute, etc.). There are five additional IAP soundpacks, ranging from guitar to synth to additional acoustic instruments (provided by the makers of Thumbjam, so you know these are quality). All of the included sounds really do sound great

HarmonyWiz has launched with Audiobus support, which worked flawlessly for me. I recorded a quick demo, which can be found below. For this demo, I used the "magic brush", and made no alterations to the notes.

This demo used the Baroque style with the Strings instrumentation preset.

Like his other apps, HarmonyWiz manages to find a nice balance between simple and deep. If you choose to only use the brush method, you will find that HarmonyWiz manages to create some very nice melodies right out of the box. By choosing the Expert mode, you have total control of the notes, and can edit your song to perfection. Of course, you don't have to choose one or the other. You can begin your song by painting in the melody, and then adjusting notes, rests, and chords to your liking. I found that using the brush to start a song was a great boost to creativity, pushing me along a path that I could lightly steer to meet my needs.

Some musicians do bristle at the notion of these types of apps, and I can understand that. But HarmonyWiz does a great job of bridging the gap between novice and advanced user. I think both camps can get a lot from this app, and the joy that my daughters found in playing with HarmonyWiz speaks to the power of creating music. Sitting down for an evening of making music with them was a treat, and I know they will be asking to play HarmonyWiz with them again in the future. I will most gladly oblige.

HarmonyWiz (AppStore Link) HarmonyWiz
Developer: Wizdom Music LLC
Rated: 4+5
Price: $13.99 Download

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