polybeat user manual

table of contents


polybeat is an advanced and extremely flexible drum and percussion sequencer that is able to generate complex polyrhythmic and polymetric rhythmic patterns.



polybeat can be used as an Audio Unit 3 (AUv3) MIDI plugin in a compatible host (such as AUM, Audiobus 3, Garageband, ApeMatrix, NanoStudio 2, Cubasis 3 or Beatmaker 3).

main view

polybeat main view

the main view is the first view you encounter on launching polybeat. from top to bottom, it shows a sequencer lane for each drum voice (e.g., kick, snare, clap or hihat). sequences run from left to right and can be scrolled. the length of the a track's sequence can be adjusted by dragging the handle on the right of the sequencer track or using the plus (+) or minus (-), or the double (*) or bisect (/) buttons in the sequencer header view.

the available drum voices can be edited by selecting a different MIDI mapping in the menu (menu > MIDI mapping > apps/hardware/scales), or by creating a custom mapping from scratch (menu > MIDI mapping > custom).

sequencer header view

polybeat sequencer header view

at the top of the main view is the horizontally scrollable sequencer header view, which contains operations that can be performed on a per-sequence basis. sequences can be instantly transformed by various actions, allowing one to create subtle to dramatic changes in patterns. actions are performed on the currently selected sequencer track, which is recognizable by the color of the icons corresponding to that of the currently selected sequencer track. the following options and transformations are available, from left to right:

remove all the triggers from the selected track.

mute the selected track.

solo the selected track.

set step length
displays the step length menu, to set the step length for the selected track. the default step length is 16th notes, but they can be set anything within the range of double whole notes to 64th notes, including dotted and double dotted notes, as well as duplets, triplets, quintuplets and septuplets.

randomizes the sequence. for binary sequences, randomize produces a euclidean pattern, which results in more even patterning and thus more musically interesting results.

randomly changes one value in the pattern, allowing to gradually introduce some change without drastically changing the entire pattern.

shift left/right
shifts (or, rotates) the sequence along its horizontal axis, meaning that step 1 moves to step 2, step 2 to step 3, etc.

reverses the pattern.

inverts the pattern. this means that all the steps that active are set to inactive and vice versa.

doubles the pattern by duplicating the existing steps.

bisects the pattern by removing the latter half of the steps.

modulation view

polybeat modulation view

at the bottom of the main view is the modulation view. this view contains step attributes that can be configured on a per-step basis. the values in the modulation view always correspond to the currently selected sequencer track, recognizable by the color of the separator line at the top of the view. the following step attributes are available:

accents allow for accentuation of certain steps, meaning they will be played louder (with a higher velocity value) than regular steps.

affects the velocity (relative loudness) of individual steps. similar to the accent attribute, except you can set the velocity to any value within the range of 0 to 127.

ratcheted (i.e., note repeat) duplicates events in time by dividing a given step into a number of equidistant triggers, creating a fast roll of notes in a musical subdivision of the sequence's main pulse.

skips the trigger on the selected step every n loops. for instance, a skip value of 3, means the note on that specific trigger will only be played every 3 loops of that sequence. this can be used to introduces variety in shorter sequences.

the chance sequence allows for randomness to be introduced into a pattern. the value on a given step sets the probability that the notes on that step will play within in a range of 20 (20% chance) to 100% (the note(s) will always play).

the offset sequence move the selected step ahead in time by a small increment. this allows for swing or more complex timing variations to be created.

sends midi CC (Continuous Control) values to control parameters of apps or external hardware. you can send CC values to one destination per channel. the destination is configurable by tapping the CC selection button while the CC modulation lane is selected.

snapshot view

polybeat snapshot view

tapping the letter displayed (e.g., A) on the top navigation bar reveals the snapshot menu. snapshots store the current state of a pattern and can be used to easily create and switch between different variations on a pattern. tap + to add a new snapshot to the pattern. long press on a snapshot cell to delete or duplicate the current snapshot.

custom MIDI mappings

polybeat custom MIDI mapping

polybeat ships with a large number of MIDI mapping presets for popular apps and hardware drum machines (see menu > MIDI mapping > apps/hardware). in addition to this, you can define your own custom MIDI mappings for cases not covered by the presets (menu > MIDI mapping > custom). tap the + in the top right to add a drum voice and define its name and MIDI output. slide left on a cell to remove a drum voice from the mapping. you can add up to 16 drum voices.

MIDI input

polybeat can be controlled by MIDI, for instance using an external MIDI controller or another app or plugin that sends MIDI. the MIDI mapping is as follows:

select snapshot
pitches 0-7 (MIDI note input)

select track
pitches 8-24 (MIDI note input, pitch 8 = track 1, pitch 9 = track 2, etc.)

sequence operations (on currently selected track)
25 clear
26 mute
27 solo
28 randomize
29 mutate
30 shift left
31 shift right
32 add
33 remove
34 reverse
35 mirror
36 duplicate
37 bisect


concept, design & development: Corné Driesprong

beta testers: Rolf Seese

app version history