Help

Getting Started

Tap + or Create Document to create a new document. Grid Music supports the Files app, which means you can store Grid Music documents using iCloud Drive or other cloud storage services.

Tap + or New Pattern to create and open a new pattern. When creating a new pattern, you can choose a template or start with a blank pattern. Choose the “16 Steps” template.

Tap ▶︎ to start playback. Tap any of the circles (note cells) to turn them on and off. Touch and drag note cells to change their pitch. The green square (a source cell) at the top left blinks every 16 steps, sending a pulse through the note cells, playing a note when it activates a note cell that has been turned on. The pulse follows the white lines (connections).

Tap one of the diamonds (modulation cells) at the bottom of the grid to turn it on. When a pulse activates a modulation cell, it changes the synthesizer’s tone for the duration of that step.

Now you’ve created a simple pattern. Some other things to try:

Interface

Song

  • Documents — Close this document and return to the document browser
  • +, New Pattern — Add a new pattern to the end of the song
  • Select — Enter Select mode
  • Queue — Enter Queue mode

Playback Controls

Pattern

  • + — Add a new pattern to the end of the song
  • — Duplicate the current pattern, adding a copy after the current pattern; open the copy
  • 🗑 — Delete the current pattern and open the previous pattern
  • Root, Scale, Octave — Change pitch quantization settings
  • Edit Layout — Edit the pattern’s cell types and connections

Patterns

Patterns in Grid Music are made up of cells and connections. The pattern view shows a pattern in detail and provides tools for editing it.

Cells have a specific function depending on their type

  • Source cells (green squares) emit pulses.
  • Note cells (blue circles) play a note when activated by a pulse.
  • Modulation cells (pink diamonds) change the timbre of the sound when activated.

Pulses activate cells, moving between them by following connections

When a pulse moves to a new cell, it activates that cell for the duration of the step.

On the next step, if there is a connection in the direction the pulse is moving, the pulse will move to the cell in that direction. Otherwise, if there is a connection to a cell in an adjacent direction (a turn), the pulse will move to that cell, changing direction. If there are two adjacent connections (a branch), the pulse will follow a rotating and possibly random connection. Finally, if there are no connections adjacent to a pulse’s direction (a dead end), it will stop.

Pulses also follow a rotating and possibly random direction when emitted from a source cell with multiple connections.

The chance that a pulse will choose a random direction is determined by the random branching probability, which can be changed using playback settings.

Editing a pattern’s cells changes its melody and timing

  • Tap cells to turn them on or off.
  • Tap and drag note cells to change their pitch. Drag up for higher pitches, down for lower pitches.
  • Tap and drag source cells to change their interval. Drag up to emit pulses more frequently, down for less frequently. The number on the cell indicates the interval in steps.
  • Tap and drag modulation cells to change the type of tone.

Editing a pattern’s layout changes its structure

To edit a pattern’s layout, tap Edit Layout.

  • Tap any cell to change its type. The cell type will cycle through source, note, and modulation.
  • Drag between cells to connect or disconnect them.

Tap Edit Layout again to return to editing the pattern’s cells.

You can easily change a pattern’s key signature

The pitches of note cells are always in the pattern’s key signature: they are quantized. This means that you can easily compose a melody in key and then transpose it to other scales or keys.

Create a new pattern using a template

Create a new pattern by tapping +. Grid Music offers a number of template layouts to start from, but you can also create an entirely blank pattern.

Patterns can be duplicated

A pattern can be duplicated by tapping . This creates a copy of the current pattern immediately after it and opens the copy. You can compose a sequence of related patterns by duplicating a pattern each time you’ve made some changes you like.

Songs

The patterns in a Grid Music document make up a song. The song view shows a list of all patterns in the song, and indicates the currently queued pattern with a yellow border.

Quickly select patterns for playback in Queue mode

Tap Queue to enter Queue mode. With playback running, tap patterns to queue them. After you tap a pattern, Grid Music will wait until the next multiple of the pattern length to start playing the pattern. Tap Done to exit Queue mode.

Select multiple patterns in Select mode

Tap Select, and then tap patterns to select them. Tap Delete to delete the selected patterns. Tap Done to exit Select mode.

Playback Settings

Tap to open playback settings. Playback settings, with the exception of Ableton Link settings, are saved per document.

Use the Tempo slider and stepper to set the song’s tempo in beats per minute.

The Pattern Length and Beat Value steppers modify the song’s time signature. The pattern length determines the step multiple on which patterns start, and the beat value determines the number of steps in a beat. Accents are automatically added to every step that is a multiple of the pattern length. A weaker accent is added to every step that is a multiple of the beat value.

Use the Random Branching slider to set the probability that a pulse will move in a random direction at a branch rather than in the next clockwise direction. This setting ranges from 0% chance (always use the next clockwise direction) to 100% (always choose randomly).

The step indicator shows a summary of playback status

When playback is running, the step indicator is displayed in the navigation bar as a horizontal line.

Normally, the step indicator shows the current step’s offset from the previous multiple of the pattern length. You can use the step indicator to ensure that a queued pattern will start when you want. It’s a good idea to make sure a pattern is queued with a few steps to spare.

When a pattern is queued, the step indicator shows that pattern’s progress towards starting.

Patterns always start on a multiple of the pattern length

When you open a pattern or queue it in Queue mode, Grid Music will wait until the next multiple of the pattern length to start the pattern. The pattern length only determines when a pattern starts, not the period of the pattern, which can be shorter or longer depending on its layout and the intervals of its source cells. For example, a pattern might have source cells with intervals 16 and 3 for a period of 48.

Time signature settings

To convert time signature notation into time signature settings for Grid Music, set the beat value to the lower number, and the pattern length to the product of the lower number and the upper number. For example, new documents start with a 4/4 time signature, which corresponds to a beat value of 4 and a pattern length of 16.

Example Time Signature Settings
Time Signature Pattern Length Beat Value
4/4 16 4
2/2 4 2
2/4 8 4
3/4 12 4
3/8 24 8

Tap Ableton Link in playback settings, and tap the Ableton Link switch to enable or disable Ableton Link.

With Ableton Link enabled, Grid Music will synchronize tempo and playback position with other apps and devices connected with Ableton Link. For example, Grid Music can be connected to a drum machine app using Ableton Link such that both play at the same tempo and start their patterns at the same time.

For more information, see https://www.ableton.com/link/.

Synthesizer Settings

Tap to open synthesizer settings. Synthesizer settings are saved per document.

The Pulse Width slider changes the synthesizer’s pulse width duty cycle. Pulse width can be ramped up or down to the slider setting by choosing Ramp Up or Ramp Down. If ramping is selected, the pulse width begins at the minimum or maximum setting and smoothly changes to the slider or modulation setting as a note plays.

The Vibrato slider changes the depth of the vibrato, or the maximum amount by which the pitch is shifted up and down.

The Envelope Attack slider changes the rate at which a note reaches full volume after being triggered at the beginning of a step. The Envelope Release slider changes the rate at which a note reaches zero volume after a note is done playing, halfway through a step.

Range of Synthesizer Settings
Setting Minimum Maximum
Pulse Width 50% duty cycle 95% duty cycle
Vibrato 0 semitones 0.5 semitones
Envelope 0.001 seconds 2 seconds

Pulse width can be modulated

The pink diamond next to the Pulse Width slider indicates that modulation cells may modify this setting. Modulation cells will change the pulse width setting to their value when activated. For example, a modulation cell at maximum value will change the pulse width duty cycle to 95%. When no modulation cell is activated, the slider setting is used.