February 8th, 2015 | by VoiceCouncil
The app doesn’t play the exercise for you or even give you a starting pitch. Music readers with access to a piano won’t mind this, but beginner singers will not be able to use this app.
This app makes serious musical training more challenging and more beautiful with not only scales, but also melody excerpts from respected composers, jazz ii-V-I progressions and fresh patterns.
The drills cover an endless variety of musical concepts. You can customize the key, tempo and voice quality, and set it to repeat or cycle constantly through key changes.
The developers take singers very seriously and have listented to their requests for starting pitches and audio examples. We can expect to see these in the next version.
Classical singers will love this app! Even singers from other genres will find plenty that applies to them. You can practice patterns that follow the ii-V-I jazz progression and you can even sing blues scales. Then there is the endless library of other melodies and etudes that are actually excerpts from respected composers. It is because of this library of exercises, that Sonoptic is a serious tool for improving vocal skill as well as musical understanding.
I was a little surprised when I realized this app doesn’t play the exercises for you or even give you a starting note. The app is designed for all instruments, but as a singer using this app, you have to be able to read music and have an instrument nearby for reference. This app is not for people who want to fart around – this stuff is boot camp. I was pretty shabby when I first tried some of these exercises! I jumped right into a challenging major 7th arpeggio pattern but since I haven’t needed to sight read in a while, I was rusty. You can set Sonoptic up to be less challenging by choosing simple major scales with a slow tempo and not cycling through key changes, but even then, this app is a tough drill sergeant. And by the way, it doesn’t just go mindlessly up and down a scale. It creates melodies and patterns within the scale that you haven’t sung before. What’s more, this app holds up a mirror in real time to your voice. It doesn’t just tell you if you are flat or sharp. As you sing, the somewhat messy-looking visuals also show you your voice’s waveform laid over the notation so you can see how loud or soft you are. You can check your timing as compared to the metronome and even hear yourself back instantly. Getting all this immediate feedback on my voice inspired me to pull up my socks and see if I could do a better job. I improved after just one session with this app.
As with any singing app with visual feedback, I have a tendency to get fixated on the looking, instead of the listening. I actually try to look away from the app when possible to focus on my tone and posture, which are two things the app is not able to evaluate!
Like most music apps, there are always a few milliseconds of latency (a small delay between when you sing and when it registers on the screen), so you have to really listen to the metronome and not let the visuals throw you off.
Find Sonoptic at the App Store on iTunes