This is an update to a previous post on the Suggester app.
Suggester is a chord progression tool. It is helpful if you are composing and want to generate some ideas. The app does one thing very well. That is to help you find chords that are in a scale…or a scale that goes with chords that you have chosen.
You can choose to hear your chord progression in one of three instruments: vibraphone, piano, or guitar. Originally there were nine scales to choose a from to make your chord progression. There are now fourteen different scales to choose from including Prometheus Scales from the mystic chord.*****
If you just want to hear the scale that you’ve chosen, you just tap the top bar. Once you have your chosen progression, you can listen to it, choose a tempo for it and also export it. Happily, looping has been added to this version of Suggester. I tend to play against a chord set to help generate ideas and this is very helpful to me.
However, exporting is still not very great. The text export isn’t very useful. You can send someone a list of your chord choices and that’s it. They are going to have to input those into whatever they are using, even if they also have Suggester. I really wish that you could send them in the “suggester format” so that the person you were collaborating with could open them directly in the suggester App. Also helpful would be the ability to sync your progressions through iCloud or Dropbox. As it is now, if you want the progression on both devices, you’ll be inputting that manually on both. It would also be really great if you could pull the MIDI export into another program on your iDevice but that is not currently possible that I have found. The MIDI export is good for pulling the chord progression into your DAW or notation software and I do use this but it’s more of a basic reminder of my original idea than something that I actually use in the piece.
Here is a sample of a G Lydian Chord progression MIDI export pulled into Logic Pro.
You can save only one of your progressions unless you upgrade from the free version. You’ll also need to do that to be able to export. Other features that are not yet available, choosing the chord voicing, the inversion of the chord and being able to alter the notes of the chord. The alter button that you see next to the chords in the progression will only let you alter the whole chord. Say you picked Am, you could select alter and then choose a different A chord instead. This doesn’t bother me too much as the UI could probably get pretty cluttered and you can always adjust this later in the program that you are using to compose with.
It is now possible to choose a different bass note for your chord.
And also possible to edit your progression without deleting anything. You can drag and drop the chords into a different order in edit mode. One thing to note, you have to unlock “sharp” scales if you want to work with double sharps & double flats. Even when you unlock this, the chords can have strange spellings. Like an A major chord spelled a, d-flat, e.
One of the interesting and fun things about this app is the ability to start with the chords first and then have the app match those to a scale.
You are given an idea of how good the match is by percentages listed. Pretty cool. You can also transpose and rematch something that you’ve done. This is when it gets a little weird. It keeps the same exact chord and just respells them for the new key except they are sometimes spelled awkwardly and not labeled correctly. The f# chord from G Lydian to G major is still going to be a vii chord. In G lydian, it is correctly listed as a vii chord but in G major, it is only listed as an f# chord. It is still a vii chord but altered, minor rather than diminished as it would be in G major.
If I choose to transpose, I would expect that I would get the exact same chord progression numerals but in the new key. This however, is not the case. Instead of a I chord being a D Major chord if we move to D, It’s still a G major chord but listed as a IV instead of a I. This type of transposition could be helpful but I would prefer to have both options.
Despite some of the shortcomings of the Suggester app. I do like the app and would recommend it. It is quite helpful and it can be interesting to listen to the chord possibilities that you may not have considered before. There have been improvements since the last version that I reviewed and the developer seems responsive to requests.
The current version of Suggester is 1.9.9. It is a plus app and is available for free on iTunes. You will need to pay $4.99 to unlock the export and multiple progressions. The developer for Suggester is Mathieu Routier.
****Mystic chord: What a great name for what turns out to be a hexatonic scale that has a leading tone to the fifth but no fifth. This is now on my list of things to learn more about. Guess I’ll be listening to more Scriabin soon. If you want to listen to something based on that chord and scale, this is some music to go with a collection of essays titled Alexander Scriabin’s Mystic Chord as a Puppet of Heinrich von Kleist.