Politonus III is the 3rd volume in the Politonus Ear Training Series by mDecks Music.
While Politonus I is a multi pitch ear training to help you develop tonal ear training (perfect and relative pitch) and Politonus II is dedicated to Intervals, Triads & Seventh Chords, Politonus III concentrates in Scales & Modes.
Politonus III will help you recognize all the modes in the three fundamental source scales: Ionian, Melodic Minor & Harmonic Minor.
Can you recognize the difference in sound between Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian, or Ionian #5, Altered, Mixolydian b9 b13? Politonus III will help you do that.
Reverse Ear Training in Politonus III
There are plenty of ear training apps that allow you to train your ears but they are all based on playing a note-group and asking you to identify it.
Politonus III uses a different approach called: Reverse Ear Training. (also used in Politonus II but a slightly different variation)
Here’s an example of an exercise in Politonus III where the app is asking you to create a Locrian sound.
There’s music playing in the background and you must change it so it is in the Locrian Mode. Here’s how you do it:
Each half-moon controls a degree in the scale.
Tap on a moon to toggle between two possible states which will change that degree by a half-step.
There will be one to three moons depending on the current level.
You will not know which degree each moon is controlling, nor which state makes the pitch higher/lower.
You must use your ears to figure it out. The sound for the requested scale is represented by the squares below the name of the scale.
There are different ways you can go about solving these puzzles, you can try and listen to individual degrees, or you can try and listen for an overall locrian sound.
Politonus III demo: Ear Training (Scales & Modes) Soon to be available - YouTube
Machine Learning Algorithm
On top of using the reverse ear training method, Politonus III creates the next exercise based on your past responses using machine learning. This allows Politonus III to optimize the sequence of exercises so you can advance at the fastest pace possible based on your previous aura skills improvement.
Once you solve the puzzle, Politonus III will up your level automatically.
Smart Progress View
Another cool feature in Politonus III is the Progress View. In this view, the app shows you your current progress (achievement / familiarity) for each individualsound.
One look at the progress view and you’ll know how familiar you are with each mode. Also, you will learn there aren’t that many anyway.
Each sphere contains a mode from the three main source scales. All possible modes are in this view. The spheres will move from the unfamiliar to the proficient level as you improve. Your final goal is to have all spheres shown inside the proficient layer. The lower the sphere is in the view, the better you know that mode.
Ear training is an essential skill for every musician. Being able to identify groups of notes as one sound-type is not only useful when listening but also when writing and composing music.
There are three fundamental structures that we must be able to identify if we want to become better musicians: Intervals, Triads & Seventh Chords. Politonus II concentrates in the development of your aural skills to identify these three note-groups.
Reverse Ear Training in Politonus II
There are plenty of ear training apps that allow you to train your ears but they are all based on playing a note-group and asking you to identify it (one at a time)
Politonus II uses a different approach called: Reverse Ear Training. In this method, a sound (note-group) is displayed and a set of different sounds (or note-groups) is played in sequence. You must then select the sound that matches the requested note-group.
Here’s an example of an exercise in Politonus II where the app is asking you to find a Major 3rd. Each sphere will then play the sound hidden in it. You then have to decide which sphere hides the Major 3rd and select it.
This method forces you to listen to the different note-groups while comparing them to the sound you hear as a major 3rd in your head. Not only do you have to find the major 3rd but you ar also classifying the other intervals played.
This optimizes the speed at which you learn to identify the different note-groups, because your brain is classifying multiple note-groups simultaneously on each exercise.
Machine Learning Algorithm
On top of using the reverse ear training method, Politonus II creates the next exercise based on your past responses using machine learning. This allows Politonus II to optimize the sequence of exercises so you can advance at the fastest pace possible based on your previous aura skills improvement.
Once you solve the puzzle, Politonus II will up your level automatically.
Smart Progress View
Another cool feature in Politonus II is the Progress View. In this view, the app shows you your current progress (achievement / familiarity) for each individualsound.
One look at the progress view and you’ll know how familiar you are with each interval, triad or seventh chord. Also, you will learn there aren’t that many anyway.
Each sphere contains an interval, triad or seventh chord. All possible note-groups are in this view. The spheres will move from the unfamiliar to the proficient level as you improve. Your final goal is to have all spheres shown inside the proficient layer. The lower the sphere is in the view, the better you know that interval, triad or seventh chord.
To learn more about Politonus II visit mDecks.com or click on the picture below:
Every Jazz Musician knows what a Fake-book is. We’ve all played songs based on lead-sheets, where the chords are just an approximation of what really is going on in the song’s progression.
Although Jazz harmony is very similar to TraditionalTonal Harmony, it is also packed with functions borrowed from modes other than the standard source scales (major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, etc.)
The Jazz Standards Progressions Book is the first publication ever with 1000+ jazz standards progressions, fully analyzed chord-by-chord, with chord symbols, functions, chord-scales and arrows & brackets analysis. This is unique material to study, understand and perform jazz standards from a new perspective. The harmonic analysis was hand-made by well-versed jazz musicians and every function, chord-scale, modulation and pivot-chord was greatly discussed to create the best possible harmonic interpretation of the progression from a “jazz viewpoint”.
Each volume in the collection is available in PDF format and Paperback with coil-binding (ideal for the music stand) or perfectbinding; for Concert, Eb and Bb instruments. The PDF version of the books offers searchable text, and easy browsing with shortcuts to songs and chapters in the book and it is accompanied by and XML file with all the same jazz standards progressions which you can import into Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro to study each progression like never before, use it as a play-along, transpose it to any key and have the progression loaded into an interactive map that reveals the secrets of harmony.
There is also a re-harmonized version of each volume which includes all the same jazz standards re-harmonized, using effective re-harmonization techniques in the Jazz language.
The Jazz Standards Progressions Book. 1000+ Jazz Standards Analyzed - YouTube
See Music is a complex app that listens to you playing an instrument or singing and then gives you instant note-by-note feedback on your performance
In order for See Music to work properly the audio inputs and outputs on your device must be set up correctly.
See Music work on iPhone, iPad and macOS.
In iPhone and iPad audio settings are very simple. The only thing you have to adjust is the ambient noise filter so that the app ignores audio below a certain threshold level (which should also be done on the macOS version)
You do this adjustment in the Tuner panel of the app (so you can adjust your instrument’s tuning and at the same time tweak the noise level before start practicing)
If the mic your are trying to use is not the one receiving the data you can change it by tapping on the Check Mic button and choose the one you want to use
On macOS there are a couple of things to try if the app crashes on launch. Since there are plenty different audio interfaces the combinations of inputs and outputs are endless. Some audio interfaces lock the access to the mic unless the software provided by the interface is in use.
We found the most reliable configuration is setting the input to a non-aggregated input at 32bit 44.1KHz such as the built-in input.
You can check this setting in the Audio MIDI Setup application on macOS (found on your Utilities folder inside the Applicationsfolder of your Mac)
Also the Output should be a non-aggregated one set also to 32bit 44.1KHz
See Music is available on iPhone, iPad and macOS (See Music Pro in macOS)
Now that you know how to sync one statement of the form, syncing multiple ones is fairly simple.
Remember when we sync the last marker to the end of the form (1st time through)? Well, this time we will sync that last marker to the end of the last occurrence of the form in the audio track.
But first we need to know how many times the form is played in the audio track.
In the audio version I have of DOXY the form is played 9 times: Head-In • 3x’s Trumpet • 2x’s Sax • 2x’s Piano • Head-Out
So the first step is to set the number of repetitions in the Repeat Box to 9
The last marker will be link to measure 145 beat 1
Remember you can enable the “#” button to view all the measures numbers in the multi-staff panel. So the first measure will now show: 1,17,33,49,65,81,97,113,129
Set the initial marker to the beginning of the song as we did before
Now let’s zoom in to the right and find the spot where measure 145 beat 1 is in the audio track. Select the last marker, play from a few seconds before the end and hit the Update Sync button at the downbeat of measure 145
Adding the last marker on in Audio-Sync Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
All the beats between the first and last have been re-calculated. The audio is sync to the progression already but there might be a few places where it is off (unless the tempo in the performance was perfectly steady)
I would expect the audio getting of sync in some places. To fix this the best way is to make some of the calculated markers into keyframes. By doing this all the other markers will be re-calculated again and the sync will be much more accurate.
There’s no one way to do this, sometimes the audio sync will be perfect with only 2 keyframes. I will show you how I would do it in this example so as to show you the options you have.
So, I played the audio with the sync and in the 3rd chorus the audio is already one beat ahead of the syncing.
I’ve found the most effective way to solve this is to add keyframes to some first measures of the form. That’s where numbering the measures comes handy.
So the first measure has the following numbers: 1,17,33,49,65,81,97,113,129 meaning each chorus of the song starts on the first beat of those measures.
In the following video I demonstrate how I add a few keyframes to the first beats of some occurrences of the form.
Adding Extra Keyframes in Audio-Sync Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
The audio track is now synced to the progression. You can play the entire song or use the sync feature between chords in the progression and the audio to listen to what the musicians played over a certain part in the progression.
Doxy (Sonny Rollings) Audio-Sync using Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
In order to sync a progression in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro to an audio track you need two things:
The Harmonic Progression entered in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro
The audio track you want to sync must be in your iTunes Library locally (no Cloud items and no Apple Music tracks are allowed)
For this tutorial I will sync the song “DOXY” by Sonny Rollings
First I need to create or load the harmonic progression in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro. Luckily I have my 1000+ Jazz Standards Bundle which comes loaded with all the best-known standards, so I will not have to analyze nor create the progression for Doxy.
Just in case you want to check this bundle out I am adding a link to the download. Every jazz standard in this collection was carefully analyzed and entered into Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro. By the way, it also includes all three volumes of “The Jazz Standards Progressions Book” in PDF (you can get the PDF for C, Bb or Eb instruments) which is a great addition to the bundle
OK, DOXY… I have it loaded in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro
Now I need the audio track
Go to iTunes and search for DOXY by Sonny Rollings. Since I do not own the track so I will ask iTunes to show it to me in the iTunes Store (I could have used some other version of the song already in my library but I wanted to explain the entire process including the purchase of the track in the iTunes Store to be more thorough in this tutorial)
Once in the iTunes Store I can purchase the track and download it. Now it’ll be in my iTunes Library
Now go back to Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro and click on the Audio-Sync button in the top menu to launch the Audio-Sync window and then on the NEW button
The Audio-Sync window will populate with:
A popup button with the number 1 (because is the first audio track I am syncing with the progression Doxy in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro)
A Drag & Drop Area and some other empty fields.
And (this is very important) a button that says: “Rebuild iTunes Data” Click on“Rebuild iTunes Data”, Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro was already running when I purchased Doxy so it does not know that now it is part of my library. This button will let the app refresh the list of songs it thinks I have in my library.
Drag & Drop the track from iTunes into the gray area that says “DRAG & DROP AUDIO FILES FROM YOUR ITUNES LIBRARY HERE”
Drag & Drop from iTunes into Audio-Sync in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
An optional step before you sync the audio would be to save a link to the track in the iTunes Store. This is only useful if you want to share the audio sync with others.
To embed the link to the iTunes Store just go to iTunes and click on the Copy Link item under the Share Song menu for the song (Doxy in our example)
Then go to Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro and paste it in the text box next to the album’s picture and press ENTER.
Syncing the Audio
The syncing process is fairly simple once you understand the concept behind it.
Now that the track is linked to the progression we just need to worry about the lower section of the audio-sync window. Here’s were all the syncing is done.
The top waveform shows the entire track, and the one below it is the zoomed view of the track determined by where the zoom is set in the top.
You can drag the yellow markers on the top waveform to zoom in and out
How does the audio-sync work?
You have a progression with a number of measures. In our example, Doxy is a 16 measures long form.
To view the bar numbers in the progression enable the “#” button
I will explain the syncing in two examples, one with the form played once, and another with the entire track (the form will play several times)
Example 1: Syncing the Form only once
Doxy is 16 measures long.
Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro has already created all the sync markers for every beat in the song. There are two types of sync markers: Key-frames and Calculated-frames
Every songs has one initial key-frame and one final key-frame. If you look at the table of frames you will see only the first and last are checked (meaning they are keyframes) and disabled (you cannot make them “calculated frames”)
As you can see the first keyframe is at the beginning of the track (0 secs) and it’s been assigned bar 1 beat 1
The last keyframe is at the end of the track (292.8040 secs) and it’s been assigned bar 17 beat 1 (because Doxy is a 16 bar-long form)
These two markers are shown in the waveform as red markers. All the rest of the beats are calculated based on these two markers (and shown as thin blue lines)
This new feature is great for developing a better understanding of tonal harmony while listening to real-life examples from the masters performed by great musicians.
Since Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro understands harmonic progressions in many styles (from Traditional Harmony to Jazz and everything in between) the possibilities are certainly endless. You can study the harmony of Beethoven, Queen and Charlie Parker all within the same app.
Here are three examples of the audio-sync feature in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro 7.5
Queen - Somebody to Love (Harmonic Analysis) using Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro Audio-Sync - YouTube
Mozart Symphony No.35 (Audio Sync w/Harmonic Analysis) Music Theory Video - YouTube
Donna Lee Charlie Parker (Audio-Sync w/Harmonic Analysis) Music Theory Video - YouTube
It is important to know that Mapping Tonal Harmony does not produce the harmonic progression automatically from the audio track (as of 2019 there’s no software that can do that)
The harmonic progression must already exist in your catalogue and the audio track must be locally present on your computer’s hard-drive and accessible from within iTunes (no iCloud nor Apple Music tracks). You must own the track, either because you’ve purchased it on the iTunes Store or you’ve created it yourself.
In the example above the first two tracks are OK. They are in the iTunes Library and exist locally on the user’s hard-drive.
The next two tracks are BAD. They are both in the cloud (and also the first one is a video)
Checking for Progressions w/Audio-Sync in your catalogue
The new version comes preloaded with some audio-synched progressions to get you started. To view the audio-synched progressions in your catalogue just enable the “Only w/Audio-Sync” button
Load and Play
(Including a step-by-step tutorial when you don’t have the track in your iTunes library)
To load a progression just click on its card in the catalogue. The progression will still be a regular progression and you can use the play-along feature to practice the song with the piano.bass.drums accompaniment, change tempos, style, voicing-rules, etc.
The only difference is that now the Audio-Sync button will be enabled. Click on it
The audio-sync menu will appear, but no track will be selected. Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro can sync the same progressions with multiple differentrecordings. In the example we loaded Blues for Alice and there are hundreds of version of the song in iTunes. You can sync as many audio tracks to the same progression as you want.
So click on the Popup Button to reveal all the audio tracks that have been synched to the progression. In our example there’s only 1 Blues For Alice. Select it.
Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro will check to see if the Audio Track is present in your iTunes Library. In our example I had purchased that exact same track but never downloaded it. MTH will let me know the track is in the Cloud. Click OK so Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro can open the track in iTunes.
iTunes will automatically show you the track. Just click on the Cloud button to download the track locally to your library.
Once the track has downloaded you can go back to Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro and click on the RETRY LINKING ITUNES TRACK button
Now the song will stay linked to the progression as long as you keep the audio track local in your iTunes Library. Mapping Tonal Harmony will also save the track you’ve chosen as the default so next time you open Blues for Alice the audio-sync will be ready to play.
You play the audio track with the Play button in the Audio-Sync panel
Cool things you can do in Audio-Sync
Pre-roll : Some audio-syncs start playing before the progression starts (for example when the introduction for a song is included). Other audio-syncs might start in the middle of the audio track to show a specific harmonic device used by the composer.
So Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro will wait until after the pre-roll has been played to start the sync with the progression.
In Blues for Alice we allow the intro to be played as a pre-roll for the track
Audio-Sync Pre-roll in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
Form Repetitions: When syncing with repeating forms, such in pop tunes and jazz standards (and some classical pieces with repeats), the app will just need a single statement of the harmonic progression and will loop while the audio track keeps playing. The track will stop once the form has repeated the amount of times allotted.
In Blues for Alice we synced the audio track to 4 repetitions of the form so as to fit the head and the sax solo by Charlie Parker (he improvises there times over the form)
Audio-Sync Form Repetitions in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
Progression-To-Audio Linking: A cool feature in audio-sync is that every function in your progression is synced to the audio track’s timeline.
For example, in Blues for Alice the 2nd measure in the form is an Em7. Since we have repeated the form 4 times this same Em7 will occur in measures 2, 14, 26 & 38. (to view bar numbers enable the “#” button)
By clicking repeatedly on the Em7 in the 2nd measure the audio will cycle through all the occurrences of that Em7 in the audio. So it will go to measure 2 then 14 then 26 then 38 and back to 2 and so on…
Now you can play the audio track from that measure as many times as you want. So let’s use it to compare the jazz lines that Charlie Parker played over that ii7/vi V7/vi (Em7 A7) during his solo.
Progression-To-Audio linking in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro - YouTube
This is a great feature to transcribe and analyze solos, and to see how the same harmonic progression is treated differently among form repetitions.
NEXT: How to sync progressions to audio tracks in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro
I’ve been asked many times “Why do I need to learn and practice scales?” or “Why do I need to understand chords-scales and tonal harmony?”
Some other people complain about the chord-scale theory, saying that they don’t want to play scales, meaning they wish to play in the jazz vocabulary, licks, motives, playing rhythmically or even playing by ear. Non of these contradict the use of the chord scale information. It doesn’t even contradict playing “out”! It merely informs the ear and clarifies how certain tones will work over a chord. The chord-scale information shows the collection of chord-tones and tensions in between them in the key of the moment. That’s it. What you do with that information is up to you. Whether you want to play inside the key with this notes, or “rub” against the chord changes, will depend on your artistic choice, in the moment.
In a harmonic progression, we usually find chord-scales that are the same collection of notes, from different starting points. Let’s examine an example:
IImin7 (Dorian) – V7 (Mixolydian) – Imaj7 (Ionian) in the key of C:They are the same seven notes! It’s just the c major scale using different notes as starting points. So what’s the difference? The difference is which notes are chord-tones or tensions over each chord. They will have a different sound and different tendencies over each chord.
The main idea I’d like to convey in this post it that we don’t need to play all the notes in a scale nor do we need to play scale-wise. Having the chord-scale helps us understand which notes work tonally over a chord. For instance in this simple IImin7-V7-Imaj7 progression we use notes inside the chord scales:Another approach is finding just a couple of notes that are common to several chord-scales and using them as a motive across a chord progression. Here’s an example of a two-note motive across several chords:Here’s another important benefit from understating the chord-scales in a progression: We can simply stay faithful to any musical idea by keeping it’s rhythm and contour and just adapting the notes according to each chord-scale:Let’s see two more examples of using just a few notes out of the scale to create an iconic phrase in the jazz language. Every note in this phrase belongs to the altered scale, but not all the notes in the scale are used:If we take all of this a step further, we can find upper structures inside a scale like upper structure triads or other structures. For instance we can find a minor pentatonic scale inside an altered scale:Now that we identified C minor pentatonic inside A altered, we can use as an upper structure. Here you can see C minor Pent over A7alt in the first measure:There is so much to say about this topic that it could be an entire book by itself, but I will close this post with one more concept: Knowing the chord-scale gives us the target notes for any kind of chromatic or diatonic approach and passing tones:I hope this helps clarify the value of understanding tonal harmony, harmonic functions and chord-scale information. A partial understanding of these concepts might lead to believe that we are supposed to play only the notes in the chord scale, all the notes in the chord scale, or playing scale-wise. Nothing further from the truth. Harmonic functions and chord-scale information provide us the building blocks to create melodies, riffs, motives, etc. They are just starting point, a trampoline for our creativity.
I’ve been fascinated by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn compositions since the first time I heard an Ellington album, about thirty years ago. Since then I greatly enjoyed their rich harmonies, rhythmic vocabulary and melodies that seem to be a perfect balance of sophisticated ideas with a practical, to-the point nature.
The analysis of many Ellington and Strayhorn tunes challenged some of my beliefs as they stretch the boundaries of tonal harmony. However I found most of these exuberant harmonic progressions seem to have something in common. Many times these chords, that at first sight seemed not to have a place in the collection of traditional harmonic functions, are border line tonal. They might not be in the realm of commonly used harmonic functions such as secondary dominants, sub V’s or borrowing from minor, but they are very close to them in the circle of fifths. Other times a chord is not exactly a diatonic chord in the key of the moment but they just have one or two chord tones displaced. Obviously voce leading played an important role in the choices made by the composers. For instance, on the second page bar 4, this bVIImaj7 function is paired with an Ionian chord-scale.
As I said earlier the analysis of these masters’ works challenged some of my convictions and forced the mDecks team to re-examine multiple harmonic functions in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro. In most cases we ended up making some of the boundaries between tonal and non tonal harmony more flexible. We added options to the harmonic landscape in the app and made a wider range of options in the chord/chord-scale pairings. This enriched our knowledge, the app’s functionality and it’s ability to represent tonal harmony in a coherent, visual landscape that allowed all of us to gain better understanding of the sounds we so love.
Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro has the capability to register all the chords in a song and link them with arrows on the map. Check out this crazy picture of Lush Life on the map:
Here’s Lush Life with full harmonic analysis, chord-scales and arrows & brackets analysis.