Mike Gao’s Polyplayground is a new MIDI controller for the iPad that features an isomorphic key layout and the ability to displaying what other people are playing when you jam with them.
This app has a synthesizer built in, with separate pitch bend for each finger. But it is designed to be used as a MIDI controller, via the Camera Kit or a MIDI interface. For live performance, the app takes MIDI input, letting you visualize what a jam partner is playing. You can also stream chords you have already played into the device so that you are never lost if you want to improvise.
Polyplayground is designed to make understanding music theory easier, because the key layout is isomorphic. This means that chords are the same in all keys, so, if you know the ‘shape’ of a chord in one key, you can immediately play it in any key.
- You can press the Horizontal/Vertical buttons to change your pitch space.
- Guitar/bass players can change the pitch space to 5:1 (fourths by chromatic) for their familiar layout, while cello players can use 7:1 (fifths by chromatic).
- Other notable spaces are 4:7 (Longuet Higgins) and Gerald Balzano’s 4:3. In 4:7, a square is a major 7th. You can move this square one step at a time to the left to do a very John Coltrane like progression: transposing a major 7th down by major 3rds.
- MIDI input allows one to visualize existing music in this space to understand it easier. One can jam along with another musician, or existing MIDI chords and never get lost- because you can see what is going on.
- It also works wirelessly via OSC, which will be explained on our website. This will allow for music theory lessons to be taught remotely, or notes to be sent across the stage.
Polyplayground is $6.99 in the App Store. If you’ve used Polyplayground, leave a comment and let us know what you think of it!