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Capo for Mac gets a feature update, makes learning music even easier


A couple years ago I took an in-depth look at Capo, the music-learning app designed to reverse engineer music on your Mac, making music easier to hear, and therefore easier to learn to play. Capo has seen a major update since then to 3.0, bringing some big new features and enhancing the best of the previous version. Better still, it's cheaper, too, at US$29.99 on the Mac App Store.

Since I covered most of what Capo has to offer in my previous review (which you can read here), I'm going to jump straight into Capo's new and enhanced features.

Capo has enhanced its spectrogram feature (analyzing the audio in a track) to automatically detect chords that are played in a song. Furthermore, the chords are placed in chord boxes that show you how to play the them, with easy-to-read chord descriptions, and where the changes are in the song. You can also try different variations of chords from the box, just double-click a chord box to see a variety of different inversions.

Chord detection isn't flawless. I noticed that more subtle chords were often not detected, and chords were sometimes not placed coherently in the song. For example, at the start of a bar. This is all down to the spectrogram's analysis of the music. The detection accuracy will vary from song to song as some songs will be easier for the software to analyze than others.

Gallery: Capo 3 for Mac | 4 Photos

However, Capo is all about giving you a starting point to learn a song. The point is not to simply show you what to play, but to encourage you to actively listen to what is being played. And it does that very well. Chords can easily be added, where the software has missed them, as well as moved around to a more accurate position. If you can't figure out a chord that Capo has missed, you can select that area of the song and ask Capo to specifically detect it. Results will vary, but it's certainly worth a go.

Beat detection automatically detects the time signature and beats-per-minute of a song, and there's a metronome that can be turned on and off, with options for emphasis on the down beat, too. It works really well, though if there's an ethereal-sounding guitar drone at the start (or something similar), before the actual drums kick in, this can throw the metronome's click placement.

Capo also has a tab feature, where you can highlight areas of the spectrogram and Capo will transpose those areas into guitar tab. It's a clever idea, but requires a fair amount of work to do. And once more, your mileage will vary on the analysis of the audio through Capo's spectrogram.

One of the great features of Capo is its region looping. In version 3, multiple regions can now be named and snapped to the beat. Looping a region in time and with the click is easier than ever, making practicing a specific part of a song over and over really easy.

Of course, Capo's still got its ability to slow down or speed up a song without the pitch being affected, but you can also change the pitch if you desire. Really, Capo's mission is to give you as much listening control as possible over a song, enabling you to hear the music, so that you can develop and enhance your own listening skills to become a better musician.

If you're a beginner or intermediate musician, a music teacher or just someone that wants to learn to play the guitar, Capo is a good-looking, easy-to-use app that will give you a solid platform in learning to listen to and play music.

I still feel Capo hasn't quite found the sweet spot for its pricing, but at $20 cheaper than the previous version, Capo is priced better than ever as a tool to invest in to enhance your musical abilities.

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