Hookpad 2.7: Improved Recording Plus Note/Chord Preview Mode

Experiment Without Cluttering Up Your Song

Hookpad makes it easy to jot down new ideas, but sometimes you just want to experiment without cluttering up your song. Newly added Preview Mode is a long requested feature that allows you to turn off note input and play music using Hookpad engine using the band you’ve set up. When Preview is on, you’ll hear the notes and chords you play but they won’t be added to the staff.

The preview mode button has an eye icon and is in the right half of the controls bar

Record With Improved Latency and More Intuitive Experience

The previous incarnation of recording in Hookpad wasn’t great. We fixed it. Here is what’s better:

The Duration of Recorded Notes/Chords is Now Controlled By How Long You Hold Down The Key

Previously the duration of each recorded note was controlled by duration tool – every note would get the same duration – terrible. Now the duration is controlled by how long you hold down the key, just like playing an instrument. Much better.

Recording Now Starts Immediately After Hitting The Record Button

Record Mode was previously a toggle; you had to first click the Record button and then click play. While playing if you entered notes they would be added at the location of the scrubber playback. Now hitting the Record button starts the playback (with pickup) immediately so you can start recording immediately, as you expect!

Keyboard Shortcut ‘r’ Lets You Access Recording Quicker

Record now has it’s own keyboard shortcut. Hit ‘r’ to start recording.

Improved Latency Helps You Stay In Time

We’ve taken care to improve the latency especially when using a midi instrument (midi entry is much lower latency than keyboard entry) so its easier for you to stay in time.

Pro Tip: Use Wired Headphones or Speakers When Recording

Most bluetooth headphones and speakers have several hundred milliseconds of latency. This can really screw you up during recording. When recording, bust out a pair of wired headphones or speakers. You won’t regret it.

The Record Button Now Turns Red

Duh! It was blue before to be consistent with other UI controls in the “on” state. But that felt so wrong – the universal standard of red for record is back.

The record button in Hookpad now turns red during recording

Hookpad 2.6: Quick Preview For Chord Suggestions, 15 New Electronic Instruments, 2.5x More Responsive, and 20% Faster App Launch

Quick Preview For Magic Chord and Bass Collections

Magic Chord is one of Hookpad’s most beloved features – ask Hookpad for the best chord to use in any context and Hookpad shows you what other other famous songs have done. Now magic chord has a “quick preview” option which plays the suggested chord and neighboring chords in quick succession. The original full preview option with melody is still available.

A new “quick preview” option for magic chord plays the suggested chord and neighboring chords in quick succession.

2.5x More Responsive

Hookpad 2.6 includes many under-the-hood optimizations that make Hookpad more responsive. Our benchmarks show:

  • 3.1x faster drag-selection
  • 4.5x faster note adding
  • 2.6x faster note editing

You will still see small (< 500 ms) delays with operations that require full reflows of a complex score, but overall, we are quite happy with performance. Details of benchmarking are included at the end of this article.

20% Faster App Launch

With Hookpad 2.6, we shaved 20% from the gzipped app bundle, (765 KB now vs 945 KB before) so you get 20% faster app launches.

Menus Now Consistent With Native Apps

We changed a few menus to be more consistent with native apps.

  • Settings top-level menu moved to Hookpad → Settings
  • MIDI top-level menu moved to Hookpad → Midi Settings
  • Hookpad → About Hookpad now shows version info and has a link to the release notes.

Hookpad Player Now Correctly Lays Out Scores with Pickup Measures

We updated the Hookpad player to correctly layout scores with pickup measures

Hookpad player now correctly renders scores with pickup measures

15 New Electronic Instruments and Effects

We have been working hard on a new electronic instrument pack for Hookpad and are excited to release the following new instruments.

New Lead Instruments

  • Electric Piano (smart and legato)
  • Electric Piano Dark (smart and legato)
  • Dark Lead (smart and legato)

New Lead Synth FX

  • Drop 1-bar
  • Drop 2-bar
  • Rise 1-bar
  • Rise 2-bar
  • Noise

New Harmony Instruments / Rhythms

  • Electric Piano
  • Dark Piano
  • Syncopation Pad
  • Brassopad Offbeaat 1/8s
  • Supersaw Pad
  • Supersaw Pumping Pad
  • Metal guitar Rock 1/8s 2
  • Metal guitar Rock 1/8s 3
  • Metal guitar Backbeat 1/8s
  • Metal Guitar Gallops
  • Metal Guitar Gallops 2
  • Metal Guitar Open 1/16s
  • Metal Guitar Muted 1/16s

New Bass Instruments

  • Deep Winds
  • Dark Bass
  • Brassobasso
  • Acid Bass
  • Acid Pluck
  • Bowed String Bass Deep
  • Supersaw Bass
  • Alternating Thumb Bass

Hardware and Software Configuration For Performance Benchmarks

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013)
    • 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5
    • 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • macOS 10.14.6 (Mojave)
  • Browser: Chrome 76
  • Hookpad is loaded with Arcade Madness (a demo song) at global zoom of 50% and horizontal zoom of 58% to provide a challenging use case.
  • All comparisons use Chrome performance profiler for benchmarking. Hookpad 2.6 is compared to Hookpad 2.5
  • Absolute performance data is likely better than shown below because of overhead with the profiler in Chrome.

3.1x Faster Drag-Selection (12.5 FPS vs. 4 FPS)

To perform this test, I drag-selected a melody and chord region in Arcade Madness and recorded frames per second (FPS) in chrome profiler

4.5x Faster Note Adding (29 notes per second vs. 6.7 notes per second)

To perform this test I held down the “1” key for five seconds to enter notes in rapid succession. macOS has a “Key Repeat” setting in System Preferences that I set to “Fast” to push Hookpad as much as possible.

  • In Hookpad 2.6, 158 notes are processed in real time over five seconds while holding down the “1” key.
  • In Hookpad 2.5, 152 notes are entered, but it takes 22.6 seconds to process the 5-second key-press event: 5 seconds while holding the “1” key plus 17.6 seconds of processing / painting after releasing the “1” key

2.6x Faster Note Editing (100 ms vs. 260 ms)

To perform this test I selected a note and then shifted it by a scale degree with the up key.

Summary of Hookpad 2.6 Benefits

  • New quick preview option for magic chord suggestions
  • 15 new electronic instruments and effects
  • 2.5x more responsive
  • 20% faster app launch
  • Menus are more consistent with native apps

Hookpad 2.1 Brings Improvements to Exporting, Band Editing, Magic Chord, Bass Collections, and Support for Pickups

Improved Band Editing

The Band Editor Can Now Be Toggled In and Out

The Band Editor can now be toggled in and out of persistent view, making it easier to simultaneously tweak the band and the music, as shown below.

The Hookpad Band Editor can now be toggled in and out of persistent view
The Hookpad Band Editor can now be toggled in and out of persistent view

Show More Or Less of the Band Editor by Resizing

In addition, the Band Editor can now be vertically resized to show more or less content, as shown below.

Hookpad’s Band Editor can now be vertically resized
Hookpad’s Band Editor can now be vertically resized

Improved Volume and Octave Control

Finally, the volume and octave values of each track now show as their sliders are adjusted, as shown below

As the volume and octave sliders are adjusted, all volume and octave values are shown
As the volume and octave sliders are adjusted, all volume and octave values are shown

Improved Magic Chord and Magic Bass

Magic Chord received several improvements in the 2.1 release, summarized below:

  • Magic Chord now shows chord-use data, displaying examples of songs that use the suggested chord in the same context.
  • Magic Chord and Magic Bass choosers now have buttons for previous chord, next chord, audition, cancel and accept.
  • Magic Chord and Magic Bass choosers can now be controlled with keyboard shortcuts ←, →, ↑, and ↓
  • Magic Chord and Magic Bass choosers now drop down from the top and don’t cover the score.
  • Magic Bass button now shows bass color of selected chord

Hookpad’s Magic Chord lets you ask Hookpad what it thinks is the best chord to use in a given situation.  Hookpad scans > 10000 songs and shows you what other other artists have done in the same scenario.
Hookpad’s Magic Chord lets you ask Hookpad what it thinks is the best chord to use in a given situation. Hookpad scans > 10000 songs and shows you what other other artists have done in the same scenario.

Improved Exporting

Hookpad 2.1 has many improvements to exporting, summarized below.

  • Score export now hides empty staves
  • Score export now uses abbreviated instrument names on pages after the first page
    Score export now exports landscape.
  • MP3 export now adds exactly 1 beat of silence before export region to facilitate syncing in DAWs more effectively.
  • Midi export grids notes on prescribed beats rather than using the timing of Hookpad playback
  • Midi export tracks now have instrument names attached for clarity
  • Score export adds instrument names to staves.
  • Score export now only exports one consolidated melody per lead voice rather than one stave per lead instrument.
  • Score export shows guitar strums as slashes
  • Note lightup and scrubber are throttled back during mp3 export to improve performance
  • Project no longer plays while an mp3 is being recorded
  • Midi and mp3 export now name files the same name as the project name
  • Improvements to Lyrics

    The Lyrics Editor can now be resized and lyrics can be ignored using block-style /* */ comments.

    Hookpad’s Lyrics Editor can now be resized horizontally
    Hookpad’s Lyrics Editor can now be resized horizontally

    Improved Keyboard Shortcuts

    Keyboars shortcuts for Copy, Cut, Paste, Undo, Redo, and Select All operations now work with command ⌘ (macOS) and ctrl (Windows), e.g. ⌘C for copy, ⌘V for paste.

    Added Support For a Pickup Measure

    A pickup measure can now be added to Hookpad projects by selecting the measure staff and turning on the pickup measure, as shown below. When a pickup measure is added, subsequent lines of music are shifted to the right by one measure.

    Hookpad project with a pickup measure
    Hookpad project with a pickup measure

Introducing Hookpad 2: A Musical Sketchpad With Music Theory Built In

You can use Hookpad for free right in the browser (there is nothing to install). Go here to try Hookpad or click the getting started link at the bottom of the page.

Why Hookpad? The Problem With Music Composition Software

In existing software for writing music, beginners often don’t know where to start. It can be really intimidating. Even for experts, existing tools lack awareness of how music is structured.

Hookpad solves these issues by building in concepts from music theory to create a tool for writing songs that is more approachable for beginners and more useful for experienced songwriters.

Read Full Article

Pedal Harmony: (Hooktheory I excerpt)

We recently released an update to Hooktheory I: Music Theory for Songwriting. It mostly involved format changes and minor copy edits. However, a small section on pedal harmony was removed from the chapter on inverted chords. We thought we’d post this material to our blog for all to benefit from (and so that previous owners of the web version still have access to the content). Enjoy!

Learn more about Pedal Harmony

Easy Ear Training’s In-Depth Review of Hooktheory’s Books

Chris Sutton and our friends over at Easy Ear Training recently published in-depth reviews of Hooktheory’s two books, Hooktheory I and Hooktheory II, that teach music theory and songwriting concepts in a simple, intuitive way, without sheet music.

You can find the Hooktheory I review here and the follow up review of Hooktheory II here. Chris does a good job discussing the concepts that are covered and talking about the type of people that stand to benefit the most from these books:

Ear-Training-Logos-37h

He writes that “it is essential reading for any musician who wants to grasp music theory in an intuitive way, understand how songs are put together, and start recognising notes and chords by ear. Highly recommended!”

Thanks for the positive and in-depth reviews, Chris!

Incidentally, Hooktheory has some basic ear training exercises, but we highly recommend Easy Ear Training as well. They have a ton of great resources in this area.

Automatically Turn a Major Song Into Minor and Hear How it Sounds

Would a hit song written in a major key still be a hit song if it were written in a minor key instead? You can be the judge.

When an artist begins writing a new song, one of the first choices they must make is whether to write in a major or minor key. Songs in minor have a fundamentally different sound from songs in major.

