Out today, Arpeggionome is the iPhone follow-up to an iPad grid instrument, making lovely, elegant cascades of notes from a screen full of circles. The work of San Francisco-based electrical engineer Alexander Randon, it’s especially nice to see not just the app itself, but the music the developer makes with his own tool.

Watch the video, and you’ll get a feel for how he makes his creation musically expressive.

Evidently inspired by both the Tenori-On and the community of monome apps, Arpeggionome has a number of features that set it apart from other tools. It’s tough to find iPhone apps that are as handy as iPad apps, given its smaller size. But here, there are some clever touches.

Parameter changes are quantized – a move Alexander says was inspired by Ableton Live. That makes the app well-suited to beat-driven music, but also more practical to handheld idea sketching.

MIDI support (available via a $4.99 in-app upgrade) is robust, with MIDI clock sync and external MIDI triggering. You can even trigger whole patterns via MIDI, a nice addition for live performance. That makes this usable in larger rigs in a way some apps (cough, iMaschine) still aren’t, and extends the playability of even the pocket-able iPhone version.

Parameter view knobs have a smart touch adaptation: Alexander notes that you can “drag-down and release” and “reset the knob to its stored value with the pattern.”


Also included:

  • X-Y matrix triggers patterns across pitches and speeds, hence the dizzying streams of notes you hear in the demo.
  • Accelerometer/tilt for pitch band and volume.
  • 15 touch knobs.
  • Lots of included presets, or build from scratch.
  • 240 notes per second in the Performance Matrix, with adjustments for start note and rate.
  • MIDI (via in-app purchase) for everything: Virtual MIDI (between apps), CoreMIDI hardware interfaces, MIDI over Bluetooth, and MIDI over WiFi.

There’s in-built documentation, and the whole tool is built with the free Pure Data library (to which I helped contribute in some modest way) libpd.
Alexander also sends along some nice words as a reader, to which I say, those of you working on this really do inspire one another with your ideas, so all of you can take some credit for seeing concepts spread through music making. (He also gives nods to Ray Wenderlich and StackOverflow as iOS development resources!)

$.99 through this month (and in-app MIDI is cheaper than normal, too); full price will be US$2.99.

But let’s hear some of Alexandernaut’s music, too, ethereal, moody music, tightly quantized and taking apparent inspiration from eerie video game scores of yore. It’s available free on Bandcamp, and you can listen here:

— and, of course, he’s put together an all-Arpeggionome record, also free on Bandcamp.


The apps, including a Music Hack Day version that became the sophisticated Pro app for iPad and now this: