A shout out to my student Ashley (!) and TMEA for getting word out about
TONAL ENERGY - which is probably the best $3.99 a musician can invest if an iOS user. For all you iFans out there, this is definitely a great thing to check out if you have not done so yet!
A terrific user's guide is located online . Although billed as a tuner, this powerful app is a chromatic tuner, metronome, and recording device all rolled into one convenient package. When using the tuner option, you can use your iDevice as a tuner or select the tone generator instrument (and temperament) to sustain a reference tone (or multiple tones). It's also possible to select these options while using the metronome, which also offers great options.
The analysis option allows you to see feedback for each option - tuner and metronome. While selecting the tuner or tone generator option, the sound you create (input) registers on a graph indicating your tuning (cents sharp, flat, or in tune). The metronome clicks are also visible, so you can check the precision of your attacks or note shifts. Even better is the ability to record the track, which provides a recording of not only the audio but also the visual graph track! You can then save the file on your iDevice or even email it or upload it. [Keep in mind that in order to be correctly in tune you'll want to make sure you take into the account the tendency of that note. For example, if you're playing the third of major chord, you will need to place that note 13.7 cents flat (officially!). Here's a handy chart to help with this.]
some ways to get the most out of this app
Although I am sure I will keep learning new things, here are a few tricks to plug into your practicing strategies:
1. Tone generator: pick the best instrument to enhance yours, and choose registers to give you optimum resonance (and the most overtones). If you're working on piccolo excerpts, for example, avoid assigning the same register in which you're currently playing. Although this may be more challenging at first, you can add lower octaves and sustain multiple tones simultaneously.
2. Check your vibrato. Using the analysis option, use the graph as a visual check to explore the options available to you - amplitude (width) and velocity (speed). Are the pulsations regular? Tending to creep up or down (sharp or flat)? Stopping the vibrato while you switch from note to note? Having the visual feedback can powerfully reinforce the aural information we often neglect.
3. Record yourself! This is a sure-fire way to improve quickly and significantly. Even more powerful here is the ability to recording yourself while NOT looking at the screen, save the file, and then view the analysis. OUCH. Start to make the connection between what you hear and what you see regarding intonation tendencies, releases of phrases, attacks of notes, and other important details.
Try this app today and share some ways you've found!