As I commented a few days ago when reviewing Tom Reinert’s Groove Metronome app, music apps don’t have to be headline grabbers in order to be useful. InTune – produced by a team within the Music Department at Wittenberg University – is exactly a case in point. The app provides the user with a test of their ability to distinguish between the pitch of two tones. The aim of the app is that, with practice, you will begin to improve your ability to hear intonation differences and this, in turn, will bring benefits to your all-round music skills (for example, in spotting instrument tuning issues).
Using the app is simplicity itself. It repeatedly plays two tones and the user is asked to indicate whether the second tone is pitched higher or lower than the first. To start with, the pitch of the two tones is a semitone apart and the process is, therefore, quite easy. However, successive pairs of tones ask you to distinguish between progressively closer pitches until you get down to very small differences. The test continues until you misidentify three times at which point a ‘score’ is generated for that session.
And, well…. that’s about it. The intention is that you repeat the training at regular intervals – and each session might just take a couple of minutes depending upon how good you get – so that your perception of intonation differences gradually improves.
According to the developers, tests with the app using students at Wittenberg University suggest that student’s ability to identify pitch differences improved three times faster with regular practice compared to those that didn’t test themselves in this fashion.
Anyone involved in music making could benefit from training their ears to ‘hear’ more clearly and InTune is a useful tool for doing that in the context of pitch. No, it’s not the most exciting app you might ever purchase but, at £0.69 (or the equivalent $/€ price), it won’t knock a serious hole in your financial position either way. I can easily imagine plugging in my iPhone’s headphones and spending just a few minutes of my daily commute testing how good my pitch detection is and trying to beat my best score. InTune is a neat little utility and yet another example of how smart phones and tablets can be used to contribute to your musical skill set.