I was lucky enough to have come across Jon-Morten from TonApp As on Twitter last year and then discover the very cool iOS app he had developed called GuitarCapo+ (which you’ve no doubt seen me write about and make a video for). I’m a big fan of GuitarCapo+ so I was very excited when Jon-Morten agreed to participate in my Six Scary Questions article series. So, if you’re interested in seeing what makes TonApp As tick and potentially see what’s in store, read on.
If you’re a guitar lover, you may love the ending. I do. Ssshhh …
Six scary questions
- What made you decide to develop your own iOS guitar app?
It started out as a test project. I had to learn more about how to make user interaction on an iPad screen do interesting things. With passion for music and guitars I guess it just had to happen 🙂
Before this there were two owners of my company TonApp As—with one app named Find Start. Find Start is not about music at all, but navigation/GPS, and is still available on the App Store. Different paths made me continue alone with TonApp As focusing on GuitarCapo+ and some other projects, i.e. within web design.
- GuitarCapo+ is an amazing blend of guitar related tools (with features such as the chord library, song builder and of course capo). How do you decide what to include in the app as you develop it?
The basic idea behind GuitarCapo+ when it took form was finding a way to automatically transpose a chosen chord. Or any chord. By sampling/recording all the single notes of the guitar, I had the flexibility to put together any combination of those notes. Then things started to get interesting from my guitar player eyes—when filling in with a lot of chords. All movements of the capo re-calculate any selected chord as it would happen on a real guitar. I achieved this simply by thinking the same way as when playing the guitar.
GuitarCapo+ has grabbed quite a few fans over the last year. Many of these great people have written to me through social media or by e-mail with great feedback and suggestions for new features and improvements. The result has kind of made GuitarCapo+ become a living creature growing further on its own. Ideas I receive and like, I implement. The criteria is that I must see the use myself for any new features. Most suggestions have been of that kind. Examples are dynamic strum speed, custom chords and the way MIDI is implemented.
- You are very active in the social media landscape and clearly have no problems answering queries from current and/or potential users of your app. How important is user engagement to the success of GuitarCapo+?
I have been lucky to meet a lot of great people through social media—users, developers, bloggers, reviewers and anything in between. That is really inspiring and has been very important. One example is Doug Woods, the brilliant man behind thesoundtestroom.com. We ‘met’ on Twitter. He was interested in GuitarCapo+ and published a video demo on his YouTube channel of an earlier version. He suggested implementation of Audiobus and MIDI. Without those suggestions, GuitarCapo+ would not have been the app it is today. Another example of a suggestion was to divide the chord pads so that they could strum both up and down. User engagement is great! 🙂
- As a guitar player yourself, did you develop GuitarCapo+ with playability in mind or was the priority to make the app as versatile as possible instead?
As a guitar player I thought that an app could never compete with the real guitar by any means, so the focus was mainly on the chord-tool part in the beginning. Later, I have realized that it can (and should) be as versatile as possible—but not to ‘compete’ with a real guitar. For example, If for some reason you are not able to play the guitar anymore, the chord pads make it easier, at least to play on a basic level. Or if you are a guitar player and want to add other instruments to your music, you can use GuitarCapo+ with MIDI out to play i.e. piano, but by thinking as a guitarist. A keyboard player can play guitar sounds with a MIDI keyboard. Another option is to trigger guitar chords with a MIDI Pad controller in MIDI Pad Mode.
- As you mentioned, GuitarCapo+ is Audiobus and Inter-app Audio friendly. How important has that been to you as a developer?
Audiobus introduced me to a great community worth everything! It is really impressive how those guys have set a standard for music production on iOS devices. It should be installed on any iOS device 🙂
- As a musician yourself, why is the GuitarCapo+ MIDI-in support so important to you?
MIDI in is implemented based on several user requests and it seems like GuitarCapo+ is one of few (or the only one?) guitar apps supporting both MIDI in and out. For me personally I like using a MIDI keyboard to play bass in GuitaCapo+. Yes, there are two octaves bass in there too. Sampled from my Ibanez bass
Six not-so-scary questions
- What’s in the not-so-distant future for Tonapp As and its customers?
With a daytime job there is limited time to spend on TonApp As, but there are plans and activity. I have a list of minor adjustments to make and some plans on maybe introducing custom strum patterns in GuitarCapo+. Further, there are some plans on an new effect app. But don’t tell anyone! 😉
Oooh. Top secret potential new effect app. I won’t tell anybody if you don’t.
My huge thanks* to Jon-Morten from TonApp As for giving his time to answer my mundane questions. Make sure you check out his work (you can even start with the free version of GuitarCapo if you’re so inclined).