Morton Subotnick's Pitch Painter

App review by
Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense Media
Morton Subotnick's Pitch Painter App Poster Image
Innovative music app gets young kids composing.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn basic elements of music and composition including pitch, rhythm, and instrument sounds. This music app for young kids encourages experimentation and play with its visual music canvas and intuitive design. A selection of instruments from around the world gives kids an introduction to the music of other cultures. Kids also get a taste of the basic structure of written music; pitch changes depend on position, instruments are represented by different colors, and the piece plays from left to right. Morton Subotnick's Pitch Painter is a rare accomplishment: an innovative music creation tool that teaches early composition skills.

Ease of Play

The app is extremely intuitive, so even if kids don't understand all the controls at first, they will quickly figure out the basics. Parents may need to help young kids in the beginning. The opening screen provides text instructions for parents with labels for all of the buttons. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Morton Subotnick's Pitch Painter is a stellar music app that gives young kids the rare opportunity to experiment with music composition. The app's creators compare the experience to finger painting in the way young kids explore visual art creation with no formal training in art; here, kids can create short musical compositions, choosing different instruments and laying down tracks by simply finger drawing on a blank canvas. A little guidance from parents will get young kids composing in no time.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4 and 9-year-old Written byK W. October 5, 2019

fantastic visual/touch exploration of musicality and composition

This is fun for kids and adults. You can create a "score" simply by painting, which immediately gives sound. And you can play it back and scrub ba... Continue reading

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What's it about?

Kids tap to choose a set of instruments from one of four regions of the world. To compose, kids finger draw with any number of fingers on a blank canvas, tapping to change instruments as they would select colors in a painting app. Each color on the canvas represents a different instrument, and the musical pitch gets increasingly higher from the bottom to the top of the canvas. Press play and the composition plays from left to right. There are options to reverse and flip the canvas. Kids can save their creations to the app library and return to them later to play or edit.

Is it any good?

MORTON SUBOTNICK'S PITCH PAINTER allows young kids with no formal music training to experiment with musical creativity and composition. The ingenious interface is a perfect creative activity for young kids, who will love seeing and hearing the music they create. Additionally, with its musical canvas grid, the app introduces kids to the basic structure of written music in a concrete and visual way.

Keep in mind that Morton Subotnick's Pitch Painter is designed for young kids, and the limitations of the app reflect that fact. Older kids and adults will likely crave the ability to compose longer pieces or use more than three instruments in compositions. Inspiring a desire to create music seems like less of a complaint and more like a testament to this app's brilliance. Don't miss this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage your kids to experiment with drawing different patterns in the app, for example, a row of dots or a diagonal line, and listen to how the music changes.

  • Bring more music creation into your kids' everyday activities. Tap out a rhythm and have your kids try to repeat it, then ask them to give you one to try.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and creativity

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