Chordhopper

Comments and questions about Chordhopper.
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Andi
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Chordhopper

Post by Andi » Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:05 am

:D Congratulations to your new game!
First of all it is nice to see the I IV and V chords introduced already in the first "level". That was something I really missed in Chordfall, where you had to distinguish a lot of strange chords which in my opinion are less relevant to everyday-music than the C-F-G progression.
A bit annoying in the beginning is, that there comes nothing new (I've replayed the game 10 times) . . . but I guess that's because of the "stay with these chords for 2 weeks until a new chord enters..." you mentioned in Phase 13.

:cry: BUT: Why did you change the symbols in Intervalloader??? Couldn't you just invent new symbols for Chordhopper instead of "stealing" them from IL? I liked the old symbols much more!

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:42 am

I preferred the old symbols, myself-- i'm having a period of adjustment with the new ones (they're not affecting my gameplay; I just miss the old ones). It was necessary to change them, though, once I learned how the icons could be helpful in learning the solfege names... say them out loud and you'll see what I mean. The reason the IL icons show up so early in the Chordhopper game is that I'm still fond of them and wanted to see them again!

I had to strike a balance between the 2-week rule and the fact that nobody in their right mind will want to play the game with only CEG for two weeks. The "superfly" game element means that in order to advance, you will have had to play the same quantity of games that you would play if you were playing the recommended times-per-day for two weeks. I've already passed two Super Fly Challenges, myself.

I suspect that if there's going to be a significant revision in the near future it would be somehow integrating the single-tone sounds more properly into the game, instead of interrupting the flow to drop down that line of circles.

Andi
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Post by Andi » Sun Aug 27, 2006 1:31 pm

In the old IL-version the colors came out more clearly. Perhaps you could just change the background of the icons as you have done in chordhopper!

A good improvement is that chordhopper shows the right answer if you make an error. This would be a nice feature in IL too! If you don’t like the idea of correcting a pupil another possibility would be to play the same interval repeatedly until the correct answer is given!

The statistic-feature you have implemented in chordhopper is much better than the benchmark and would also be nice to have in the other two games.

By the way (off topic) why is a benchmark called benchmark? I don’t see any relation between a test and a bench? Who can explain this to me???

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:26 am

The "benchmarks" are the way they are because I initially resisted the idea of testing and evaluating-- I tried to push the "benchmark" idea as a reflection of current skill rather than a judgment of failure. I like the Chordhopper statistics because they don't just present information about percentage-correct; rather, it tracks the type of error and the nature of the confusion, so that progress can not merely be evaluated but analyzed over time.

The past few days I've been looking at Interval Loader to see if I can't introduce a similar statistics scheme and do away with benchmarking altogether for that game (the new pitch game will have some such scheme from the start)... I suspect it's a more valuable tool than the step-aside nature of the benchmark.

etaxier
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Post by etaxier » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:16 pm

Have you thought about implimenting a system to collect the statistics?

Beak
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Post by Beak » Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:26 pm

Chris,

Sometimes I wish that things were a bit more readily apparent. For example, after having played the game all the way up through one Super Fly Challenge I finally realized that the pictures in the drop-down circles corresponded with solfege syllables. Up to that point, I wasn't real sure what all of the pictures were (soap, for example). I'm still not sure about the mee-ror.

Also, it would be nice to know what chords and/or inversions we're hearing, so that some musical sense could be made of what we're learning (unless, of course, there's some reason behind the secrecy).

My kids like to see the frog hop...

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:34 pm

The soap does need to be replaced-- I showed the pictures to a random person (okay, my girlfriend) and, without my prompting, recognized each of the images as what they were intended to be... except for the "melting ice cube." So that's gotta be changed.

There is, unquestionably, a reason for the "secrecy". The chords are neither labeled, named, nor identified, nor will they be, as the target concepts are the sounds themselves-- the component pitches even more than the chords. Until the concept of each sound is formed, I would argue that names are not only useless, but potentially obstructive and even harmful to the process. I'd assert that "musical sense" occurs not from association of random language syllables, but when sounds become musically meaningful in reception or production (which is, I'd say, why pitch memory becomes so much more successful when combined with a known melody). So I don't expect to name the chords in Chordhopper because, until the chords are used in music, their names are as irrelevant and arbitrary as the little icons assigned in the game-- and since icons are self-evident, while names are linguistic symbols which must be explained and comprehended, the game uses icons.

In the same vein, if the pitch icons look like what they're meant to (darn that bar of soap!) then they won't need explanation, because at some point each player will suddenly realize that they've learned the solfege names. Or not. But probably.

I'm glad that your kids like to watch the frog hop--! I'm hoping to find other ways to dress up the animation, but I'm pleased to hear that this is a good start.

Andi
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Post by Andi » Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:53 am

Funny that you mention the soap. This one was immediately clear to me. But what the hell is that black thing representing the "A"?
And why do you use solfege syllables for the pictures while our final goal is gaining absolute pitch?
My children ( 6 & 8 ) enjoy playing Chordhopper, too. I’m curios who might be the first with AP in our family?
Last edited by Andi on Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:15 am

Do you mean the lock?

The solfege syllables are used as a kind of "fixed-do" training. Although I prefer not to use language names in the games, eventually you'll want to call the tones something (once the concepts are formed), and the pictures can subtly introduce names for the tones which will be useful in music theory.

