StepPolyArp update – Laurent Colson brings new features to his iOS arpeggiator app

Download from iTunes App StoreStepPolyArp logoI’ve mentioned my fondness for arpeggiators on the blog on a number of occasions – a fondness that stems from my less-than-stellar keyboard skills – which kind of makes it even more embarrassing that I’ve never got around to reviewing the excellent StepPolyPad app from Laurent Colson. Aside from being overworked and underpaid, my only real excuse is that Laurent’s app has been around on the App Store way longer than the Music App Blog has been in existence :-)

Laurent is, however, the developer behind ChordPolyPad. That is an app I’ve featured here on the blog on a number of occasions and it is absolutely one of my favourite MIDI performance apps. It is very well featured and, while there is a bit of a learning curve, it provides a hugely flexible means of playing MIDI parts via the touchscreen for those without traditional keyboard skills (that’s me then).

‘arping on about it

There are some nice arpeggiators scattered amongst the world of iOS music apps – some dedicated apps such as StepPolyArp and others built into specific synths – so this might make a good topic for a ‘round up‘ article at some stage. However, StepPolyArp is both fairly easy to use and well featured…  so if you want an introduction to this kind of tool, it’s a good place to start. And, at UK£9.99, with support for iOS5.1.1 and later, Audiobus and IAA support and being only a 3MB download, it ought to be able to find a home on almost any iOS musician’s iPad.

StepPolyArp - a flexible and well-featured arpeggiator for the iOS musician.

StepPolyArp – a flexible and well-featured arpeggiator for the iOS musician.

The basic feature set is impressive; patterns up to 32 steps can be created and, as you then feed the app a chord via MIDI, that pattern is recreated in realtime using the notes that you are playing in. You can create presets with 16 patterns and easy movement between these patterns, transpose, play patterns via a number of internal sounds or (more usually) send the MIDI data out to your favourite iOS (or, with suitable MIDI connectivity, desktop/hardware) synths, sync to MIDI clock if linked to a DAW/sequencer, generate random patterns, add controller data to your patterns… and a whole bunch more. And this is all topped off with a very attractively designed interface that is pretty easy to use via the touchscreen.

The app is supplied with some excellent presets to get you started.

The app is supplied with some excellent presets to get you started.

Going Up

The reason for highlighting StepPolyArp right now is that the app has just received an update – to v.2.5 – and, as well as a number of routine bug fixes, there are also a few significant new features. Top of that list for me is full IAA support with MIDI input and host sync. This makes it much easier to use the app within my usual DAW/sequencer Cubasis.

StepPolyArp now has full IAA integration - which worked great fro me within Cubasis.

StepPolyArp now has full IAA integration – which worked great fro me within Cubasis.

Having given this a bit of a run through today, despite the usual scratching over MIDI ports that iOS seems able to induce, I managed to get this working very solidly. I was able to use a combination of two MIDI tracks (you could probably organise this in a number of different ways to suit particular needs) with one sending my basic chords out to StepPolyArp and the other receiving MIDI data back from StepPolyArp to trigger an internal synth sound within Cubasis (although this could also have been a further iOS synth app). It all worked a treat…

MIDI and sync options are well catered for.

MIDI and sync options are well catered for.

Other additions in this update include iCloud support for moving presets between devices and a number of additional scales/modes added to use with the interval virtual keyboard. There are also some excellent new transpose options including the ability to have certain lines in the patterns stay ‘fixed’ so they can drive drum sounds.

In summary

If you have never explored the options provided by an arpeggiator, there are, of course, simpler places you can start than StepPolyArp including (if you own a few of the better iOS synths) some built into apps you already own. However, StepPolyArp will work with pretty much any iOS synth and offers a pretty sophisticated and flexible feature set. Once you have spent a little time with it, then the arp offerings in some synths are going to seem pretty limited by comparison.

StepPolyArp is well worth exploring…  and, if your keyboard skills are as ‘average’ as mine, a combination of Laurent’s ChordPolyPad and StepPolyArp might be just what’s required to get some killer keyboard lines into your iOS music productions.

StepPolyArp – MIDI Step Polyphonic Arpeggiator


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    Comments

    1. Highly recommended ios Step Sequencer app. I’ve tested it with Cubasis and now i got much more fun while producing and jamming with my iPad!

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