Accurate Tuner demoed on Nokia Lumia 800
“If a lute player has lived eighty years, he has surely spent sixty years tuning.”
Johann Mattheson, German composer, ca. 1720
The ability toÂ tuneÂ a musical instrument – a musical ear – isÂ still a fundamental skill for any musician. But tuning by ear is hard, takes time and the result is rarely perfect.Â Some instruments are a true challenge to get perfectly inÂ tune. It may surprise you, but even a guitar belongs among these hard to tune instruments, as the major third between G and B (3rd and 2nd strings) has to be in fact slightly out of tune to be tuned properly.
The recent explosion of electronic pitch tuners has solved this issue for many musicians.Â But these tools cost money andÂ people don’t have them always inÂ their pockets.Â The smartphones come to help here. The computing power of these small beasts is good enough for quite advanced DSP processing and tunersÂ can be realized in software.
Today, there are hundreds of pitch tuning apps on all smartphone platforms and even the youngest platform – Windows Phone – already enjoys dozens of tuners in the Marketplace. But there is a small ugly secret I am going to share with you: 95 % of these apps are unusable. It is trueÂ for all platforms. For example, almost all iOS tuners are beautiful, with gorgeous and handy UI, but onlyÂ about 1 outÂ of 20 of them has the right mix of precision, speed and other features to be usable and reliable enough in practice.