Today I will write a review about an app that I recently purchased on my smartphone. It’s an app that I am quite excited about, especially as a musician and as a violin student. The app is called ‘Informusic‘ and it’s an all-in-one music history resource. The first time I encountered this app was a few weeks ago when someone posted a picture on Instagram about it. My attention was immediately drawn to it. It said the app provided you with biographical information of composers, along with audio fragments, sheet music and interactive timelines. I definitely had to check this app out. In general, I don’t buy a lot of apps, but this was worth a try.
When I downloaded the app a few days ago, unfortunately, a lot of things weren’t working (I wasn’t able to open the audio fragments and sheet music). I decided to write an e-mail about it to Informusic. Very soon I got an e-mail back from the founder and director of the app. He said that the technical problems were solved. Yes! I could finally try it out!
The first thing I noticed when I opened the app again, was that the list of composers had expanded. I thought that was great news, since I was scared that the app would have a limited amount of composers. The nice thing about it is that the list is going to keep growing. The app contains 36 composers at this moment, the first time I opened the app it was 19 (!). A panel of musicologists takes care of the historical information that is placed in the app. Before a new composer is placed in the app, an advisory board of PhD musicologists reviews the content. You can find out which exact people are involved on their site. I think it’s great that they are open and transparent about this because it makes the app reliable.
Yes, so how does the app look like? When you open the app you can click on either ‘timeline’ or ‘composers’. There’s also a search button if you want to look for a specific composer or work. When you click on a composer it opens the general history about that person. The historical information is on point, narrated in an interesting way, and it consists of all the basic and most important information you would want to know about a composer. However, don’t expect a detailed story, because that is not what the app is made for.
If you swipe to the right you get the timeline of the composer. I find the timeline very handy because it gives me the possibility to put pieces (that I’m playing) in context. You can also click on a year in the list and select additional information about that specific year. That puts things even more in context. With the additional information, you can choose from architecture, art, literature, medicine, music, politics, science, technology and war. For example, you can see that the year that Haydn met Mozart was the same year that the Montgolfier brothers invented the hot air balloon. Personally, I like knowing these kinds of facts.
When you swipe to the right again, you arrive at ‘musical works’, where you can find some audio fragments, including sheet music to read along and historical background about the pieces. This is not a function that I would necessarily use. Maybe it’s because it’s just a small selection of pieces that I’m not interested in at that moment, maybe it’s because I like to listen to other recordings of the piece, I don’t know yet. I do like the fact that the selected pieces contain additional information. Underneath the audio fragments is something that attracts my attention much more: a complete list of works. I find this very handy for myself, especially when I’m looking for new pieces for violin or chamber music. No complicated search terms on Google anymore, it’s all there in a few clicks with this app!
So, do I recommend this app? I think that if you would like to have an overview of all the important and basic information of composers, together with its context in history, it’s a great app for you. If you’re looking for detailed information (for your research or presentation) you might want to stick to books and other reliable internet sources.
Have you already tried this app? If so, let me know what you think about it!
Author: Nino Natroshvili
Violinist and student at the Utrecht Conservatory, the Netherlands.