Open up This iPad App for Christmas

December 23rd, 2012 by

Where’s a lead sheet when you need one? More often than not, I need to comb through binders of miscellaneous charts

(which I attempt to keep alphabetized) or google a tune and hopefully find the one I’m looking for.

The Paperplane Co, makers of a brand new app called Treble have stepped in to provide a place to find, read and store lead sheets on your iPad. They  invited me to check out their Limited Christmas Preview Version 1.0.

Here’s what I found:

Tune Directory: A lovely, I might even say “decked out” opening page featuring an alphabetized directory of 25 holiday tunes. For a complete list, check out their facebook page.

Notation of Tune: Once a tune is selected, the tune’s melody appears on the treble staff with lyrics below and the composer and transcriber is included if available. As I prefer to read the tune off the treble staff, I adore this feature.

Chord Symbols: Chord symbols are provided above the staff in typical lead-sheet fashion.

Time signature: Always good to note.

Key Signature Buffet: THE most attractive feature of this app: the key signature can be determined by YOU! At the top of the screen, there is a slide ruler. Slide the pointer to your desired key and the tune and chord symbols are immediately transposed. Talk about convenient!

As I continue to engage students in reading from lead sheets, this will be an invaluable tool to encourage “faking” LH chords but also changing keys with confidence. For those singers who request a key to fit their range, this app is a true gift for accompanist and bands…

Here’s some things on my wish list for Treble:

A Band: As a fan of iReal b, I was hoping for a “band” or rhythm section to play along with me as I read through the chord chart. No band, just the chart.

Notation Editing: As tunes differ slightly across the globe, I found some to be vary from how I usually hear them. There is no way to modify or annotate the tune on the staff to make changes.

Chord Symbol Editing: Although most would agree with the chord symbols provided, some seemed incorrect and

others, I would have preferred a different chord choice. Again there is no way to edit the symbols as far as I can tell. As a teacher and improviser, it would be highly valuable if notes and chord symbols could be modified. This would be a terrific way to teach chord substitution, inversions, altered chords, etc.

Alignment: At times the chord symbols do not line up correctly with the melody note and lyrics appear “squished” beneath the treble staff. Key signatures are missing at the beginning of each line and spacing between note values needs attention. Overall, a cleaner format would allow for easier reading.

Page Turns: Some tunes include more lines than what fit on an iPad screen. It is possible to “shrink” the size of the lead sheet to fit the screen but the notation is quite small and it appears the app does not adjust to tipping the screen to the horizontal view which might make the print larger. I prefer the larger notation but  instead of swiping to view the next line on a new page, you must scroll  (using an upward swipe) to view more lines. I found it hard to track which line I was on once I scrolled down the screen.

Option to Create: Although there are instructions provided on how to create an original lead sheet, (by tapping the word “Import”) it still remained unclear and tricky to go about this task. Here’s a link to the instructions. Apparently, Treble allows you to create and share lead sheets with a Treble community but I saw few prompts or a menu for instructions on how to do this while using the app.

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Leila’s Opinion of  Treble Version 1.0: Free

Application Potential: 4/5  Having access to common lead sheets WITH a notated melody and being able to transpose them with a finger tip makes this app extremely appealing, especially if my wish list (or at least part of it) comes true! I’ll be taking my iPad along with me while visiting family and I know Treble will come in handy while enjoying holiday tunes.

Ability to Use with Ease: 3/5 Although it is extremely easy to change keys,  the appearance of the charts could be cleaned up. Obvious prompts, a menu and an easier method for annotating, creating and sharing orignal charts would greatly enhance the convenience of the app.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5 Launching a holiday edition of the app makes a perfect gift for friends and family and it’s FREE!

Total Score: 12/15

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Treble has strong potential to be a top-notch app. 

I hope to see further editions released with more tunes and options in the near future. 

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Product Reviews

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss and enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 89. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore I provide "blended" instruction of Classical, Jazz and Pop. The ever-changing tools of tec... [Read more]

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