Image via The Verge

What you need to know

  • Fender Songs is a new app that allows users to play along to songs on Apple Music in real time.
  • The app lets you search for a song, and provides you with the lyrics and chords.
  • You can play at your own pace to get a feel for the song, or play along with the song in real time.

Fender has released a brand new app for iOS that lets users play along with songs on Apple Music.

As reported by The Verge:

Fender Songs is a new iOS app from the veteran guitar manufacturer which lets you learn the chords to millions of songs on guitar, piano, or the ukulele. The app is available to download now for iPhone with a rotating selection of chords available for free, and you can get access to its full library with a subscription costing $4.99 a month or $41.99 a year... "This app's really aimed at any guitar player who wants to learn how to play songs that they know," Fender's chief technology officer Ethan Kaplan told me in an interview. Fender's aim is to have a library of chords that's big enough so that you can reliably find a song that you're already interested in, rather than picking based on which song has the best user-submitted chords on one of the free services available around the web. Look up your favorite single, and you'll find that the app includes chords for the rest of the album for good measure.

"People are interested in learning songs that are familiar to them, not what they find by searching Google," Kaplan says.

The app allows user to search for music similar to a streaming service, except that when you find the song you're looking for, you'll get the chords and the lyrics as well. You can scroll through to learn the chords at your own pace, or you can play along with the song in real time to really get a feel for it.

By default, users will get to play along to an auto-generated drum and bass line, but if you have an Apple Music Subscription, you can play along to the actual recording.

The app will also allow users to record themselves playing using the front-facing camera. Add singing the lyrics for a full blown karaoke experience.

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Fender's app uses software to automatically transcribe music, but then Fender manually edits the results. This means that algorithms are doing all the leg work, but humans will curate the final product before it's ready for viewing.

Of course, all music is based around chords, so you can play along to songs that aren't guitar-centric, or even songs that feature no guitars at all.

The Verge reports that the chords on offer seem to be very straight forward, but this does mean that whilst you are learning the chord structure to songs, it won't necessarily teach you how to replicate what's being played on the record where there are more complicated guitar parts. The Verge also notes that whilst it can be used without an Apple Music subscription, they wouldn't recommend it:

If you're not playing along to the real song, then the app gives you the option of playing along to a metronome, an auto-generated drum track, or an auto-generated drum and bass track. Although these backing tracks are the right tempo, their rhythm is often completely wrong, to the extent that they can be distracting. Kaplan admitted that the backing tracks basically amount to a "glorified click track," rather than an actual backing track.

As previously noted, subscription to Fender Songs costs $4.99 a month, or $41.99 a year. There is however a rotation of songs which have their chords available for free.

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