Music and Mobile Collide in Piano Invention, a Canadian App That Transforms How You Make Music

There’s no question that most people are into at least one genre of music.

In fact, 80% of mobile users choose music downloads over other rewards when asked, according to Asif Khan, Founder of the Location-Based Marketing Association. As art and mobile collide as Toronto’s Plastic Mobile recently showed at an event that spurred the latter statistic, music and mobile are further colliding.

Shaun Elder, a consultant to Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, has built an app called Piano Invention utilizing the iPhone and iPad’s gesture technology. It is powered by Art Jam, built by an entertainment software technology startup based at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone known as Moonrider. The tool allows you to quickly and easily create immersive experiences for tablets, mobile, and other devices.

Shaun Elder and Pablo Joseph have been using technology to demystify music creation since 2005. Shaun has developed many music creation software prototypes, and Pablo has given dozens of workshops in music creation. That was how they teamed up to build Piano Invention starting in June 2011.

They were further inspired by the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould who according to the creators thought this day would come over 40 years ago. Gould’s 80th birthday was posthumously celebrated via concert over the weekend at his alma-mater. Elder says, “we’re using today’s mobile technology to  realize his vision and engage a whole new generation.”

Gould said in a 1969 CBC interview, “I think we’re going to make kits, and I think we’re going to send out these kits to listeners, perhaps to viewers also, as videotape cartridge gets into the act, as I think it will, and we’re going to say, do it yourself. Take the assembled components and make of those components something that you genuinely appreciate.”



Users will be able to play and create music by tapping and swiping objects in an engaging illustration. The recording tool allows them to build up pieces of music in layers. The free download comes with two songs from classical music legends Beethoven and Bach with more available via purchase. The app can be downloaded here.

Students of The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program have already tested out the app.

“The app encourages you to play with sound and again an awareness of different kinds of musical resources,” says Jennifer Snow, Chief Academic Officer of the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program. “There’s a puzzle-like quality that makes you want to find the connections between the elements. And the inclusion of sheet music bridges the app to traditional teaching practice.”

Piano Invention is already experiencing success internationally as the largest private classical station in the world, ClassicFM, has called the app superb. The United Kingdom based station asked listeners to send in pieces created on the apps. Elder says that Gould’s vision is happening- listeners becoming creators and even having a broadcaster get in on the act.

Björk’s Biophilia, the world’s first album as an app, which I posted about here, was critically acclaimed and reached number one on the US Dance/Electronic albums list.