polychord music app for iPad from gregory Wieber on Vimeo.

The new iPad App Polychord is best described as a mix between Audanika’s SoundPrism, Cognitone’s Harmony Navigator and a vintage Hammond Auto-Vari 64. The App pushes you toward only playing parts that sound right together so anyone can pick it up and sound like a real musician. I don’t mean to diminish the App’s usefulness as a real tool because it’s inspiring me left and right. There is a nice selection of drum patterns and you can control the tempo. There is also an arpeggiator which you can nicely fade in and out of it’s own sound (it will make sense when you try it). If they get this App working with Midi/external sounds it’s going to be drop dead essential. In the meantime your results will be thesixtyone indie or like the awesome wedding song in Napoleon Dynamite.

I’m having great fun making pretty music with Polychord. It’s $9.99 and available now (App Store link): click here

“Polychord is drums, bass, chords, and accompaniment all wrapped into one. Simply press one of the chord circles and your on your way to writing a song. Drums and bass follow the chords automatically, but the coolest part is probably the strum keys on the right: simply swipe your finger over the yellow keys to strum a chord.” – polychordapp.com

For more info: polychordapp.com

Harmony Navigator 2 coming soon!

One of my most loved audio software tools is about to reach version 2. Harmony Navigator from Germany’s Cognitone software will get some nice new features. The developer will also release a stripped down version called HN2 LE for those who don’t need the advanced features. Be sure to check out my screencast showing a few of the features of the original Harmony Navigator: click here

“After more than a year, it’s now time to bring Harmony Navigator to the next level. During the past year we more and more noticed that the needs of our users largely fall into two categories. While purists and fans of electronic music could comfortably do without virtual accompaniment bands, others wished they had more possibilities for adding their own patterns and building songs. Therefore we decided to offer two separate products for everyone’s needs and budget: A compact and very affordable product for pure harmonic work, and a more comprehensive product for drafting prototypes of entire songs. We invested a lot of work in order to enhance the features of Harmony Navigator and make it more comfortable to draft of entire songs. The new song window is the most important achievement. It features multiple parts on a timeline, which also supports loop playback. You can now maintain your entire project in a single window.” – cognitone.com

It should be released next month (Feb 2010). Read the full press release: click here

Simple Songwriter for iPhone is a chord finder.


I always say melody trumps the sounds you choose and I use a variety of helper software to find nice melodies. Harmony Navigator has been my favorite non-mobile application for this task. On my iPhone I’ve been using Star Guitar (iTunes link) to generate ideas and today I found another useful tool Simple Songwriter (iTunes link) from Hopefully Useful Software. It’s a simple chord selector/player/recorder and if you’re making lyric based songs it’s sure to give you a few ideas.

“Beginners to advanced musicians can use this app to leave thinking behind and bring the fun back into creating music. All the chords given sound great together and most pop/rock songs will use a combination of these chords. The touchscreen gives you the perfect environment to quickly and easily generate song ideas. When you have a great song idea, record it for later practice on your chosen instrument. List view allows you to browse your songs chords, while the song key section can transpose your idea to any key instantly.” – hopefullyuseful.com

For more info: www.hopefullyuseful.com

Related post: Harmony Navigator Screencast from wire to the ear.

Harmony Navigator Screencast from wire to the ear.

This is a 20 minute Screencast showing Cognitone Software’s Harmony Navigator. You will get to see different “palettes” and accompaniments producing wonderful music. We show you how to create a verse and chorus and then export the midi into Ableton Live. Once inside Ableton Live you will see how to set up your imported data in a meaningful way. The video is nicely sized so be sure to click the TV icon under the player to view the show in full screen mode.

You can also read an interview with Andre Schnoor the developer of Harmony Navigator here: Interview with Andre Schnoor of Cognitone Software.

Be sure to check out Harmony Navigator at www.cognitone.com and Ableton Live at www.ableton.com.

Direct download links:
Download MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)
Download Flash Video (.flv)

Interview with Andre Schnoor of Cognitone Software.

Andre Schnoor

Cognitone is a music technology software company based in Hamburg, Germany. I have come to love their first product Harmony Navigator. With Cognitone’s second release Music Prototyping System to be released in 2008 I thought it would be a good time to interview the founder and developer Andre Schnoor. Be sure to also check out the special wire to the ear screencast showing how to create a verse and chorus in Harmony Navigator and then bring it into Ableton Live.

Tell us about Cognitone and it’s employees. Tell us what your job is there?

Cognitone is my baby and my job is to teach it walking. I founded the company a while ago already, but spent the past years in the office developing the technology. Cognitone actually started just now after a longer period of under-the-radar operation. As of today, it’s still mainly me and supporting friends and family. I’m talking about “us” for two reasons: The people who invested time and money to help making Cognitone possible deserve some respect and I consider them part of the project. On the other hand, it’s also a promise. This is not the first company I started and startups tend to grow quickly. It is impossible to be successful in the long term without build a team. That said, I hope we will soon be able to offer interesting and challenging jobs to talented people.

Harmony Navigator is based around some advance music theories. Do you have classical music training?

I’ve always looked at theory only from the perspective of a creative person. If some scientific concept looked promising with respect to /making/ music, I swallowed it within days. For more than twenty years, I gathered my current knowledge by following this path. Classical music education however, seemed rather static and repetitive to me. I didn’t feel the desire to study music at an university. Although I have a master degree in computer science. Interestingly enough, most scientific approches in musicology originate from the background of the cognitive sciences (which are my specialty: artificial intelligence, perceptional psychology, neuroscience), rather than classical music theory.

Harmony Navigator

Would you consider a version of Harmony Navigator as a VST or Audio-Units plug-in?

Yes, this is definitely on the agenda. Plug-ins however, can’t offer the comprehensiveness and comfort of a desktop application. The main challenge here is to get rid of the menu bar and all those in-depth “workstation” features of the program and shrink it to suit the plug-in philosophy. Hence, the Harmony Navigator plug-in will be more lean and compact than the current program.

Seems like a lot pro-audio software company come from Germany. Steinberg, Ableton, Native Instruments, Emagic, Celemony, Vielklang, for example. Do you think there is any reason for this? Do you have any relationships with any of these companies or people that work at them?

Harmony Navigator - ColoringsWell, this must be German Wahnsinn. I think a vital part of the German mentality, especially with engineers, is an incredible endurance and perfectionism. Music software is complex enough to require this. Us krauts probably love to sacrifice ourselves for the beauty of a technology. Me for instance. It took me many, many years of research and development to get a working model for the music prototyping technology. In the eyes of a reasonable businessman, this is economical suicide. Anyway, now it’s there and it lives.

The local software scene is truly open minded and friendly. Just like a family. Many of us know each other. An unsuspecting person will likely not notice any sense of competition at the surface, although (or perhaps because) the market for music software is tight and tough. Especially after broadband Internet promoted software piracy to a threatening extent.

Harmony Navigator has some similar features of PG Music’s Band in a Box. Have you looked at or used Band Continue reading Interview with Andre Schnoor of Cognitone Software.