Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q) I can't hear anything / notes are very quiet / how do I turn off the velocity feature?

If you aren't hearing anything at all, first make sure the device volume is up. Next, check to make sure polychord's master volume is up (look in the Volume Mixer panel).

If you would like to turn off the touch pressure velocity (which makes notes louder the harder you press), there is a setting in both the "Strum" & "Chord" settings panels called "touch pressure". If you turn it off, the notes will play at full volume regardless of how hard (or soft) you press.

The touch pressure uses the iPad's accelerometer, meaning that if the iPad is locked into a dock or has no freedom of movement, the touch pressure will not work (and the notes will likely be quiet). If you have the iPad in a dock (like the Alesis iO dock), we recommend not using the touch pressure feature.

Finally, we are going to be submitting an update to boost the overall volume of the app. A lot of you have requested that the app be louder; we've listened and are going to submit an update very soon to address this.

Q) How can I record / save / share my songs?

A) Simply update to version 2 and start using the new record features, and soundCloud integration! To record, simply hit the record button and start playing. When you're done, hit stop, or hit the record button again. You'll be prompted to save the song, title it, etc. You can record thousands of takes because the file size remains very small until you're ready to upload to soundCloud.

Q) How do I use polychord as a MIDI controller?

A) Yes, see our MIDI tutorial

Q) How do I use virtual MIDI to control other apps?

You've probably seen our BETA videos where polychord is controlling other apps which are running in the background using virtual MIDI, and would like to do the same. Please note that at this time, there are no synths on the app store that we know of that support this. We are lucky enough to have pre-release copies of a few synths that will support it soon, but these are not yet available to the public. We are working with developers to get a list together of which apps support this feature.

You can already use polychord with MoDrum or FunkBox running in the background, and they will receive both notes as well as timing/sync. Please refer to those developer's websites for instructions on how to receive MIDI from other apps through virtual MIDI.

Please note that virtual MIDI and multitasking is going to be *very* limited on first generation iPads. The processors are simply not fast enough to run more than one or two apps at a time -- and even then, apps are going to compete for resources.

Many developers have begun working together to find ways to optimize their apps, and make them play nicely with each other through multitasking and virtual MIDI. This is a very exciting development, but expect it to take a significant amount of time before it is 'ready for primetime'.

By default, polychord sends MIDI out to all available ports, including virtual ports. You simply must decide which instruments to send by turning them on in the MIDI settings panel.

What happened to the arpeggiator speed options?

By default, the new arpeggiator is set to 4/4 time. The next several time signatures are the same as medium, fast and hyper in version 1. Play around with the different time signatures, we think you'll agree that the new way is way more powerful!

Q) What are 'Attack', 'Release', 'Decay', 'Sustain'?

A) These sliders control the 'shape' of the sound you're playing. In other words, whether the sound is short and percussive, slow and smooth, etc.

Attack is how quickly the sound reaches its full volume. Release is how long the sound takes to die out. Sustain is how loud the sound remains when a key is held down. Decay is how long it takes to get down to the Sustain volume. A piano, for instance, has a very short attack, no sustain, a medium decay, and a short or long release (longer release means the notes 'ring out').

We realize this may be a little advanced for the casual player, so we're working on some presets that will make changing the sound shape easier.

Q) How do the different strum scale settings work?

If the strum is set to 'chord', each of the keys will play the individual notes of whatever chord is selected (i.e., whatever chord circle you've last hit). If you set it to a scale, the keys will play the notes of that scale according to the musical key you are in (which is set by the key selector buttons along the top of the chord circles, under major and minor).

Q) How do I turn off the drums / other auto-accompaniment ?

A) Press the red switch button in the auto accompany section of the main settings panel. The button next to the switch lets you change beats

Q) How do I change the speed of the beat?

A) Slide the tempo slider in the Auto Accompany section of the main settings panel. You can also tap the BPM text input and type in an exact amount. If you type in a BPM, it will allow you to set the beat as high as 500 BPM -- useful for generating interesting textures, especially when combined with bit-shifted drums.

Q) I'm trying to play a song, and I'm missing a chord I need

A) We're working on making it easy to swap out chords, and customize the palette. In the meantime, here's some background on polychord's palettes that might help:

To make polychord easy for anyone to play, the chords on the screen are the chords that fit into a particular musical key. By default, polychord opens in C Major. The chords available are the 7 chords in that key, plus two 'accidental' chords.

If you're looking up tabs on the internet, sometimes it can be hard to figure out what key the song is in. The quickest way is to flip through the different keys (C-B, Major/Minor, along the top of the screen) until you find the key that has all of the chords you need in it.

Even with that, you still might find that some songs actually change key in the middle of a song (the Beach Boys, for instance, do this a lot).

While the current palette may sometimes be restrictive, there is an educational aspect to it; you get to see what key a song is actually in, and you get to see how bands change keys in a song as a means of artistic expression.

We'll post on our Facebook page when we have an update out for customizing your polychord palette. Thanks for your patience!

Q) What is 'bitshift' ?

A) The bitshift feature gives your instruments the sound of vintage video game systems, like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or Commodore 64 (C64 / SID).

Q) Will there be more / different instrument sounds?

A) Yes, we're working on expanding the tonal range of polychord. Additionally, MIDI support will allow you to use polychord to play your software instruments (in Garageband, Logic, Pro Tools, etc), which will give you infinite sound possibilities.

Q) Why doesn't polychord do X,Y,Z?

A) We want to make sure that every version of polychord provides a great experience for you. Our primary focus early on was to build an instrument that could be played easily by just about anyone, and that song writers could use to come up with interesting musical combinations.

We also want the program to be rock-solid-stable. We hate apps that crash, and we go through great lengths to make sure ours doesn't. So, we're only going to add features when they're absolutely ready, and have been thoroughly tested.

That said, we have a TON of exciting plans for future releases of polychord. Most of the biggest feature requests are already in development. We encourage you to 'like' polychord on Facebook, and post ideas for features on our feature discussion page.

Q) Who or what is Shoulda Woulda Coulda?

A) Shoulda Woulda Coulda Inc., the developer of Polychord, was founded in Los Angeles, California, by Hugo Nicolson and Gregory Wieber. Hugo is a grammy award winning sound engineer and producer who has worked with artists like David Holmes, Radiohead and Primal Scream. Gregory is a sound & vision artist and graduate of Bard College, and formerly an interaction designer at the video game company Electronic Arts (EA).

How to contact us

If you have a question that's not answered here, you can contact