The Chimerist

Posts tagged The History of Jazz

There is not an app for that, or at least not one I can find: Consider this the first in an occasional series in which The Chimerist will gripe about some gaping holes in the selection in the App Store. 

I’m not a musician. I have no desire to be a musician. But I do like music and have always felt my lack of a decent (or, really, any) musical education, particularly in the two genres I listen to most: classical and jazz. 

So I was excited when I stumbled across The History of Jazz, by 955 Dreams (developers of the Band of the Day app). Then I read the reviews, which indicate that the text is lifted from Wikipedia and that there are “glaring omissions” and other shortcomings, suggesting a lack of will or funds to obtain the rights to use all the musical tracks needed 

I understand that rights are a headache — a constraint on app production that I don’t think many consumers appreciate. Still, could there be a more ideal platform for music education than the iPad? Text and notation can run across the screen as the audio plays. The text can explain basic musical concepts and structures as you hear them. Particularly in the case of classical music, I always feel that there’s more going on than I’m getting, and a little help would make the experience so much richer.

So far, the only classical music appreciation/education apps I’ve encountered have been intended for kids and focus on the lives of great composers, rather than on explaining what makes them great. By contrast, there are countless music-making apps, simulators of everything from drums and pianos to ukeleles. I know I should celebrate the creativity liberated by such digital instruments, but it would be nice of the needs of the would-be connoisseurs were as well-served as those of the dabblers. 

Am I wrong? We’d love to hear about any apps you know of that do this, and while you’re at it, a pianist friend wonders when someone will devise a sheet music app that can listen to the piece being played and turn the page on its own when needed.  

Laura Miller