Screw Music Theory, This Guy Claims the Best Way to Learn Music is by Using an App

He's made something called Meludia that aims to teach people by using emotional response, colours, and learning games.

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Aug 7 2014, 11:22am

A screenshot from Meludia

If you’ve ever embarked on the adventure that is learning how to read music, you’ll understand the process involves a lot of books, dusty piano teachers, and a fair bit of money spent to understand the minutiae of each note on the Hexatonic scale.

Up until now, the cheaper alternative had been to either (A) be born a genius or (B) jump on ultimate-guitar, read tabs, and maybe progress to being able to play the same three songs by Green Day, Oasis, and Radiohead. But those days could soon be long gone. A new music learning game called Meludia wants to make the music experience easier for beginners and experts in the field of music. How? It throws complicated squiggles and repeated renditions of “Für Elise” to the side and replaces them with an experience similar to synesthesia - featuring colours and evolving shapes.

Essentially, Meludia aims to teach people through emotional response rather than boring them with musical jargon. For example: one section involves guessing if a note is higher or lower on a scale - which is a simple way of learning the actual tones of notes - and another helps figure out what specific notes make up each chord. The tasks start easy - but they advance too. The top-tier levels employ obscure time signatures, help find out the discordant notes which are music’s out of touch cousins, and have, apparently, stumped even the most hardened musos.

I talked to Paul from Meludia about how people should learn through emotions and why the app aims to teach people from pro to poser a lesson about music.

Noisey: What made you want to set up Meludia?

Paul: Despite the fact that music is one of the rare universal traits of human societies throughout space and time, we have come to think of music as an innate gift that only a few people possess. Meludia aims at revealing that anyone can become a musician.

How did the Meludia story begin?

It really started 25 years ago with Vincent Chaintrier, Meludia’s founder, who is a music composer and teacher. Vincent has trained more than 3,000 musicians in his life.

Right. And how did it turn into a business then?

Four years ago, Bastien Sannac, a musician with a business background, received composition lessons from Vincent, and was amazed by the efficiency of Vincent’s method. Together, they decided to turn Vincent’s philosophy into an online game. Back in 2012 they created an alpha version of Meludia be tested by 300 people: not only friends and family, non-musicians, but also musicians and music teachers. A new version of Meludia was then released late 2013.

How does it work?

The process is simple: Listen, Recognise, and Repeat. It leverages our brain’s innate skills and makes learning easier. It also transforms our connection to music: you will enjoy listening to your favorite songs much more when you understand the theory behind them. But before going into theory, we address music practice by sensations and emotions. Like language, it’s much more natural to start listening and talking before reading and learning grammar.

Make sense. But how can you learn through emotion?

The real question is how can we possibly learn music without addressing emotion, pleasure and creativity?

But seriously...

Vincent found that music geniuses all had two things in common: accurate hearing of the primitive elements of music and a strong inner emotional vehicle. We have created a universal way to acquire those elements.

Right. But it’s not super easy to be a music genius, even while using the app.

Yes, we haven’t yet seen anyone succeed the hardest Meludia exercises, even professional musicians. Our highest levels help o empower their “musical brain” by unlocking their progress and creativity. All musicians know how much this behind-the-scenes work matters.

Who did Vincent learn from?

Vincent started with classical music, before moving to jazz. He worked with famous jazzmen like Kenny Barron, Michel Sardaby and Bernard Maury and studied arrangement with Bill Dobbins. During his whole life, he has studied the main music theory influencers, from Jean-Philippe Rameau, Hugo Riemann, Hermann Von Helmholtz, Erno Lendvaï, and Heinrich Schenker.

So where do you think the future of music and technology is heading?

We think that the next decade will consecrate a new musical area where the number of music creators will increase dramatically. This is what happened with video, photography and writing: democratisation via accessible production and publishing tools saw zillions of new content creators emerge. This is what will happen for music as well.

Right.

We can actually see the premises happening right now with the success of software like Garageband and platforms like Soundcloud. And we plan on playing a major part in the coming revolution by giving everyone the means to fulfill their creation.

But what do you think was missing before? What’s the secret ingredient that Meludia provides?

We place pleasure and creativity at the core of music learning. This makes a huge difference when you’re learning something for the first time. But we also change the order of the learning process. We do not start with score reading and solfeggio, even if it comes later. Instead, we promote composition and improvisation in the first weeks of practice. It is important that people start “playing with music” very soon in the learning process. So instead of learning abstract and theoretical notions at first, we prefer focusing on the sensory recognition of primary elements. This enables the musician to gain better and deeper understanding.

Thanks Paul!

Follow Dan on Twitter: @KeenDang

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