Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

July 24, 2009 • Reviews

Review: BandGeek for iPhone

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Anyone who has spent five seconds around a band room at some point in their life knows that the frequency of a middle A note is 440Hz – but what is its’ MIDI note number? Don’t know? Well then it is time for you to hit the iTunes App store and pick a very useful musical utility – BandGeek. Note: if you are asking ‘what’s a MIDI’ at this point, you should probably move along.

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The Hype:

BandGeek is a Music Theory Calculator for the iPhone and iPod touch. It allows Chord and Inversion calculation, Scale calculation, Diatonic Chord calculation, Pitch Class Set Interval Vector calculation, and Frequency and MIDI value calculation. It is the perfect tool for music theory students, composers, theorists, instrumentalists, performers, and anyone else needing quick music theory reference.

Scales (Major, Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian, Whole Tone, Pentatonic, Chromatic, Blues, Diminished, Octatonic, Enigmatic, Hungarian Gypsy)

Chords (Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, Augmented Major, Augmented Minor, Half-Diminished, Dominant
, Minor Major, +6 chords, Multiple Inversions)

Diatonic Chords (Major, Minor, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian)

Interval Vectors (Calculation of interval vectors, Forte numbers, and set types)

Frequency and MIDI (Frequency calculation and MIDI reference of pitch classes C-1 to B9)

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The Reality:

I will get my singular complaint out of the way now – I wish BandGeek had a ‘preview’ button so when I want to compare the sound of the D-flat ‘French +6’ and ‘German +6’ chords I could do so away from the piano.

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For everything else, this little app is fantastic. It offers chord spellings and scales from the mundane to the obscure, nice voicing and a fantastic integration with MIDI that I found particularly useful.

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To use BandGeek, you simply choose one of the five categories from the bottom and then crank the option wheels. The upper part of the screen shows the output, which changes in real time as you make changes.

There isn’t much else to say – if you want to know the chord voicing for a E flat minor 7, simply choose E flat as the key, minor as the mode, and 7th as the augmentation and read off the notes. It just works. Oh – and if you have any questions, just tap ‘Help’ and a context-specific window pops up. Take a look at couple more screens.

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BandGeek is one of those classic utilities that finds a need and meets it simply and efficiently – oh, and cheaply! Given that most software for digital music making costs hundreds of dollars, finding a handy utility like this for $1.99 is a (cheap) thrill. If you have ever searched your mind for the correct chord voicing, buy this now!

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Where to Buy: iTunes App Store Link

Price: $1.99

What I Like:
– Does exactly what it says, quickly and easily
– Nice integrated help system
– Clear enough to lay on a keyboard and still read
– Inclusion of MIDI note numbers is nice

What Needs Improvement:
– Wish the app played the chords and scales

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