Tonal Energy is an app with extensive functions as a tuner, metronome, and general rehearsal aid. It is available on Apple mobile device platforms. Its primary feature is a large tuner display, featuring both a visual approximation and an exact reading of pitch in terms of cents sharp or flat. It also has a metronome function with a variety of subdivision features. A full chromatic scroll wheel allows the generation of pitches, intervals, and chords using characteristic sound samples of 16 different instruments. It also features a tab of more complex features including a spectral analyzer, waveform display, and overtone analyzer.
- Full chromatic tuner, complete with an approximate visual indication as well as a precise number of cents
- Intonation "difficulty" adjustment (intermediate, advanced, and pro)
- Full chromatic tone generator, with 16 characteristic instrument sounds and a five octave range
- Tone generator may be set to sustain pitches; can sustain unison pitches and any harmonic intervals
- Metronome with volume control, tempo adjustment, "click"-sound adjustment, subdivision adjustment, meter adjustment, beat 1 accent on/off, etc.
- Spectral frequency analyzer (see below)
- Waveform analysis display (see below)
- Automatic or manual transposition (may be turned on or off)
- Record / playback option
Tonal Energy is very stable, and I have not encountered any crashes or bugs in my experience. The basic functions of the app are very user-friendly - first time operators will be able to easily use the tuner and tone generating functions. Students will need guidance in understanding the more advanced spectral and waveform displays. However, implications abound for creative and cross-curricular activities in the classroom, linking in music theory, listening skills, physics, and acoustics. Young students are well-motivated and energized by the appearance of the Smiley Face on a solidly in-tune note.
- A variety of practice aids organized in one app. No need for separate tuner, metronome, tone generator, or recording apps.
- Affordable price compared to the price and hassle of having multiple apps or physical devices.
- Characteristic instrument sound samples in the tone generator allow for authentic learning experiences in building intonation and blend.
- Tone generator can be used for unison pitches, any harmonic interval, or chords of any key and quality.
- Different functions work simultaneously (for example, the metronome can be clicking away while the tone generator is being used).
- The tuner's transposition function can be turned ON or OFF, depending on the student's level of understanding
- Available on mobile devices that can easily be used during individual or ensemble practice.
- Metronome interface is a little tricky to use at first.
- While looking at Tonal Energy's display, students may become too-focused on tuning as a "visual" process only. They must be taught that it remains an auditory process.
- Only available on IOS devices.
Tonal Energy packs a variety of functions into a smooth, attractive interface at a very affordable price. Performers and educators can find all their basic practice aids in one app. The app has implications for all types of music education and learners of all ability levels. One must continue to teach students that tuning and playing in tune is an auditory process, not just a visual process of getting the smiley face to appear! As long as this caveat is considered, I can strongly encourage all music educators, especially those in the instrumental vein, to invest in this app.