As most regular Music App Blog readers will be aware, my keyboard skills are not going to win me any prizes. As a consequence, apps like Chordion – by Olympia Noise Co – appeal to me as they provide a viable alternative for touchscreen MIDI performances but without the confines of a traditional (virtual) keyboard.
There are a good few apps that fall into this category; Synthecaster, SoundPrism Pro, ChordPolyPad and Gestrument, for example. However, Chordion has always been a personal favourite because of its easy-to-use design. The app is perhaps one of the best examples of some clever design to exploit the strengths of the touchscreen and create a playable interface that musicians can use. It’s not as deep as something like ChordPolyPad but, equally, it is very easy to use and configure so, when you just need to bang out a few chord or chords plus a bass line or melody, Chordion will usually get the job done very quickly.
It should be noted, however, that Chordion isn’t just a MIDI performance app; while that’s perhaps its main function, it also includes elements of a virtual instrument (via of its own internal sounds), an arpeggiator and a drum machine.
I did a full review of Chordion some considerable time ago on the blog and there have been a number of minor updates since then most of which dealt with bug fixes and minor improvements. However, while it is an app I use on a regular basis (and, in Patterning, Olympia Noise Co have one of my very favourite iOS music apps; it would easily make my personal ‘top 10 ever’ list), the last update to Chordion was actually way back in April 2015….. until yesterday that is, when v.1.5.0 arrived on the App Store.
This release brings a number of technical updates under the hood. Chordion is now a 64-bit app so clearly some future-proofing has been provided. It is also now ready for Audiobus 3. As a consequence, the app now also requires iOS9 or above… and users still on earlier iOS versions are warned to keep using the previous release. Anyway, as with the Triqtraq update I also posted about today, it’s great to see a well-used app given a technical make-over to make it ready for what’s coming elsewhere…. iOS11 and Audiobus 3 in this case.
If you haven’t given Chordion a try yet, it is really worth a look, particularly if you dislike using virtual keyboards. It makes playing basic chord progressions very easy, you can add melody (or bass) lines at the same time and the app even allows you to create some very nice arpeggios. It also has its own built-in drum machine. You can use the internal sounds (and some of them are actually rather good) but the real fun starts when you hook the app up to another iOS synth and drive the sounds in that. It’s great to see developer Olympia Noise Co. nudging the app forwards and it’s easy to use and configure. And, at just UK£3.99/US$3.99, Chordion is also an absolute bargain.