Ariel Ramos, Berklee graduate and Software Writer for mDecks Music, is the mind behind the creative development of the Mapping Tonal Harmony app and workbook series. Just browsing through mDeck Music’s webpage, you’ll find an impressive list of products and their compatible devices. The mDecks series boasts a wide range of products including: technique workbooks, jazz piano voicings books, rhythmic training apps, and practice tutorials. In this review, we’ll be focusing on just one of the products listed above. Even though we cover a broad overview of what the app is generally capable of, we barely scratch the surface of the unexposed iceberg of functionality this app provides.
The website states that, “The main objective of these books is to provide students, teachers, composers and songwriters with a tool that will aid them in hearing, analyzing, foreseeing, and composing harmonic progressions without struggle, in all keys alike.” We found, however, that this app far surpasses those aforementioned general descriptions. The Mapping Tonal Harmony (Pro 5 version) app is essentially all about developing your ear to guide your creative inspiration and understanding of chords. It visually displays otherwise complex and confusing relationships between chords in a digestible manner, granted you do breach the initial learning curve. Once you figure out the layout and can easily maneuver the layered menu systems, this app is actually a breeze to use. Upon initial impressions, this app admittedly seems daunting and more effort than it’s worth; however, I implore anyone who has an eagerness for grasping new material to give it a chance to expand their mind.
What we like about the app is that it can dually function as a supplement to harmonic ear training, allowing you to develop a familiarity to hearing the relationships between chords and their harmonic functions within certain contexts. It features so many programmable algorithms that enable you to learn voicing variations, quickly transpose keys, adapt voice leading, and even load preset progressions with their analysis and cadences already included.
The coolest feature of this versatile app is its ability to decode and analyze relationships between chord progressions real-time in actual songs. You can load a song and watch the app seamlessly give accurate visual representations of root motions, cadences, modulations, and so much more. If that sounds interesting to you, we definitely recommend checking out mdecks.com/mapharmony.html, where you’ll be sure to find dozens of YouTube tutorial videos and practice examples for using the app effectively.
Whether you’re seeking additional auxiliary material for studying, or you’re looking for a stronger handle on chord progressions for writing music, Mapping Tonal Harmony will certainly assist you in those pursuits. Best of all, if you’re really seeking that perfectionist’s A+ or you’re just extremely proactive in learning a new skill, there is an optional collection of tonal harmony workbooks available for purchase here. This app wins our strongest recommendation for an app so far.