Today’s post has been penned by Sergey Bogdanov, founder and CEO of Songtive. Songtive publishes Piano Companion, an App for those interested in developing their knowledge of theory and chord progressions. It’s free and can be a most helpful addition to a musician’s tool box. In this post, Sergey explains how to use this app and there’s a link to download it, too.
Piano Companion is a composing tool, band and social network, which allows you to experiment with arrangements and chord progressions. It helps you to organize your favourite songs and chord charts, and to share them with your friends.
The app can be downloaded on your computer, tablet, or phone. Upon opening the app, you are greeted with a simple menu that allows for all of the features to be easily utilized. Below is a description of the tabs and their respective features.
At the top left, you will find the Chords Dictionary tab. This allows you to hear and visualize more than 1500 chords and chord progressions, as well as to create custom chords. To start, select a key at the top of the screen. You can then scroll through an interactive table of every chord in that key. Pressing on a tab allows you to hear what it sounds like, and underneath you are shown which piano keys are necessary to replicate that chord.
Another feature is the Scales Dictionary. In this tab, you will find a comprehensive list of the names of the scales. At the top is ‘Acoustic’, and it is listed alphabetically through to ‘Zokuso’. You can also sort by key, meaning you can see what the look like in multiple different formats, such as on a keyboard and on sheet music.
The app also features a Circle of Fifths tab. To make use of this, navigate to a designated area and you will see the name of the chord, how to play it, and what it looks like as sheet music throughout all octaves. You can also listen to what the chord sounds like on a keyboard. The outermost layer of the circle lists major scales; for example, navigating to the outermost ‘F’ will give you information about F Major. The middle circle prompts minor chords. For example, if you navigate to ‘f’, you will find all you need to know about F Natural Minor.
The Piano Companion app would not be complete without its virtual piano feature, simply titled Piano. This essentially works like a MIDI keyboard in that many instruments can be played while never leaving the keyboard format. The default is set to Grand Piano, but other instruments include a guitar, cello, two synths, and a few percussion instruments such as the xylophone. Tap on the keys to hear what they sound like, and there is also a useful feature where you can record what you played. This is a great way to practice playing the chords for yourself, as well as for composing music.
There is also a Quiz feature. If you navigate to it, you will be brought to a page to download an app called Sight Reading Trainer: ChordIQ, where you can test the knowledge you learned on the Piano Companion app while also seeing how you performed compared to others.
The User Library tab is completely customizable to best fit your needs. To start, navigate to the plus arrow and enter a name. You are then asked to choose a root. This tab is best used to keep a convenient list of the chords and scales you find most useful.
Toward the bottom of the app, there is a comprehensive Settings page. At the top, you will find ways to connect to the online forum as well as the Facebook and Twitter pages. You then have a chance to change the language from the default of English and to limit what you see in each tab. For example, if you are overwhelmed by the Scales Dictionary, you can opt to ‘Show only popular scales’. Another useful setting is the ability to change the default instrument from Grand Piano to another option. This way, if you tap on a chord, you may hear it as a guitar or synth instead, for example.
Feel free to download the app, here, and try it for yourself!
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.