Navichord update – new features for excellent iOS chord and harmony exploration app

Download from iTunes App Storenavichord logoI reviewed Navichord here on the Music App Blog back in September 2014. The original release was designed to do one job – it allowed the user to explore chord structures and progressions and possible melodic association – but the design is so simple and elegant that, even though it was (at that stage) more of an educational tool or idea pad, rather than an actual musical instrument, it is a pleasure to use.

Having exchanged emails with developer Denis Kutuzov, I was aware that he had a list of other features he is aiming to add to the app and the first major update – taking the app to v.1.1 – appeared at the end of October. As I mentioned in a ‘MIDI performance app’ roundup article, the key new features involved MIDI in and MIDI out. The MIDI out is especially welcome as it turns Navichord into rather a nice MIDI performance tool for creating MIDI data to drive other iOS synths or to send to a DAW/sequencer for recording.

Navichord now includes a Roman numeral label option within its display...  Oh, and not the IAA transport panel also shown in the screenshot.

Navichord now includes a Roman numeral label option within its display… Oh, and not the IAA transport panel also shown in the screenshot.

Denis emailed me details of a further update that has arrived on the App Store today (although, at the time of writing, the app description hasn’t yet been updated on the UK store). This adds a number of new features. Top of the list is Audiobus and IAA support so, if you do want to use Navichord as an instrument with its internal sounds (perhaps when first sketching out a chord sequence idea?) you can now do that straight into your DAW and use the sketch to build upon. I gave both the Audiobus and IAA features a quick run through this morning and both seem to work well.

However, equally interesting (for me anyway) is the addition of the Roman numeral display option. This allows you to ‘pin’ a key in the app (there is a pin icon located ion the top strip when you have picked the key you want to work in) and then you can toggle on/off the display of Roman numeral chord labels. Lots of musicians are used to this type of notation for writing out chord sequences and it is also great if you need to transpose a chord sequence from one key to another (perhaps to suit a different singer?). And, given that lots of popular songs feature fairly standard chord sequences (I, IV, V, for example), this is very much a ‘songwriters’ view of expressing chord charts. It works brilliantly here and is a really useful option to have from both a practical and educational perspective.

The app now has Audiobus and IAA support and both seemed to work well on my test system.

The app now has Audiobus and IAA support and both seemed to work well on my test system.

Aside from a few performance tweaks, the other new features include enhanced MIDI options and automatic sharp/flat detection based upon the key you are working in.

Navichord really is a very cool tool and, because of the way the note buttons are arranged in the upper portion of the display, you can quickly learn quite a lot about chord construction or, with the newer MIDI out features, create a MIDI performance with another app. And this latest update – with the Roman numeral chord labels – is great for budding songwriters or if you want to transpose a chord sequence from one key to another. You can read the original Navichord review here but, now priced at UK£3.99, the app is very good value for money and well worth checking out on the iTunes App Store.


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    1. Could you pls advise if there is an app for this?

      There are many apps which show you all types of scales.

      However, is there an app which not only gives you scales but also gives which chords to go with those scales? So once you jam around in a particular scale, you also know which chords to play with.

      My sincere thanks,

      • Hi Jason, I don’t know if an app exists but for scales which divides an octave in eight steps ( the most used ones), if you write it along for two octaves and pick up one note every two, you build the chord

        • i.e.
          1- scale dorian:
          WholeStep – HalfStep – WholeStep – WholeStep – WholeStep – HalfStep – WholeStep
          (Tone SemiTone Tone Tone Tone Tone SemiTone Tone)
          2- scale dorian starting from E for two octave:
          E F# G A B C# D E F# G A B C# D E
          3- picking up one note every two :
          E G B -> E m chord
          E G B D -> E m 7 chord
          E G B D F# -> E m 7 9 chord
          and so on adding 11th and 13th (the latter is equivalent to 6th)


      • Navichord shows in-scale triads – see the screenshot above, notice light/dark roman numerals :) But it doesn’t have many scales.

      • Jason, not sure what style of music you’re working in but a tool I’ve tried is Youcompose which actually builds a harmony around your melody. I find it useful to generate ideas but you have to provide the melody yourself, and it renders your result in 4-part classical notation. I think Navichord would be great to build your basic harmonic structure, and then build your melody lines on top, or just create a good sequence to jam along. To derive a chord from a scale I think Oscar has the best answer, you simply have to hash it out on paper first. My opinion, of course. Would be happy to follow up if you want to keep the conversation going.


        — Rob

        • Rob thanks, I just bought YouCompose: the developer says it’s based upon the books of D. de la Motte (among others), so I had to buy it. Another similar app might be HarmonyWiz which I don’t own.
          @Jason: this is going too much out of topic, but my point is: try to learn the rules behind music theory and harmony so that you don’t have to learn by heart, are able to write your own composition easily and save some money too.

          • Hi Oscar, I hope it works out. I agree, knowing something about theory is really the way to go. I will definitely check out Navichord, also, because it does look like an interesting way to try some harmonies and drive other synth apps, pretty much like a sequencer. The MIDI and Audiobus/IAA features are essential for any app now. So many apps, so little time.

          • Hi Oscar, thanks for mentioning YouCompose, looks really interesting.

    2. Metaltellek says:

      GarageBand is ONE of this apps

      If YOU select the Scale you See the matching chords in the smart instrument parts

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