The popular music transcription software Capo has finally entered the mobile app market with the recent release of Capo Touch for the iPad and iPhone.
In a nutshell, the app is the mobile musician’s best friend. Simply import a song from iTunes into Capo touch and you will be presented with…well, just about everything you need to start working on a tune.
As an example, I had the task of charting 20 cover songs for a duo project where I’m playing acoustic guitar instead of bass. I’m not a great guitarist by a long shot so I can use all of the help I can get when it comes to transcribing guitar parts.
I used Capo touch on my iPad to help me create the charts while I was traveling. Here’s how it worked:
- I opened a song from my iTunes library in Capo. The app quickly calculated the wave form, beat locations, song key, and mapped out chords for me. In less than 25 seconds I had a workable chord chart.
- Like most vocalists, there are certain keys that work better for the singer’s range than others. I used the pitch slider to adjust to my partner’s preferred key and all of the chords instantly morphed to the new key.
- I like to experiment with alternate tuning from time to time. I can change the app settings to go from standard tuning (EADGBE) to drop D (DADGBD), or any other alternate tuning. Capo touch instantly morphs the chords to the new key.
- With guitar being a secondary instrument for me, I can have Capo suggest alternate chord voicings for will work best for the song and my limited dexterity on the guitar neck. By touching the chord diagram, Capo strums the guitar chord so I can hear it and listen what other voicings may sound like.
- At this point, I can write out the chart and make my tweaks on paper.
- I can also save the Capo file and send it to my partner so she can see the final arrangement. Since storage space on my iPhone and iPad is limited, I prefer to use Capo touch’s built-in feature of syncing the file with my iCloud account.
- Repeat for the other 19 songs.
Once I have every song saved and charted, I can turn Capo touch into a practice tool. I use the looping feature to repeat and slow down challenging sections that I need to get under my fingers.
The heart of Capo touch is the Chord Intelligence engine. Take a minute to think about what this technology does. It analyzes the frequencies at a moment in time and decides what chord is being played. Simple if you have only a bass plucking a C. Add a guitar strumming a CMaj chord (C-E-G) and a CMaj chord will be displayed. Add a singer belting a B and our CMaj is interpreted as a CMaj7 chord. Toss in the harmonics from a snare drum or cymbal and you have now opened up a large sonic spectrum that the app must accurately decipher.
The Chord Intelligence engine relies on a rather enormous sampling of chords that it attempts to match to the song it’s analyzing. Successive chords are analyzed a second time to determine what the likelihood is of the chord movement is. Is a CMaj7 more likely going to an F#sus or a GMaj7? On my iPhone 5C, this musical math is completed in about 25 seconds for a 3:30 song.
And physics being physics, it’s objective. Sometimes your subjective ear may not like what Capo is telling you. The developer, Chris Liscio, is also a musician and took our fickleness into account. We can change the chords. Touch the chord diagram and a screen appears letting us select a new voicing from a list of suggested chords or select an entirely different chord.
For iOS users, the Capo touch app can be a powerful transcribing, charting and practice tool for your musical toolbox. You can learn more about Capo touch at supermegaultragroovy.com/products/capo/ios or download the app for $4.99 (one app works for both iPad and iPhone) at the iTunes store.