ChordMaps2 is a music app for iPad which allows musicians, songwriters, music educators, and students to explore and improvise chord progressions, melody lines, and bass lines in both major and minor keys, most of the time tapping with just one or two fingers.
The most powerful feature of ChordMaps2 is that the user can explore and play common chord progressions by touching chord locations on one of the "musical maps."
You can work with ChordMaps2 as a...
Songwriter - to explore melody lines, bass lines, and chord progressions when you are away from your guitar or keyboard.
Music Educator - to demonstrate principles of music theory, (including major and minor scales, diatonic and secondary chords, common chord progressions like IV-V-I, ii-V-I, I-vi-IV-V, I-V-vi-IV, etc.). You can also create spontaneous ear-training exercises, and explore melodic lines and chord progressions with students in an interactive environment.
MIDI Musician - to tap out chord sequences, which are then played by one or more of the synth apps on your iPad, or you can send the MIDI information out through a MIDI interface to a computer running a digital audio workstation (DAW) like GarageBand or Logic Pro.
How ChordMaps2 Works...
ChordMaps2 is a MIDI controller. It works by being paired with a synthesizer app that generates sound. (Example synth apps include ThumbJam, SampleTank, bs-16i, Nave, GarageBand by way of MidiBridge, iM1, Launchkey, SynthMaster and many more.) ChordMaps2 sends the MIDI signals: the synth app responds to the MIDI information and creates the audio signals.
ChordMaps2 allows you to explore, play, or improvise interesting musical phrases and progressions on the iPad, in both major and minor keys. The MIDI information sent out can be played on a variety of synthesizer apps, or, with an iOS midi interface, sent to software or hardware synths.
There are video and audio demonstrations at the ChordMaps2 website (click the Developer Website link in the left column or visit mugglinworks.com/ChordMaps2). The video shows the kinds of musical phrases that can be played with ChordMaps2.
Fixed visual display elements - When moving from map to map, some of the backgrounds were loading incorrectly.
Fixed visual display elements - Some of the smaller display elements were not locating correctly when the device was rotated.
Ratings and Reviews
Access to Harmony & Melody
It’s great to be able to have access to tools which have organized harmony/melody theory in such a practical way that you can access it and incorporate it into your music creation process so seamlessly.
All of the chords in the app can be accessed from one page. You can select various chords, set the octaves for bass, chords, melody, and accompaniment parts plus set their MIDI destinations in the app.
Even though you may have limited knowledge of music theory, you can still connect the app to whatever MIDI compatible apps or hardware you have and try any number of combinations out and record what is of interest to you as a MIDI track and/or audio track in the DAW of your choice. From there you can do further editing and always return to the app for further exploration at anytime in the process.
With great power comes... um... a really crowded interface! 😜
This is, by far, the best music theory/performance interface out there. Probably not just for iPad but in general. Unfortunately it’s not exactly a pick it up, poke at it, and enjoy kind of thing.
The documentation is there, it just verbose and not really set up for musical neophytes to be able to understand. Which is unfortunate and a bit weird as this has serious potential to be an amazing learning and teaching tool for music theory. Even more odd since that’s precisely why the dev built it...
Anyway, if you can trudge though figuring it out, it’s ability to control up to like 7 different synth voices playing everything from chords, bass counter melody, melody, lead, solo, etc. all from one interface, all in a “musically coherent” manner is pretty amazing.
It’s probably better served pairing with hardware though because it’s full screen (and even that’s not enough) and a lot of app switching would be needed to really go nuts with the thing.
Buy it, learn it, love it!
Developer Response ,
Thank you for taking the time to write. I should probably give a little explanation. The crowded interface is the result of a significant design decision. As a songwriting musician, there are many moments at the keyboard where I need to quickly move from one musical idea to another. For example, I might be thinking... "Let's try this chord progression in the key of F... no, maybe in Eb... or how about Ab... here's a melodic idea... how about this for a bass line... maybe the bass should be played in octaves rather than single notes... back to the chord progression... let's try the right hand chord notes up an octave." These kinds of thoughts can come quickly when exploring or improvising. So, when the app was being developed, I decided to make these musical thoughts correspond, wherever possible, to just one tap on the screen. It was important to me to be able to switch from one idea to the next without hesitation, and without the delays that come from searching through menus or submenus. So I intentionally placed all the musical options I could on the one screen. Did I want to switch to a different key, perhaps in the middle of a phrase? One tap gets me there. Did I want the bass note to play in octaves instead of single notes? One tap accomplishes that. Did I want to improvise bass lines and melodic lines spontaneously without having to reposition a keyboard? That would require two keyboards--one for bass lines and one for melodic lines. It takes up a fair amount of the screen, but both keyboards are always there. When finished, everything was all packed in tightly. The disadvantage is that it looks crowded and confusing. But the good thing is you can move like lightning from one thought to the next, exploring chords, melody lines, and bass lines very freely, changing keys at any time, going from major to minor and back, changing which synths apps are playing... all in real time. So, yes, it was a tradeoff, and I chose the path that would give me the musical freedom and spontaneity I experience when I'm playing a real keyboard. My hope is that as musicians explore the crowded interface, the various options will start to make sense, and the person playing will experience the musical freedom that I was searching for when making these decisions.
Wonderful, if a little overcrowded
I've enjoyed this app for years. When the new OS started giving warnings, I was worried the app would get updated. While I preferred the simpler interface, everything is all on one page now, but it also means using a stylus to press the correct sound. All things considered, I extremely pleased with this app. I even used it with KORG Gadget with no trouble.
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.