Quincy ships with three sound modules (Chroma, Gregorian and Pentrix) with more to come. Each module uses its own algorithm to create sound but also defines the key and a base scale to be used as tone material. The Chroma module is geared towards atonal music with several symmetric and chromatic scales. The Gregorian module employs church modes and the Pentrix module offers 27 types of pentatonic scales.
There are two playback modes, audio and MIDI. In audio mode playback is routed through a device's speakers or headphones. This mode offers 128 instruments and adjustable reverb settings. MIDI playback is WiFi based so you can route Quincy’s output to any DAW like Logic or Ableton.
Below is a quick overview touching on all base elements and features of the application. Quincy also has its own facebook page where we collect all matters Quincy: facebook.com/quincyapp.
We put the complete documentation for Quincy online which includes over 100 screenshots. It is very detailed, covers all aspects of the application and gives some background into overall concepts and implementation details.
In the tools section, framed by the color selection box on the left and the pattern selection box on the right, are stepper controls for BPM and loop settings. Between these stepper controls is the module display indicating module name, current key and tone material (scale).
Centered in the tools section is the tool slider. Its default position as seen in the picture to the right is the play position with start, step, reset and loop buttons. The tool slider also contains 2 other sets of tools - the edit and draw tools. To enter edit or draw mode one simply slides the tool slider to the desired position and can then draw in the large display area or edit sections of it.
Documents are shared with help of the button in right top corner of the display. Tapping it displays the iOS document share view with options for sharing via email, message or AirDrop. AirDrop is only available on newer devices (i.e. iPad 4th generation and up, iPhone 5).
Quincy ships with 12 sample documents. These are meant as an introduction and can be deleted if so desired. There is, however, an option in the application's setting to add them back in later on.
The top section contains display related options. The second section - Player Settings - contains BPM and loop controls followed by the Playback Mode control. Quincy has 2 playback modes - audio and MIDI. In audio all sound is routed through the device's speaker or headphones whereas in MIDI mode the device itself is silenced. MIDI is transmitted via WiFi to available recipient's like a MacBook or iMac. Switching between playback modes affects the options display in Settings. In Audio mode - as shown to the right - controls for instrument selection and reverb settings are displayed. These are not shown in MIDI mode which displays a selection of available MIDI destinations as well as a control for setting a desired MIDI channel.
The last item in the Settings popover - is a button to restore the default documents Quincy ships with. Located at the very bottom of the list it is not shown in the picture to the right. Again - remember that the sttings popover is scrollable.
Life Settings has 2 sets of 9 numbered switches (one for survival and on for births) that work identically. Numbers 1 - 8 in the Survival section for example determine which neighbors of a cell need to be alive for a cell to survive into the next generation. If only the number 2 was switched on then only those cells with a live neighbor on that side or corner will survive. All others die. Switching on multiples has the same effect so the survival setting of 23 indicates that only cells with live neighbors on 2, 3 or both will survive. The same logic is applied to possible births. Additionally there is a number 0. When checked cells with no live neighbors will also survive.
In the Miscellaneous section are options to control the grid size, random cell insertions and a generations display option that allows to view up to 3 generations simultaneously with older generations slightly faded.
The Tone Material section of the popover displays the name of a scale. Tapping on that name will slide in the tone material selector where one has a choice of scales. Each module has its own selection of scales. The Pentrix module for example features 27 pentatonic scales. A full list is available in the online documentation.
Finally there are two sections called Rhythm and Voices. A module can only use one of these, so the other one is automatically disabled. The Gregorian module uses the Voices section and creates 4 distinct voices in the ranges of Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano. Any combination of these is possible, so each voice has a toggle switch. The Rhythm section which is available in the Chroma and Pentrix modules features a similar setup only that the options there are half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes. Again any of these can be used individually or in combination.
On the iPad the orientation of the device determines the display mode of Quincy. In portrait orientation the application looks as seen in the pictures so far. In landscape orientation the entire tools section disappears and the transport section of the tool slider moves into the application's toolbar. At the same time the documents view appears on the left side and cannot be hidden. To get a good view of this mode take a look at the video below where we play a couple of the included sample documents.
When used as Audiobus input source Quincy adds a play/reset toggle button to the customary Audiobus palette. Quincy is not a typical instrument or effect in this context and has a much heavier cpu load. So there are some things to keep in mind when using it as Audiobus input source that may affect specific workflows. A special chapter in the documentation gives an overview and some performance tips.
Quincy is very powerful and a joy to work with. You can create infinite variations on a theme just by coupling playback loops with random inserts or use it in performance mode with one-tap document switching and the ability to draw into the playing document without disturbing the original. Quincy renders stunning visuals, produces the craziest looking metronomes, very atmospheric soundscapes and strange rhythmic patterns that have many uses in music production.