Polyplayground Features Isomorphic Layout, Polyphonic Pitch Bend

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.

Other Features:

  • 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!

10 thoughts on “Polyplayground Features Isomorphic Layout, Polyphonic Pitch Bend

  1. this app changed my life. not only is it isomorphic but the way he puts the colors is genius. You can know what scale your in by just using color. PURE GENIUS

  2. Any videos ?

    Saw many apps being released in the last few days but they don’t accompany any videos
    Don’t understand why they don’t release the how to and videos before the app…

  3. Bought this. Just a warning for people who might want it for polyphonic pitch bend: it doesn’t work for midi out. That’s the feature I bought it for… well another 6.99 wasted. It does send velocity mapped on the Y axis, which Geo, for example, doesn’t do. I was hoping this one would do both polyphonic pitch bend and velocity.

    1. Is that a limitation of the application or of MIDI?

      I’ve never heard of any MIDI controller doing polyphonic pitch bend. Seems like another developer had raised that issue as a limitation of MIDI, too.

      It’s probably something that they should make clear in their blurb in the app store, though.

    2. Does the synth you are trying to control via MIDI support polyphonic pitch bend?
      I think the only way to accomplish it is sending PB on multiple channels…

      1. That’s true. Geo Synthesizer for the iPad does it through different midi channels. It works very well. I just thought this controller would have had a similar implementation since there is mention of polyphonic pitch bend in the app store blurp. Reading the blurp again, it doesn’t explicitly state that this would be the case, though. It just says that about the internal sound engine.

  4. Mind Blowing… the layout is really good for finding chords on the fly and transpose the hell out of any scale
    Once you have learned the fingers positions for scales and various type of chord, it’s a blast
    I would really like to have this layout on a a physical controller something like Axis 49 but with the current layout..

  5. Hi every one !
    This app is really great and the layout very clever.
    We are working on another isomorphic layout, absolutely original. If you want to see it check out, dualo.org. We will soon annonce our new instrument on synthopia. Until then, don’t hesitate to leave us a message!

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