When activating TouchPlay in a song we are going to see something very similar to the window above. Our regular interface is blurred out and superimposed over it are our chords. There is a little orange x in the top left corner which is our means to go back to our usual layout and then there is a toolbar at the very bottom of the screen with some ominous symbols, a tempo control and on the left side there is the continuous switch. What we can also see above is that ScalePlay is in play mode. Simply because one of the chord is highlighted and showing a progressbar.
So here is the thought behind this concept. We thought it would be nice if we could play our patterns out of sequence. And not only that, but let each chord keep looping until we decide otherwise. And that is in essence how TouchPlay works. Initially all chords are just sitting there, but if one of them is touched, it starts playing. Touch it again and it stops. If however one chord is playing and we touch another one, the second chord takes over and starts playing instead of the first one. That being said, we can now play our chords like an instrument and switch between them as quickly as we want. This makes for very nice effects and musically speaking opens up a whole new perspective on the entire patterning business we have discussed in such detail.
The four-beamed star shape at the right end of ScalePlay's center toolbar is the button to tap in order to get TouchPlay going in any song. Now let's talk a bit about these options we have.
Since we can switch between playing chords just by touching them there is a question of where in put patterns the second chord starts. The first chord we touch obviously starts the pattern set in our phrase matrix and proceeds through all steps in the step matrix. It then loops itself until we touch it again to stop it. Once we move to a second chord however while the first one is still playing, we have essentially two options. We can A) restart our phrase matrix and the entire loop or we can B) continue our phrase matrix where the first chord left off. The latter is exactly what happens if "continuous mode" is engaged. Otherwise the pattern is restarted each time a new chord is touched. This setting can be applied while playing back, so we can start a TouchPlay sequence in one mode, switch it while still playing back and switch it again. Makes for very interesting effects.
On the left in the image above is our pattern lock switch. We haven't talked about this one yet. This is a setting in which ScalePlay compensates for the root movement of chords with the express purpose to keep our scale patterns in the same general range or vicinity. If we had a pattern starting on a C chord for example and the next chord's root is a G, then usually all Cs would move 7 semitones up to G once that chord starts playing. With the pattern lock engaged that movement is largely eliminated. What will happen though is that (assuming here that we have a major scale on both roots) all Fs will be substituted for F#s while the G chord is playing. You can read more about this option in the miscellaneous section of this documentation. The very desirable side effect we can elicit here in TouchPlay is that we can start a song in a fairly narrow range with pattern lock engaged. And later at a point of our choosing we can widen that range quite a bit and have our notes soar much higher than before. Again think in terms of intro/outro, chorus, verse, etc.
Framed by the pattern lock button to the left and the bpm control on the right is a 3 button section of controls corresponding to the multi-stage line mode button in the main interface. We have split this button into 3 in TouchPlay for easier access. The current selection is always highlighted in orange. Changing the line mode makes for an interesting effect because we can configure a pattern to start intro-like with only the bottom part playing and then after a couple of bars let it play the entire pattern. This has already been set up in the Jaco sample composition. Something to try out.
At the far right we find our familiar bpm tempo control. Nothing new here. As always the tempo can be changed at any time - playing or not.
What makes TouchPlay an even more applicable option in music production is ScalePlay's full support of split-view. Split-view of course is only available on the newer types of iPad. As shown above, however, if your device is split-view capable, you can run ScalePlay right next to many other apps - apps that are capable of recording MIDI for example. We are showing Safari here with this exact page of our documentation in the right half of the iPad - a bit of recursive humor :]
TouchPlay adds so many performance possibilities to ScalePlay that it might well be a whole separate app. All of a sudden chords and scales are accessible at random, loopable and then there are several options to it that make a big difference. TouchPlay is in fact such a big factor that it warrants constructing song specifically for it. Songs where the progression from one chord to the next is meaningless because we are meant to jump around and not play them sequentially anyway. One small sample of such a song is the included Folks composition. It was written specifically to be used and experimented with in TouchPlay.
Next it is back to our regularly scheduled programming and we are going to take a very brief look at how ranges are highlighted in ScalePlay.