MusiClock makes theory worth listening to
If anyone in your family is struggling with learning music, now would be a good time to pick up the phone.
What do Mozart, Michael Jackson and Björk have in common? They were all child prodigies, of course.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us, mastering the mechanics of music takes a little more effort than simply being a born natural.
“Music theory is really hard and complex,” explains MusiClock creator Perttu Pölönen. “It actually is the most common reason why people quit. It’s pretty abstract for little children.”
Luckily, jamming and scale discovery tool MusiClock is on hand. Aimed at youngsters, but essentially for anyone who wants to learn how to construct music, the app encourages users to practice their soloing chops without any prior knowledge.
“We wanted to make a new way to teach and learn music,” Pölönen states. “It’s a completely fresh approach to how scales and chords work.
Analogue and digital sounds
Diluting music theory into an easy-to-grasp form via a unique onscreen wheel, users can start playing along in their favourite musical style in seconds.
“There are backing tracks built into the app, then we have scales that fit those backing tracks,” Pölönen states. “Browse your favourite genre, then choose the scales. It tells you the notes. You can start playing them and it will sound good right from the start.”
In keeping with the theme of young talent, Pölönen himself is also a prodigy of sorts. First coming up with the idea of MusiClock as a 15-year-old frustrated music student, he won a national innovation contest with the concept, before coming up trumps at an EU competition for young scientists in Prague in 2013.
On the back of such momentum, Pölönen then teamed up with his brother, Pietu, to establish MusiClock in 2014. The fruit of their labour took the stage last year and became the App Store’s number one paid music app in nine countries.
The next step sees the duo making music even more tangible for youngsters, with an all-wooden version of the concept.
“Basically there is a plate and a wheel that you can rotate,” Pölönen states. “It’s for music theory classes. Teachers have said that shapes and colours, stuff like this, make the learning process more effective for children getting started.”
The analogue embodiment of the app also digs a little deeper than its digital cousin.
“With the wooden version we have even more theory behind it,” Pölönen states. “You can solve scales, chords, intervals, modes, keys, accidentals. It’s more like an educational tool.”
Rest assured that the houselights aren’t going on for MusiClock’s innovations after this. Not by a long shot – the brothers have a series of encores in store. First up, those who favour a twinkle on the ivories rejoice that a unique piano scaler tool is also in the works. Giving an abundance of info just by rolling it over the keys, the concept was recently patented in the US.
This is a timely development for MusiClock. With a forthcoming funding round beckoning, the company is set to go global this year.
“The best thing to see in the future is that schools, music universities and conservatories use this method to actually educate their students,” Pölönen states. “That is one of our main goals.”
The international language of music also means that the market potential has no borders.
“Whenever somebody wants to jam with their friends in Africa, Asia or Australia – wherever – you can actually use these tools,” Pölönen observes. “Music is universal.”Text: James O’Sullivan