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TouchChords Mobile Apps

Innovative mobile applications for tab

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 mode engaged.

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 Apps
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 Premier Guitar 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.