Polyphonic MIDI tracks on the Play

(Moderation note: some comments have been moved from MIDI record multiple notes on the same step via external controller to continue the discussion here. @icaria36)

Well @Hans , you should correct your manual and your website then…
You cannot sell a product with a specification that states there are polyphonic midi tracks and not implement them. I bought the Play based on the public specs that Polyend has written. So as a customer I expect these specs to be part of the product.

I also bought the unit with the intent of recording MIDI into it
It is strange, and confusing that this “does not fit the current product design direction” when in the faq it is actually advertised as a feature…

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I totally agree. All devices have limitations but you need to know them before buying.
I bought a novation circuit rhythm and it has a lot of limitations but I knew that reading the description and the manual. There is no ambiguity.
With the Play, that I still like for all the implemented features, it feels like (actually I might say it is) false advertisement.

About polyphony. The Play’s MIDI tracks are polyphonic. They take more than one note per step. They are not monophonic. MIDI record multiple notes on the same step via external controller is a wish that has been declined. Despite of the lack of this feature, the tracks are still polyphonic.

About playing chords with an external keyboard. Selecting notes and chords via knobs isn’t as convenient as playing the chords with a keyboard controller, but users can still enter multiple notes per step. And those who aren’t familiar with a piano keyboard and chords/scales are probably happy with selecting just the root note and then the chords by their name.

Taking a step back… what are the real-life situations where a user can’t record the notes they have in mind using the 20 pre-programmed chords or the Piano Roll? What are the situations where only an external MIDI keyboard could save the day?

  • But chords in the piano roll are not compressed into a single track/step! right?
  • What if I want to create a 9 notes chord into a single step and I’m quoting the FAQ: “(you can MIDI record notes to a step) and spit up to 30 MIDI notes at the same time.”
  • What if I want to do a custom chord / custom inversion like C2 G2 C3 Eb3 C4 Bb4 G5 C6 ?

I still persist to say that midi tracks are not polyphonic: polyphonic means independent notes. Like in sustaining a chord and playing a melody on top of it.
What you describe is homophonic tracks: playing block chords with the same duration for each of the notes.
I am sorry but description of a product should be accurate.
When you buy a polyphonic synth, for instance, you want it to behave like a polyphonic synth and not like a paraphonic synth.
The same applies here. Polyphonic has a clear definition. So product description should use it only if it respects the definition.
This is not to say that you cannot do a lot with the provided chords, it is even better for some use cases. But it is still valid for the customers to ask for a feature which is clearly put in front as per described on the website. Especially now with the piano roll.

To be clear, I really like the Play and the workflow is extremely fast and easy.

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@christophe.tornieri what about this: the Play’s MIDI tracks are polyphonic, but a single step is not.

You can have a chord defined in step 1 (i.e. C3 Minor) with a 16 step note length, and then use steps 2-15 to make your melody one note per step, all in track 1. You could even choose to send different steps to different MIDI channels to involve multiple instruments in a single track. Isn’t this polyphony?

The limitation is that you cannot send multiple note / MIDI channel instructions in a single step. You are restricted to either one note or one chord and one MIDI channel per step. But this limitation doesn’t make a MIDI track paraphonic or homophonic, the track is still overall polyphonic.

Two examples, recorded with a single track each:

(The documentation mentions 30 notes at once but here there are times when 32 simultaneous notes are playing, all with 1 track and using chords.)

@baj, this is why I’m asking about real-life situations. :slight_smile:

But chords in the piano roll are not compressed into a single track/step! right?

No, but if you need a sound that cannot be covered with the 20 pre-programmed chords, the feature is there if you want to use it.

What if I want to create a 9 notes chord into a single step and I’m quoting the FAQ: “(you can MIDI record notes to a step) and spit up to 30 MIDI notes at the same time.”

But this quote is out of context. The same FAQ says before: “A single step can hold and play a note or a chord.”

In a real-life situation, if you really need that 9-note chord, you probably can use two tracks and split that nonachord in two simpler chords. Even the best pianists play with two hands. :slight_smile: More about real-life situations, if someone is constructing such chord, either it is in the background as a long note (you can use one step and extend the note length, which means that the next steps will be available) or it is in the forefront (and if that’s the case, how many more sounds can you reasonably pile up at the same time?)

What if I want to do a custom chord / custom inversion like C2 G2 C3 Eb3 C4 Bb4 G5 C6 ?

In addition to the above, you can record and sample that very special chord with your external synth and/or DAW and use it in just one audio step, which then you can pitch with different notes for variation. :slight_smile: Not many people have the skills and the hands to play that chord with an external MIDI keyboard anyway.

Question about the section that was missing on MIDI record multiple notes on the same step via external controller. What MIDI step sequencers are out there that allow to record with an external MIDI controller various notes chosen by the user (not predefined chords) on a single MIDI step? Having products to compare directly with would make this discussion more practical.

Oh, and one more thought. If you miss the chord you need, there is this wish for the Tracker that could be replicated for the Play: Custom MIDI chords.

Hi there.

Roland MC101/707 does this very well. Plus, once recorded, you can then edit each note pitch, length, velocity individually for that single step.

Circuit Tracks does this as well. Plus once recorded, you can add remove notes from the step.

I guess we are mixing two things here: the chord function and the ability to midi record chords. If the tracks are polyphonic and they support 30 notes I would expect to hit 30 keys on my keyboard and get those recorded into the step, I could bring some friends to help me press all the keys if it helps with your skills/hands argument…

My take on the issue is that: Each step can only store a single “data unit” (whatever that is) that’s why the chords functions were created. The problem comes when bringing MIDI from an external device we would have more “data units” (one per key) so we need as many tracks available as key pressed. I don’t know If this is the qualifies as a polyphonic track…

If it help, my expectations as a buyer were ‘oh, 30 notes polyphony per track, I can record 8 poly sythns!’ Instead now I can only record 8 notes…

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Synthstrom Deluge, oxi one, op-z.

OK. Let’s say that it is a limited version of polyphonic. I guess I can live with it.