MusiClock by developer perTunes is a nice little improv jamming app that can also be used as a scale trainer. As a musician with less than impressive music theory training, and with a five year-old drummer and seven year-old pianist for accompaniment, this app helps me in both categories. Check out the quick developer demo below for an introduction to MusiClock.
As you can see from that video, the interface is simple. Dominating the main screen is the wheel to select the key for the song. One note here: In the settings you can change to note selection to show either a "B" or an "H", which apparently is used for German music. You'll see the notes on the ledger lines above, based on the scale you've chosen (I'll get to that in a minute). You'll also see the note names in the circle. Below, you'll see either the notes on the keys, or on a guitar fretboard, based on what you've selected in he Settings screen. Helpful tip: In guitar mode, you can tap in the fretboard to make it bigger, for easier viewing.
As I mentioned before, you'll have the option to choose which scales to use. There are 8 options so far, containing typical major and minor, but also some pentatonics, blues, and even a dominant bebop. Now, here's the other great feature of MusiClock - the backing jam tracks. Based on what scale you've chosen, you'll have a selection of great backing tracks to jam along to. There is a big range of styles here, from pop to metal, jazz to blues.
I found these backing tracks to be really good. They've each got a set BPM, which can't be adjusted, but they sound great, and the variety really helps get you into new styles, if you're feeling adventurous. I'm not much into jazz or pop, but I was quickly trying to fake it, and found myself adjusting mystyle of playing.
As a guitarist and a hack pianist, this app is very helpful. Admittedly my knowledge of scales is weak. I can think my way through a major or minor scale, but that's about it. Having this laid out in a such a way here makes it easy for me to not only quickly play these scales, but to also learn them. And as I mentioned before, my "band" is currently my two young daughters, so this gives me some great practice playing as well.
Speaking of my daughters, they jumped into MusiClock instantly, and had no troubles with the interface. As they both take piano lessons, they know their way around the keys (honestly, they are much better than me). They were able to quickly jam along with the backing tracks, and especially had fun trying to play along with the "Helsinki Heavy" metal track. I've just started teaching them guitar, so this app is helpful in teaching them the scales on the fretboard as well.
As you can see, this is an app for all ages, and all talent levels. It's a universal app, which I like. Using it on the iPad makes it easier for my old eyes to see, and having it on my phone means I'll always be able to find whatever scale I might need on the go. Considering all of the backing tracks, it's still a relatively small app, at just around 97mb. It's real affordable as well. Utility apps such as this might not be as sexy as a new synth app, but MusiClock is a great app for learning scales and keeping your jamming chops fresh.
If you're thinking about buying MusiClock, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks![app 961947711]