New classical app makes music theory fun

23 July 2012, 10:54 | Updated: 23 July 2012, 10:56

Learning scales and theory tests are often a musician’s least favourite pastimes. Not any more, thanks to a new gaming app.

Musicians will be able to practise theory and learn their scales with the help of a new app for iPhone and iPad. SingSmash combines music theory tests with a brightly coloured computer game to enable students to learn – without the need for expensive theory lessons.

Gamers are asked to sing a pitch into their phone or tablet. If they hit the right note, they bounce a ball across the screen to break blocks, much like the classic 70s game, Pong. By using the idea of a game, creator Charlie Williams believes the app will introduce users to basic music theory subliminally.

“I didn’t want to put theory up front and scare people by stating ‘Now try and sing a harmonic minor scale’ - which can sound pretty daunting” said Williams. “But if you beat a level, then you find out ‘Guess what? You’ve just sung a harmonic minor scale!’ - people can start to gain confidence, recognise notes and even discover talents with voice and pitch they may have never realised they possess.”

Williams, a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, wanted to create a game to make theory fun, as opposed to learning complex technical names which might seem elitist or put people off music for good. He said the way music was taught to beginners often missed the point – the most important thing, he thinks, is to have a go.

In future, Williams and his team plan to create a multiplayer version of the game, and adapting it to include rhythmic exercises. The app is available for download for 59p.