Andi
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Post by Andi » Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:38 pm

Ahh, I wouldn't have associated LOck with LA!

Georg ( 8 ) who seems to be addicted to chordhopper - he passed the first superfly today - told me: "The flower (e.g. F-chord) is easy to recognize because it sounds a bit like the other flower (in the old IL)"!

lg
Andi

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:44 pm

Son of a gun! Good for him! Although the picture icons are essentially arbitrary, the colors are not-- orange icons are F-root chords. The flower, which was F/fourth in the old Interval Loader, is an F-root chord (IV chord) in Chordhopper.

The "Finding the Special Note" research makes me think that, of those people who have no history of musical experience (or training), the 5-10 age group will find the ETC training most effective.

Today I was musing on the fact that your concern is a common complaint ("Why aren't there any names?") and I was wondering why it wasn't obvious... when it hit me that it's essentially a symptom of why adults find it so hard to learn perfect pitch. Our minds naturally seek objects to be labeled. We want to be able to identify things and to name them as things. Yet the characteristic of chroma is not an object, and it cannot be identified as such; chroma can only be recognized indirectly, through its association with other objects. I've said before that the APB method exists to confound our natural adult process of attempting to identify chroma as an object; it hadn't occurred to me that this same process is why people continue to ask for note names in the program. And the goals of the method are why I will continue to avoid putting em in!

MattV
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Post by MattV » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:27 pm

Chris,

I understand why you don't want to use names in Chordhopper, but what would be wrong with using notes on a staff? Many people associate verbal labels with notes on a staff, but they don't have to do that, certainly not all the time. Talk to any advanced sight-reader and you will find that they do not think of verbal labels when they sight-read.

You could still use the color-coding for the background behind the staff.

edit: And when entering the notes of a chord one at a time, why not use a piano keyboard instead of the icons?

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:47 am

what would be wrong with using notes on a staff
1. Non-musical people would be confused by the staff's spatial configuration.
2. Icons have identity and character which black dots don't.

However, I have been considering adding a little picture of each chord anyway (just for the sake of being exposed to what it "really" looks like) plus the option to show or hide the actual name of the chord (e.g. "C major triad" or the like).
And when entering the notes of a chord one at a time, why not use a piano keyboard instead of the icons?
I don't (yet) have the ability to program MIDI input-- an unfortunate detriment at this point. Ideally the single notes would be sung into a microphone rather than played on an instrument. In the short term, you can use the computer keyboard, either as-is in its current "piano" layout or to assign whichever notes to whichever keys you feel best match your instrument.

MattV
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Post by MattV » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:01 pm

aruffo wrote:Non-musical people would be confused by the staff's spatial configuration.
My first thought is: Isn't the intent of the program to help people become more musical? But let me put that thought aside and speak only of my personal experience.

As a music student who played and sung by ear for years before studying staff notation, I feel that reading staff notation quickly is very difficult, and I need all the practice I can get. Therefore I can see no reason to master what amounts to a completely new and different system of notation, the icons, when I could be improving my facility with standard notation instead. What's frustrating is that I would probably enjoy Interval Loader and Chordhopper if not for the icons.

I agree with the avoidance of both staff notation and icons in Absolute Pitch Blaster, by the way. I like the way APB uses color alone to represent pitch classes. What's more, there are only seven colors in the APB system, and they are introduced to the player very gradually, making the task of remembering them so easy as to be unnoticeable. Yet I know that colors alone are not sufficient for the other two games.
aruffo wrote:Icons have identity and character which black dots don't.
I agree that the icons are more obviously distinct from each other than the corresponding staff notation, but I don't think this is necessarily an advantage. For example, the root-position C chord and the second-inversion F chord look similar in staff notation because they are, in fact, similar in certain ways. They share a note (middle C). They both include an interval of a third. They both use only "white key" notes. All these similarities are represented in the staff notation, but hidden (unrepresented) in the chord icons.

I also agree that the icons resemble real-world objects, unlike staff notation. (Is this what you mean by "character"?) Again, I don't think this is necessarily an advantage. The relative complexity of individual icons makes it difficult to perceive several of them together as a group, except to the extent that they do not resemble real-world objects (such as in the similar background colors or border shapes of certain chord symbols). With the icons, you need a new chord symbol for each combination of individual notes. With staff notation, by contrast, the symbol for a chord is the set of symbols for its notes, vertically aligned. I find beauty and economy in that.

Is the intent of the icons to encourage the player to think of chords as unique objects unto themselves? In my experience, people without absolute pitch already perceive chords (when heard) as units.
aruffo wrote:I don't (yet) have the ability to program MIDI input
What I meant to suggest was an on-screen piano keyboard to replace the row of icons at the top of the screen. Keys on the keyboard would light up as you hover over chord buttons, just as the note icons do now. In order to show voicings accurately (for example, to show that the G chord is voiced B-D-G), the on-screen keyboard would need to have more than just one octave.
aruffo wrote:Ideally the single notes would be sung into a microphone
I agree that singing back the notes of a chord is a very good exercise, and I do it regularly, but I think of it as complementing, rather than replacing, the exercise of finding the notes on a keyboard.

MattV
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Post by MattV » Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:11 pm

Chris,

I see now that some of my questions about Chordhopper will be answered if I catch up with the later entries in your research blog. I will do that over the next few days and post a follow-up.

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