Tag Archives: nota

Nota 1.2 adds Chords, Scales & Cover Flow

Nota 1.2 is finally out with tons of new features. The main focus of this update was to bring the most requested feature to Nota; chords and scales. You can now browse and play almost any type of chord or scale in any key. Chords can also be inverted. A simple piano is now available in full screen landscape mode with bigger keys that are easier to play and the sound engine has been revamped for better responsiveness across different iPhone models. The Reference section can now be browsed in cover flow mode when the device is in landscape mode making it easier to browse by symbols instead of names.

Nota 1.2 Changelog:

  • Chords and Scales
  • Landscape mode piano
  • Cover flow view of reference
  • Revamped audio engine for improved responsiveness
  • Minor revisions to the reference library
  • Spanish localization

Nota 1.0.1 is now available for download

An update to Nota is now available for download. This update primarily takes care of performance improvements in the iPhone 2G and 3G. Specifically in the piano section. As it turns out, decoding multiple MP3s at the same time is a big task in these two models. The iPhone does have a hardware decoder, but it can only do one audio at a time. Add any more files and the decoding is handled via software instead of hardware. So the audio is now IMA4 CAF and after much memory management voodoo I was able to get it a lot more responsive in the 2G. It is still not a smooth as the iPhone 3GS when rolling the finger through it. But then again, this is not meant for live playing. It’s just a reference tool. I’ve added other improvements as well. Read bellow for the changelog.

Nota 1.0.1 Changelog


  • The audio format was changed to improve playback performance on the iPhone 2G and 3G.
  • Memory management tweaks have also helped performance in these devices.
  • Playing a note repeatedly no longer cuts the audio of the previous note sound making it a lot smoother.


  • In the previous version, Accidentals and Notes where mixed in the possible answers. This would sometimes make the answer an obvious one. Therefore Accidentals are now grouped together in the answer. This means that if the correct answer is a Sharp or a Flat, then the choices given will be Sharps or Flats, excluding regular notes. Vice-versa, if the answer is a regular note, no Accidentals will be given as possible choices.
  • The High Score board now shows the percentage bar of the correct answers.
  • The Save Score window now shows up if a new High Score was made.
  • Corrected two G flat notes that were showing incorrectly as a G.


  • Added Alto and Tenor Clefs.
  • Fixed a typographical error.
  • Expanded the description of Tuplets and Triplets.
  • Corrected two G flat notes that were showing incorrectly as a G.

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The Design of Nota

Every final product has a design journey. Here is the design journey of Nota.

Why Nota?
The idea for making Nota, my first app, came from the fact that I have two kids(7 and 10) who are both taking piano lessons. We had these music flash cards to help them in the learn to read music process but of course we somehow lost them. When the kids inherited our old iPhones(deactivated) after we upgraded to 3GS I figured a music flash cards app for them would be perfect! I looked into it and realized the choices at the time were not that great. I could design a better one I thought. I knew this was a niche market app and would not be my Tweetie but, it was a simple idea, perfect for a side project getting done at nights and weekends. Little did I know it would evolve from flash cards to include a piano and a reference library and that I would find myself unemployed and dedicated to this new iPhone development venture more seriously. The design process took only two rounds and one final revision was made during development.

Initial Design Concepts: 
In the initial round of concepts, I explored the design treatments shown bellow but I settled on using the bamboo and dark glass as the official look and feel for the app. This design had the best positive feedback from the people I showed it to. In this early prototype, the Learn section was utilizing the iPhone’s scrolling interface to navigate the selections. This was later changed to a multi level table view which allows for better navigation when dealing with large amounts of content.

Nota Blue Stripes ConceptNota Parchment ConceptNota Eve ConceptNota Gray ConceptNota Bamboo Staff ConceptNota Bamboo Concept

Revised Concepts:
Once I settled on the bamboo concept, the next step was to apply that look and feel to all the sections of the app. Bellow are the designs for the Splash page, the Quiz page, the Staff page which never made it to the final app, the Piano page, the Learn page and a second level page for it. I also refined some of the elements in the interface like the arrows in the Piano section.

Nota Round 2 Splash ConceptNota Round 2 Quiz ConceptNota Round 2 Staff Concept

Nota Round 2 Piano ConceptNota Round 2 Reference Table ConceptNota Round 2 Reference Detail Concept

Final Design:
As development progressed, the design was tweaked and refined even more. The Quiz gained some playing feedback like number of correct or wrong answers, a start screen, a pause button, a high score etc. Looking back, I should have designed this before starting development to avoid pausing, rethinking and redesigning during development stage. The Learn section was renamed Reference and brightened up a bit since in the previous version it looked too dark and did not seem to belong with the other screens. Also, the icon for this section was changed to a book with a music symbol on the cover to make it look more like a library resource and less like music playing in iTunes.

Nota Final Design: Quiz StartNota Final Design: QuizNota Final Design: Quiz HighlightNota Final Design: PianoNota Final Design: ReferenceNota Final Design: Reference Detail

For the logo, I wanted to include the bamboo as well as a reference to music, weather that was piano keys or a musical symbol. I started with the piano but realized there were tons of icons like this already in the App Store. I then added the note above the but this made the design too complex so I removed the piano completely  leaving just the symbol with a bamboo border. I was really happy with the end result.

Nota Logo Concept 1Nota Logo Concept 2Nota Final Logo

Find out more about Nota at notaapp.com