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Jazz Box: A Look at the Chord and Scale Reference App for iOS

Jazz BoxJazz Box, in my humble opinion, has just helped to fulfill a need for a thorough, high quality harmonic study app. While not perfect and not 100% inclusive of every harmonic consideration, it goes way beyond any of the other apps I have seen in explaining scale considerations in the jazz idiom, spelling out various chords and explaining what certain scales are what they are and why they work. While the app’s name implies jazz, this app applies to most genres.

Jazz Box’s settings are minimal, providing options of bass or treble clef and for “correct” or “easy” chord spellings (hate double flats, anybody? E#?!)

There is also an overview meant to guide you through the app and explain the various screens of the app.

Here are the various sections and what to expect:

Jazz Box app screen exampleChords:
This feature couldn’t be more straight forward. Search for the chord quality you want, pick the root and the app spells the chord to you in standard notation.

Much like the chord feature, pick your root and scale type, and see it spelled out before you.

This is a very nice touch. Search for your chord type and the app will give you the 1st, 2nd (and sometimes more) choices as to what scale you should/could play over that chord type.

This “Learn” feature also has some sub-sections which are very informative:

  • Scale Choices: as explained above.
  • Scale basics: A nice, informative explanation of the use and function of the chosen scale (also includes the circle of fifths and some good information about Key signatures
  • Chord Basics: Chord construction, explained well!

That’s the app in a nutshell. The only things I’d like to see added would be an ability to tap on a chord or scale and hear it played and reference audio of a scale against a chord. (Note: while the app currently does not support and audio features, I’m told that they are coming in future updates.)

You no longer have an excuse not to start studying chord construction and scales over changes – and for $0.99! I still suggest that you explore this kind of information with an instructor, but this is a fantastic reference.

I give this app a solid B+ (with an A possible with the addition of audio in the future).

Jazz Box is a universal app, available on the App Store for $0.99. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and requires iOS 4.0 or later.