There are a myriad of apps available for musicians, singers, recording artists and music educators. What they all have in common is cost, cost and cost. Whether you are talking about recording software or music theory tools, a premium price is usually attached to them if you are expecting quality and functionality. Perfect Ear 2 shatters this paradigm by offering one of the most feature packed apps geared toward aspiring musicians who wish to work on ear training…. for free!
Enter Perfect Ear 2
Perfect Ear two is a collection of drills, exercises, diagrams, examples and interactivity laid out with an easy to use interface for the sole purpose of training your ear to make you a better musician. Areas of focus are laid out on tiles. Tapping on one of the tiles takes you to the respective exercise. These include Interval Comparison, Interval Identification, Scale Identification, Chord Identification, Chord Inversions, Interval Singing, Rhythm Reading, Rhythm Dictation, Pitch Training, a Scales Dictionary, and Theory Articles.
Just browsing the areas of focus alone, you know you are dealing with a powerhouse of an application.
Practice Makes Perfect
Tapping on any tile brings you to a bunch of sub categories within the exercise itself. Tapping on “Interval Comparison” for example displays a long list of different interval types. Examples include “Major and Minor Seconds (Ascending, Common Root)” and “All Intervals Up To A Fifth (Ascending , Common Root)”. This list is on the left side of the screen while the right side displays a staff with a piano underneath.
From there, you tap on the specific exercise you want to work with and the fun begins. Tap “Start” and in the case of “Major and Minor Seconds” you hear an interval played ascending and see the start note of the interval as a dot on the key of the piano in question (i.e. F). You complete the exercise by tapping the key of the piano heard in the first interval and then tapping on whatever it is. In this example, a Bb to C was first played. We tapped on the C key and then pressed “First Interval”. We ended up being correct! Bb to C, a Major Second was the first interval played. From there you can go on, or repeat the exercise.
The other exercises work similarly. In Scale Identification, you can choose from a list of scales. The list of scales is quite extensive. We are beyond just Major and Minor scales here. Everything from Lydian, Mixolydian and Pentatonic are all included. In “7 Modes”, tapping “start” plays a scale and you have to choose from one of the seven modes on the right.
The Rhythm exercises are a stand out feature of this app. In Rhythm Reading, a rhythm is displayed on the screen. You are then prompted to tap the displayed rhythm on screen. We had mixed results with this. A seasoned session musician and educator like myself had no problems tapping the rhythms and knowing whether or not I was correct. Like all music software that requires input, amazing accuracy is required. This has to do with quantization. Tapping even a few ticks behind of ahead will yield “incorrect” every time. Such is the nature with even the most expensive music software. That said, having this feature here is amazing and an excellent tool for assisting with reading rhythm.
“Rhythm Dictation” fairs a bit better. A rhythm is tapped out to you and using notation, you are asked to spell out the rhythm. In one example, we were tapped two eighth notes and one quarter. By using the on screen notation, we were able to build the rhythm by tapping on the quarter and eighth notes. Sweet!
True Ear Training
More standout exercises include the “Interval Singing” and “Pitch Training”. Interval Singing will play a note which you can see on the on-screen piano and then a mic pops up asking you to sing the note. As if using Autotune™, you will see a tuner gauge your attempt at singing the note with accuracy down to the half step. This is super awesome! You can work at becoming a better singer on the go!
“Pitch Training” will play a pitch. From there, you are prompted to press the key on the piano which matches the pitch.
We simply cannot understand why this is a free app. Software with the same features on a PC or Mac could easily run more than $100. From one app on your smartphone or tablet, you can work on rhythm, you get an entire chord and scale dictionary, can assess your ability to stay on pitch… The features seem endless. We were left scratching our heads in disbelief (because the app is free) as we jumped from feature to feature. This app is a must have for any musician. We only give five stars as a maximum on reviews, but if we could give it 100 stars we would. PerfectEar2 is a must have and deserves the title as “The Ultimate Musicians Digital Resource”.