Jazz ScaleHelper: A Look at the Scale Analysis and Study App for iOS and Android
Jazz ScaleHelper is, at it’s essence, a discerning ear. The app listens to you play your scales and arpeggios and gives you feedback on what you just played, as well as a grade. It judges your note stability, intonation, time and shows you how many notes per minute you played.
The app’s analysis screen presents your scale in notation. My only complaint here is that it seems to display everything I play an octave lower than I played it, even though I have the app set for bass guitar.
There are three modes you can operate in:
- “Play any scale” simply allows you to play any scale, and the app will recognize it and judge your performance accordingly
- “Choose a scale” allows you to pre-select your scale or arpeggio to play.
- “Challenge me” requires you to create or select a syllabus from the preferences screen and then leads you through the given exercises
Multiple instruments are supported including most brass, reed and string instruments, and the app supports the common scales and arpeggios.
I found the app to be surprisingly accurate. As I mentioned earlier, the only thing that seems a bit off is the notation being off by one octave in the analysis screen for us bass players. This may be a problem with overtones… I’m not sure. During my review, I was playing a 4-string bass through my studio monitors at a reasonable volume.
Based on my experience, the scoring part could use some improvement. I have yet to get a perfect score, even when playing perfectly in tune – at least as perfectly in tune as a fretted bass can be. While I am quite secure in my ability to play a C Major scale, the app is a bit of fun and those just getting started with scales will likely find it useful.
All in all, I’m not sure that the app is really worth the $9.99 price tag as it does not include any handy lists of scales and arpeggios or anything that could be used as reference. It simply listens to you, records you in real time (which you can save) and provides the analysis and scores you.
This app is a novel idea, and one for the new generation. Technology is wonderful, isn’t it?