Launched today is Fourchords - a new app designed to make playing the guitar accessible, especially for when you want to play and sing songs you're not so familiar with. The main point of the app is to break down songs to their simplest level to make it easy to start playing songs you know, especially when you want to play and sing familiar hits with friends. This isn't some app for precise fingering, the motto behind FourChords is that close enough is good enough.
Co-founder and CEO Topi Löppönen gave a demonstration of the app to me, and says when creating the service he kept two things in mind. "There should be a lower barrier of starting to preform music, as many people could play music as possible. But the app should also connect people."
In practice the app is pretty cool, and I can see anyone with a guitar and the FourChords app becoming a hit at parties. When selecting a song it lets the guitarist know what basic chords are used in the song, as well as helping you with the fingering if you forget what that E chord looks like. Once the song gets started, the app essentially facilitates karaoke for each part of the song.
FourChords helps you not only with the timing of the chords, but also a tune of the singing melody, the lyrics, and even gives you markers of when to clap to the beat. That might sound complicated, but at a party a beginner guitarist could easily strum the basic chords behind "House of the Rising Sun," while singers can clap and even be able to sing all the words to that third verse that no one can remember.
Another fun feature for the day after a party (or for showing off you skills) is the recording feature that lets you save the audio or video to easily share with friends.
Each song in the FourChords catalogue has been professionally arranged by musicians to break down the chord structure to 2-5 basic open chords (hence the name FourChords). Songs are sold individually, or in packs -- like songs for children, rock and roll, vappu hits, juhannus, and so on. The packs will run €1.59 with individual songs at €0.79 cents with app store credit. The app is free to download and has been launched with 4 songs preloaded, with currently around 60 in the catalogue to choose from.
Löppönen sees this release as just the minimum viable product, but there are plenty of areas they can take the service. One idea is to bring on another level of gamification to help users master songs. Wedding bands have also expressed interest in the app, which I would never have thought of but really makes sense.
A helpful feature of Fourchords that Löppönen didn't stress, but is a huge pain point in my guitar journey is being able to sing while simultaneously playing the guitar. There's some disconnect in my brain where I have trouble doing both things at once, but having having an app with the lyrics and timing right there in front of you seems like a hugely useful feature to me.
You can download the app for free on iOS here.