Read about changing a song’s key

Hooktheory Featured on WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

Last week, Ryan was called in as the resident popular music theory expert to discuss the “songs of the summer” with Marty Moss-Coane. Also part of the discussion was Bonnie McKee, the songwriter behind eight #1 singles in the US, as well as Dan Deluca of the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Listen to the podcast and watch Ryan’s benind-the-scenes “TabCast”

Screenwriter John August’s Hooktheory Review

I recently stumbled across John August‘s podcast, ScriptNotes, and thought this was worth sharing. For those of you who don’t know who John is, he’s the screenwriter behind Charlie’s Angels, Go, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate factory (the one with Johnny Depp, not Gene Wilder) and bunch of stuff you’ve almost certainly heard of.

It turns out he’s a Hooktheory fan.

…And he wrote a really nice review that made me smile. Thanks John! (if you’re into screenwriting and movies check out his podcast).

Click Here To See An Excerpt From John’s Review →

I analyzed the chords to 1300 songs for patterns. This is what I found. (Part 3) Interactive Discovery

Last year, we discussed the first results of a long term effort to study the patterns found in the chords of popular songs. The reception that we got was incredibly positive, and we received a ton of great feedback.

The two most common questions we’ve gotten from people have been:

  1. “I really like the sound of chords X Y Z together. What other songs use this same progression?
  2. “After I’ve written a few chords that sound good together, I need help knowing what a good next chord might be. Can you show me what the next chord is likely to be given a starting set of chords?

Read about the amazing tool we built to answer these questions

A statistical study of inversions (slash chords) in popular music.

This article is Part 3 of a multipart series looking at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to some interesting questions about how popular music is structured. Click here to read Part 1.

In this article, we’ll continue our exploration into the patterns evident in the chords and melody of popular music. First we will look at the relative popularity of different inversions (e.g. a C/E chord vs. G/B, etc.) based on the frequency that they appear in chord progressions found in the Hooktheory Analysis Database. Then we will take a statistical look at how inversions are most often used. For example, if an inverted chord is found in a song, what can we say about the probability for what the next chord will be that comes after it? This will be compared with how the non-inverted counterpart of the chord is used (e.g. a C/E vs. a C).

Learn how inversions are used in popular music

In Defense of Popular Music: Why Reports of its Death are Greatly Exaggerated

The internet has been abuzz recently with reports of the deterioration in quality of music. Of particular note: a recent Spanish study which purportedly proved it, scientifically no less.

We want to set the record straight about pop. In this article we’ll respond to some of the common complaints that are being made about popular music and show that, in reality, things just aren’t all that bad.

Click Here To Find Out Why →

What do the chords of a patriotic classic have in common with some popular hits?

It’s the 4th of July, and, along with fireworks and flags, that means patriotic music (at least for our American readers). In that spirit, we will be analyzing a famous 4th of July tune and looking at how some of the chords it uses show up in modern music. The song we’ll be looking at is the beautiful Battle Hymm of The Republic.

Click Here To See What We Found →

Part 2: I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found.

This article is Part 2 of a multipart series looking at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to some interesting questions about how popular music is structured. Click here to read Part 1.

In Part 1, we used the database to learn what the most frequently occurring chords are in popular music and also started looking at the likelihood that different chords would come after one another in chord progressions.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll continue this exploration into the patterns evident in the chords and melody of popular music. First we’ll look at how popular music ends musical ideas and discuss a surprising difference between popular music and classical music. Then we’ll talk about the most popular chord progression used by songs in the database and discuss the ubiquity of this progression. Finally we will revisit the question of “which chords occur most frequently in popular music” and look at the reasons for why this is the case.

Click Here To Read About Our Findings →

I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found.

For many people, listening to music elicits such an emotional response that the idea of dredging it for statistics and structure can seem odd or even misguided. But knowing these patterns can give one a deeper more fundamental sense for how music works; for me this makes listening to music a lot more interesting. Of course, if you play an instrument or want to write songs, being aware of these things is obviously of great practical importance.

In this article, we’ll look at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to a few basic questions. First we’ll look at the relative popularity of different chords based on the frequency that they appear in the chord progressions of popular music. Then we’ll begin to look at the relationship that different chords have with one another. For example, if a chord is found in a song, what can we say about the probability for what the next chord will be that comes after it?

Click Here To Read About Our Findings