With little fanfare, a small company based
in Brooklyn, New York, has developed some
of the most intriguing mobile tab applications
available for the iPhone and iPod
Touch. Curious Brain, the company behind
TouchChords tab and learning apps, has
released at press time 19 tab applications,
two learning applications, and one tuner.
Two of the company’s most recent releases
are collaborations with Jimmie Vaughan and
Warren Haynes. The applications combine the
visual and audio aspects of learning tablature
by showing a translucent hand image for finger
placement while playing the song audio.
How It Works
The opening page of each app displays a
song list. From there, you can tap on the
song to open the tab or tap the Just Chords
button to view the song’s chord grips.
List of songs in Warren Haynes’ app. The app includes five songs from
Gov’t Mule’s By a Thread.
Once the tablature page is open, you can
choose which instrument part you’d like to
learn. Most of the songs have two or three
parts, such as Fake Book and Lead, though
a few songs involve more. For example, the
song “Frozen Fear” in the Warren Haynes
app has five instrument parts to choose
from—Fake Book, Performance, Lead 1,
Rhythm, and Slide. The Fake Book part shows
the easier open-chord version of the song.
The Fake Book, or Just Chords, version of “Come Love” in the Jimmie
Vaughan app, which features nine songs from Vaughan’s new album,
Blues, Ballads, and Favorites.
You have the option to change the tab setup
and guitar image—including a lefty mode—by
altering the settings. Also, for accompanying
audio you can select either the master recording
track or a synthesized guitar. When the
audio plays, the tab with lyrics follows along.
The Chord Library interface in the TouchChords free app, with the left-handed
The app includes a metronome—a handy
tool for musicians at all skill levels. Another
great feature is the tempo control, which lets
you set your own pace for learning the song.
This is especially useful when it comes to the
tricky guitar solos.
The company currently has three collaborations
in which the artists play a part in
requesting and facilitating the application. (In
addition to Vaughan and Haynes, the third
collaboration is with pop-punk band, Boys
Like Girls.) For the Vaughan and Haynes app,
each included song features free access to
the first few bars, with full tab available for
$1.99 per song. Vaughan’s app is free, while
Haynes’ is $.99 and includes one full song. For
both the Vaughan and Haynes apps, the master
recording track is included with the song
purchase. Both apps also include biography,
discography, and tour date information.
The remainder of the company’s tab and lesson
applications consist of licensed tab and
audio grouped by artist. Each of these apps
costs around $4.99 and features four or five
songs. For these apps, the master recording
audio track is available only if the user has
the song in their iTunes library. Sample artists
include the Police, the Rolling Stones,
and Spınal Tap.
In addition to artist apps, the free TouchChords
app offers a sampling of five songs that rotate
periodically, free short lessons offering genre-specific
riffs, and a chord library that illustrates
how to play voicings all over the fretboard. A
premium version ($2.99) features an expanded
chord library and video examples.
The tab for "Every Breath You Take" by The Police (G. Sumner) with the
left-handed mode engaged.
Curious Brain co-founder Kenny Engels told
that, while the company doesn’t
actively offer an app-creation service, if a band
is interested in creating an app, they can contact
the company for more information.