What is the Melody Triangle?

The Melody Triangle is a fun, easy to use app that lets you (and a clever bit of artificial intelligence) make your own music on your mobile phone!  It is also a research tool to help understand the relationship between mathematics and music.  You, (yes you!) can help this research simply by using the app to make music, and whenever you hear something that you like, press the ‘like’ button!

Where can I download it?

It is available from Google Play, click here:


What does it sound like?

Here is some sample audio made with the triangle:

How do I use it?

Just drag one of the round tokens from their holder on the top left of the screen into the triangle.  This will cause a melody to play, the position of the token of the triangle will determine the kind of melody that is played.  By pressing on a token’s home position, different instruments can be selected.  Additionally the register(pitch), notes-per-beat as well as the volume of the melody can be controlled. (Demo Video coming soon!!)

Screenshot of the Melody Triangle
Screenshot of the Melody Triangle

You can change the master tempo with the + and – buttons on the bottom left.  Additionally you can select between the diatonic, pentatonic and harmonic scales by pressing the scale button on the top right.  Save your favourite positions by pressing the ‘like’ button.

What do the different areas of the triangle mean?

The areas of the triangle corresponds to different degrees of ‘predictability’ of the output melodies.

  • At the top of the triangle the melodies are more repetitive and have fewer notes.  Right at the very very top of the triangle the melody is just a single repeated note.
  • The right half of the triangle generates melodies that are more predictable.  Right up along the right edge of the triangle the melodies are deterministic, repeating loops, of increasing lengths as we reach the bottom right.
  • The left side of the triangle leads to increasingly random melodies. The bottom left corner is equivalent to randomly choosing each note with a dice.

What happens when I press the ‘like’ button?

Your current settings are uploaded to servers at Queen Mary University of London, and assigned a unique ‘song code’. Your identity will remain anonymous and information will not be used for any other purpose. There is a ‘Hall of Fame’ of the most prolific users, as well as the most liked settings.  As ‘likes’ by users all over the world are collected, researchers will look for patterns and similarities in the data. We encourage you to press ‘like’ whenever you hear something that you enjoy; whenever you do, you are taking part in exciting research!

So I can hear other users’ songs?!

YES! By pressing the ‘cloud’ icon, you can either enter a ‘song code’ (popular songs can be found in the Hall of Fame), or you can go into ‘Radio Mode‘. In radio mode a randomly selected track is chosen out of all the uploaded songs by all users of the app worldwide, and it plays on your phone! You can then skip to the next song by pressing the ‘next’ button, or modify it yourself. Remember, whenever you hear a something that you like, please let us know by pressing the ‘like’ button!

Why does the app ask to know my location? what does location have to do with music?
We ask to use your current location so that we can make comparisions between the musical tastes of people in different countries. For instance, do people from South America like more complicated rhythms than Europeans? The app gives us a unique opportunity to get insights on cultural trends with relation to our research models.

How do I get to the top of the Hall of Fame?

Easy! Just make the best music you can and press the ‘like’ button! The more songs you submit, the greater the chance your song will make it to the top of the charts, and the more you will be helping scientific research! For a song to go up the chart of most popular songs, it must get many ‘likes’ from other users in Radio mode. You can try finding interesting patterns by varying the rhythm settings for the tokens (have you tried going to the offbeat?), you can try different musical scales. (pro tip: If you have a pattern you like, but would like to vary it just a little, tapping a token in the triangle shuffles the notes it outputs while keeping the same overall pattern.)

So what is this research all about?

The Melody Triangle is an output of the Information Dynamics of Music project (www.idyom.org). Information dynamics involves studying several different kinds of predictability in musical patterns, how we as human listeners might perceive these, and how they shape or affect the listening experience. For example, if the music is very easy to predict after a short period of listening, are we more likely to find it boring? Is there a link between difficulty in prediction and musical tension? This research has led to the development of the Melody Triangle interface, and we hope you find it both fun and informative!

Who is behind the Melody Triangle?

The Melody Triangle was developed by QApps and supported by impactQM.  It is based on research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the Centre for Digital Music(C4DM) at Queen Mary University of London.

Development team:

I find this all very interesting, where can I get more detailed information or ask some questions?
There are a number of research papers available on the Information Dynamics of Music.  Additionally a paper on the Melody Triangle specifically can be seen here.  We will link findings from the gathered data as it becomes available on this site.  If you have a specific question about the app, or some comments, please contact Henrik Ekeus – hekeus@eecs.qmul.ac.uk.

I’m on iPhone, any chance I could use it?

Unfortunately there are no current plans to port the Melody Triangle to iPhone.  However other exciting apps by the QApps team are available for iPhone.

A fun, easy to use app that lets you (and a clever bit of artificial intelligence) make music on your mobile phone