I was contacted by a promotional firm for the developers of Musicopoulos, a Music Theory app for iOS, specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch (it is not optimized for the iPad). The app currently sells for $1.99 on the App Store. I chose to do a video review, which appears below. Additional written comments will appear below the video.
Musicopoulos attempts to offer theory lessons along with exercises to reinforce those theory concepts. Twelve “units” are offered, covering everything from Notes and Intervals to Melodic Minor Scales. When you enter a unit, you are taken to a test, where you are asked to enter notes or intervals that answer the various questions. A single tap on the screen brings up a menu allowing you to go back, or to look at an actual theory lesson on the subject. Additionally, you can participate in four “Sight Reading” activities, although they are “Ear Training” activities than “Sight Reading” activities. These utilize a test as well, and you can choose to focus on one staff or the other.
In theory (no pun intended), the app is a great practice tool for students learning music theory. There are some things to be aware of, however. First, as a nit-picky item, flats are entered with the letter “b” not an actual flat sign, and sharps are entered with the number sign (#). In typing, this is an acceptable compromise (although there are free fonts available for that exact purpose). However, for an app, the actual symbols should be used. Another potential issue is that the app isn’t a universal binary. Although it works on the iPad, I don’t understand why all (new) apps aren’t created to work equally on all devices, unless an iPad version is going to offer additional functionality and should be sold as a separate app (e.g. Symphony vs. Symphony Pro). This app is geared towards the educational market, and many schools will be moving to the iPad. It’s time for all apps to take the plunge and be universal binaries.
Furthermore, it seems strange that you have to go through the test to get to the theory lesson–in my mind, you should have to get to the test through the theory lesson. And although each exercise is timed, no records are kept. It would seem more beneficial if you were at least competing against a prior time with a set number of questions per level. Additionally, the timer begins at the beginning of each test. In the case of intervals, the timer begins when the first note is played, and continues to run while the second is played. The timer should begin after the second note has sounded.
Intervals always sound up, in a melodic fashion rather than harmonic. For testing, chords are always spelled, and not identified by sound (at least until after the chord has been spelled correctly). And again, the “Sight Reading” exercises are really “Ear Training.”
Also, when you exit the app and come back into it, odd notes sound when the app comes back into use. This has to be a bug, because the notes are usually dissonant with each other.
I don’t want to sound too negative about the app…it offers a huge amount of review potential for the student learning music theory for the first time. For $1.99, it’s a great start (there is no reason the app cannot continue to develop), although I would also say that you should give Music Theory Pro a look for $.99 as well, which offers some of the same features (Although the built-in theory lessons are nice with Musicopolous).
You can find the website for Musicopoulos at this link (and, no, the sound track isn’t fitting for a Music Theory app at all).
Here is the “official” YouTube video about the app: