Musically and technologically, Mike Gao is in another realm—one in which various historical traditions of melody and harmony fall into order on a sort of periodic table of musical elements. Lucky for the rest of us, he’s got a knack for translating this technicality into an interface that’s not only usable by anyone, but one that helps you learn intuitively.
Gao just released his Polyplayground app for iPad, which he told us about when it was in development. Rather than piano keys or some other arrangement of notes that may be baffling to a novice, Polyplayground employs a diagram in which the spaces are isomorphic, meaning that chord shapes are the same in different keys (unlike a piano). While that sounds pretty esoteric (it is), it’s actually a simplification on the traditional way we learn music theory.
If you’re thinking, “This is an app for advanced musicians,” then you’re right, but it’s also a colorful interface to mess around with, and in the end that’s what the majority of people look for in an app. The difference here is that, after sufficiently messing around with it, you just might have a deeper understanding of the music you hear and may even be able to make some yourself.
Mike Gao was nice enough to hook us up with three promo codes for Polyplayground. The first three people to include the word “Polyplayground” in the comments below will receive a code to download the app for free here. Just make sure to use a functioning email address when logging in to comment.