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  • Case: Musiclock

    Learning music theory with a mobile app

Case: Musiclock mobile app
Client: PerTunes
Tasks: UX design, iOS implementation

Musiclock is an answer to a problem sure to be familiar with many more or less active musician: playing itself is great fun, but when it comes to learning music theory and scales, the hobby starts feeling more like a chore. For the 18-year-old Perttu Pölönen, the methods in which music theory was taught had always felt a bit weird. It was not that the concepts themselves were overtly difficult: they were simply explained in needlessly complex manner and, worse still, often without an apparent practical connection. Music theory had become a boogie man that scared off both classically trained musicians and rock ‘n’ rollers alike.

Thinking this, Pölönen had his heureka moment. There are only 12 notes that any scale in the world can include. What would happen if you placed those notes on a clock face?

Based on this idea Pölönen ended up giving birth to Musiclock, a tool with which one can easily visualise, understand and remember all musical scales and their modes. The simple, yet brilliant idea instantly gained momentum: Pölönen won the first price in the 2013 European Union Contest for Young Scientists and was also named as the most creative Finn at the 2014 Slush startup event.

 
 
From an Idea to an Application
 
 

Together with his brother, Pölönen started a company around his invention. From a very early stage it was clear that a mobile app would be the most fitting format for the idea—learning the scales would be easy anywhere. The brothers joined forces with seed investor company Koppicatch, and after careful consideration, Taiste was chosen as the developer.

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The goal of the application was first and foremost implement the wonderful base idea in a form that would be fun and addictive to use. In addition, it had to be approachable to players of all ages and skill levels. We ended up with a solution in which the UI consists of not only the clock itself, but also features playable piano keys and a collection of backing tracks, with which the user can jam melodies from any scale she likes. The free version of the app features just two backing tracks, whereas the full commercial version contains a greater number of options from various musical genres.

Building the mechanics of the clock, piano keys and backing tracks to a digital form required deep understanding of music theory from the developer. That is part of the reason why we felt the project was such a perfect fit for us: all our team members happened to be either musicians or music enthusiasts themselves. Communication-wise, it was easy to hit the right notes (pun intended) from the get-go.

 
 
Release and Further Development
 
 

The strategy of the brothers was to release Musiclock gradually around the globe, so that we could react to the user comments between the launches in different countries. In Finland, the app was released in April 2015 and was met with high praise: at the time time of writing, review average was five stars out of five–before a single update. Moreover, the app immediately made it to Apple’s Popular Apps category.

Musiclock-keksijät ja tekijätiimi skoolaavat julkaisun kunniaksi

Due to tremendous success, Musiclock’s story will no doubt continue. The carefully crafted base platform makes it perfect for add-ons of all kind. And because different musicians have very unique interests and needs, the customisation options are practically unlimited. The Pölönen brothers have at their hands a tool that might revolutionise the way music theory is studied–it has been a joy to be a part of the project.

It would have been easy to find a developing company that would simply have implemented our idea by the numbers. However, we wanted to work with someone who was genuinely interested in the project. Taiste immediately won us over, because we felt they really understood what we were going for. Working together has been really smooth and flexible.

Perttu Pölönen

Creative Director, PerTunes

The brilliant idea behind Musiclock very much resonated with the whole company, since we're all either musicians or music enthusiasts. Getting the implementation right was highly important, because building the app's engine required a great deal of knowledge of music theory. Working with the client has been a great pleasure and the finished product truly feels like it's ready to conquer the world.

Mikko Harju

Technical Director, Taiste

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