September 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Music Kombat iPad App Pits Musicians Against Each Other

Music Kombat techcrunch sf disrupt Competition is a powerful force. Do you really think those weenies who spent 10,000 hours perfecting their Guitar Hero chops would have done it if it wasn’t a game? No way.

Applying similar logic to the art of playing real music, Music Kombat, one of the music hacks demonstrated at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon, lets two instrumentalists (or, we assume, singers) match wits by seeing who can sightread segments of a piece of popular music the best.

“Music Kombat is a music app that teaches and reinforces note recognition and sight reading,” explained the group’s spokesman, who then plucked out a few notes on a ukelele. (The group included Kenneth Ballenegger, Brandon Goldman, Joselle Ho, and Jonathan Nesvadba.) “Musicians hone their skills by competing with other players. I’ll be competing against my friend, Ken. I’m going to be Ziggy Stardust and he’s going to be Mrs. Robinson.”

Indeed, the game includes cartoonish avatars culled from the annals of popular music, which is a nice touch. To play, each player looks at notes on an oversized musical staff on their own iPad and tries to play each one in order. The iPad 2′s microphone picks up the sound and compares it against the notes.

“Notice that as we progress, I’m actually taking away his life, like it’s a fight simulator.”

The idea that kids and adults with a competitive streak might be able to learn to read music this way seems a bit off, until you see the interface, which I tried to capture in the photograph above. Unlike regular sheet music, which bombards you with the whole song at once, Music Kombat is gentle enough to present just a few oversized notes at a time.

Read about all of the music hacks from the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon.