The Coldplay Piano Song Book for iPad

photo-3-131x175I’m not a big consumer of mobile apps – especially not iPad apps, as I don’t have an iPad. But when I heard about the Coldplay Piano Song Book for iPad I couldn’t resist pinching my girlfriend’s tablet and trying it out. It’s not a new app, but it’s just been updated to version 2.0, with some new interactive features and a new marketing push.

The Coldplay Piano Song Book for iPad

As the name suggests, the app contains solo piano arrangements of 15 of Coldplay’s biggest hits, along with guitar chords and lyrics. You can start by listening to a playback of how each song goes – a little blue line follows your position in the score, karaoke-style. Then, when you’re ready, simply turn the iPad down and play along on your own keyboard.

Loops and annotations
photo-5-131x175That’s pretty much all there is to it, bar the aforementioned interactive features, which allow you to loop sections, add annotations to the score and activate a metronome. Five of the songs also offer backing tracks with strings and drums to fill out the sound. The iPad’s speakers being what they are, however, these will probably get rather drowned out if you’re playing on a real piano.

The arrangements are clearly a professional job. They capture the feel of the originals very nicely, without demanding virtuoso keyboard skills – as a humble Grade 2 pianist I had no difficulty getting up to speed. Admittedly this may owe as much to Chris Martin’s own unfussy compositional style as to the arranger.

I did, however, run into a few disappointments with the app. First, the song list predates Mylo Xyloto, so if you want to play along with Paradise or Princess of China you’ll have to invest in a physical score.

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Resolution and screen size

Second, it’s glaringly apparent that the stave is rendered at what we might call iPad 2-resolution, even when viewed on a Retina iPad. Crisper, clearer notes would make the score much more attractive, and perhaps even a little easier to sight-read.

Lastly – unavoidably – the 9.7in iPad screen simply feels rather cramped, offering less than half the area of a regular page of manuscript. Even at the minimum zoom, many songs stretch across seven or eight pages. The app automatically “turns” these pages for you, so you’re not physically interrupted, but it can be hard to get a feel for the structure of a score, especially when – as often happens – repeating passages spill across page breaks.

At £5.49 the Coldplay Piano Song Book for iPad is a little steep for an impulse buy – and its appeal is clearly rather niche. But for those of us who do fall into the target market, there’s a good few hours of fun to be had bashing through the likes of Clocks, The Scientist, Trouble and the four-chord wonder that is Viva La Vida. And while it has its foibles, it’s around half the cost of a physical book of arrangements – so for all you iPad-owning, Coldplay-liking pianists out there, it’s a steal.

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