One of my favourite things to do when I was a kid was to sit in-front of a big electric organ we had at home and play with arpeggios and chords. Occasionally I would have my Dad bring back some cool Korg keyboards from the college he taught at, so that over the weekend I could make weird sound effects and play with arpeggios at the same time.
Polychord brings the functionality of an arpeggio unit to the iPad, along with a keyboard and some rhythm control for drums and bass to play along in the background. It also features 10 notes of polyphony on its keyboard. So making chords is what it was born to do, and the name “Polychord” fits!
Polychord is crisply laid out. And looks like something you might pick up and play with in a concept studio with it’s bright cyan, yellow and purple user interface bands separating the telephone dial style chord section, from the light blue control panel and banana yellow vertical keyboard. It is certainly striking when you fire it up. And I can imagine getting a lot of interest if you used it out in public. Which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.
An arpeggio is a sequence of notes that belong in a chord together played one after the other, and typically an arpeggiator is a little widget on a keyboard that will play different arpeggios at varying rhythms. Because all the notes in an arpeggio sound good together in a chord, they also sound good together as a kind of mini tune. In fact a lot of classical music, modern music and particularly trance tracks have their roots in such repetitive chord progressions.
Polychord for the iPad allows you to tweak and play with arpeggios, and play alongside them with some drum and base backing to boot. You can also switch the sample quality down on the app so that your music sounds really retro. It’s an “8 bit mode” which makes the music created sound like something that might be coming out of a Gameboy, which is cool.
The bright yellow keyboard down the side of the iPad’s screen, when held in landscape, is fun to plonk away on as you match the rhythms and backing. The dial type interfaces for picking different chord combinations are easy and fun to use. There is also a volume mixer so you can blend the different sounds levels of your composition.
There is no record feature, so this is more of a blue sky kind of app for passing the time, or perhaps a tool for the more musically gifted of us to work through composition ideas, or even do live performances on.
But all in all Polychord is an instrument in its own right. It’s not the cheapest app out there at $9.99. But it sounds good. And is certainly worth that sticker price.
- Friendly App with a Funky Interface.
- Easy to use.
- Makes you sound good!
- No record option.
- Some freezing issues on my iPad – which the developer says they are working on, and there is a workaround in the comments section of the app on the App Store.
$9.99 (View in iTunes)
Released: Nov 13, 2010
Seller: Shoulda Woulda Coulda inc
© Shoulda Woulda Coulda Inc
Requirements:Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later