I 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.
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.
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.