Notezilla (music app for iOS–also on the web)

Notezilla is, at its core, an app that pairs music scores with high quality recordings. The app was originally released in April (2014), and there have been two additional updates (released in the App Store) since it was originally published. The app itself is free, and comes with five free songs–and at the current time, you can purchase all additional and future songs (locked content) for $4.99.

The app itself is easy to operate; you can play a song at various speeds (the score must reload each time you choose a different speed), you can start or stop a song anywhere in a larger score, and you can zoom in or out to make music larger or smaller.

I asked about copyright aspects of the music, as there are no credits on the app. All of the music itself is in the public domain, and the recordings are also either in the public domain or used with permission.

In some ways, Notezilla is a “poor man's The Orchestra,” one of the apps recently featured by Apple (along with Notion for iPad) in their “Your Verse” advertising campaign. The Orchestra features videos, interviews, background text, and multiple ways of experiencing a score (for $9.99), but with parts from eight longer compositions. In comparison, Notezilla only shows and plays a score, but has the potential to add additional compositions, and even asks for users to make suggestions for future literature.

The app, as it stands, may not be very useful for secondary schools (other than music history classes), as the source material is in the public domain (basically published before 1929), and most secondary band and choral scores are newer than that; additionally, as the music is synced with a recording, there is no way to play “just” your part, or to do a “music minus one.” If you are looking for this kind of functionality, you will need to scan the music you are working on and then utilize notation apps or SmartMusic for that kind of work. There may be changes to Notezilla in the future that will add this kind of functionality.

I see Notezilla as being a great tool for music appreciation or music history classes (once the library grows). If the music on Notezilla could cover the works of many of the existing required listening lists of many collegiate music appreciation and music history classes, students would have instant access to scores and audio recordings without having to purchase those items (I spent hundreds of dollars on scores and recordings in my collegiate experience) or spending hundreds of hours in libraries. If you could get access to those scores and recordings for $4.99 in your own room, well, that's a bargain beyond belief. The only current “shortcoming” of the iPad app is that there is no way to advance to a particular place in a score without scrolling, something that would be difficult to deal with in a long composition with a lot of repeated material (in other words, how do you know where you are without measure numbers or rehearsal markings?).

If yo don't have an iPad, you can access Notezilla by going to their website (Notezilla.io), where you can interact with their scores much like on an iPad. This is a good business model; if you don't have an iPad (the most popular tablet in education), you can experience the app on other devices, including the Chromebook (I have tried it) and Android tablets (I have tried this as well). One word of caution: your iPad IAP will not grant you access to locked scores on the web, and vice-versa. This means that if you want both iPad and web access, you will have to spend $9.98, which is still less than a CD.

The developer has stated that they expect to release a big update in August with more content and some additional features. The model for the app/web application may change from a $4.99 all inclusive model to a different pricing model in the future, so if the app is interesting to you, it might be worth an investment sooner than later.

The only complication with Notezilla for 1:1 schools is the In-App Purchase, as businesses and education still cannot purchase IAPs in bulk. I wish that every app with an IAP also sold a full version (this includes GarageBand) so that schools could purchase apps with full functionality.

Notezilla is free on the App Store, and the functionality of the app can also be seen on their website, notezilla.io.

Addendum: TUAW blogged about Notezilla today and mentioned that the developer plans to add one score each week to the app. In a short amount of time, that will add up to a lot of content.

 

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Posted on July 11, 2014, in iPad Apps, Music Appreciation, Music History. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Notezilla (music app for iOS–also on the web).

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