Interview With Christian Hengst, TONALY App Developer
Christian studied electric bass at the Pop Academy in Enschede, Germany, while he developed websites for bands on the side. Out of love for design and code he invented the TONALY App in 2017 under the concept name “Ultimate Circle Of Fifths”. The current CEO of this one-man company had not actually planned this: out of one crazy idea he developed a digital circle of fifths that should look good and that would be able to rotate interactively. Then he noticed how ingenious this somewhat dusty system of circle of fifths actually was. From that point, the functions grew and when he didn’t want to keep the tool to himself anymore, he decided to share with the world as an app. Here at gigmit, we tested the songwriting app TONALY and found it to be an ideal tool for music creators, especially now, with inability to perform caused by corona.
gigmit: Hi Chris, how are you and how are you dealing with the COVID-19 shutdown?
Christian Hengst: I’m actually doing quite well despite the crisis. Since I work digitally, the whole thing has “only” shifted to my home office. What I miss is making music with other people – in the rehearsal room and not just online. But I still think it’s a chance to find new ways for musicians to work together and to create something. I hope that this will teach us something and that this will result in the process of creating music becoming much more flexible.
Who uses TONALY?
The app is for all musicians, whatever their instrument is; it’s for songwriters, it’s for producers – beginners as well as advanced users. Whether you are looking for chords or inspiration for songs, learning new scales, improving your skills on the instrument, or want to delve deeper into music theory. The app has a wide range of functions, and is intended as a tool that will help you when creating music.
I’ve briefly compared the app’s suggestions with two good songs of my own. I worked on the songs for a very long time, but your app already knew the solution…
As a musician, you are guided by your feelings, but I have experienced myself that you get to a point of frustration. You just can’t find that one missing chord in the song or the right melody or bass line. In that case, it’s super helpful to have a tool that immediately shows you which chords and scales are available. You don’t need to know any basics of music theory to be able to use the app, nor is it necessary to study it any further. The app, however, can help you acquire this theoretical knowledge – if you are interested. How I would have wished for such an app during my music studies!
You can even select ukulele or cello…
You can use the app while practicing any instrument. Practicing chord connections, playing solos over them etc. is not limited to a certain instrument. Nevertheless, the app integrates the most important string instruments in different tunings and of course the piano. The chords and scales are displayed on it.
Why is TONALY being downloaded by musicians right now?
I think that you should use the shutdown and isolation to learn something new or to get more involved with your hobbies. And apparently, I’m not alone in this. I can already see that there is a greater demand and that people are interested now that the time is there to do something for themselves and to develop their skills. These are the positive sides of this crisis. Everything has slowed down a bit and a lot of things that come with our normally hectic life have temporarily disappeared.
How do you imagine people using the app at home?
You can actually use the app completely independent of your location. Many users, who mainly use the songwriting section of the app, love the aspect of being able to quickly try out a few song ideas on the road e.g. on the train. Nevertheless, you are usually at home anyway when you practice or write songs. That’s why not much has changed despite the current situation. But now when the weather is getting better, you can use the app to have a great time alone! Go out and write a song while sitting in the sun or practice scales on the piano that’s integrated with the app.
Where can I get the songwriting app TONALY?
TONALY app is available for iOS in the Apple App Store.