RavelNotes User Manual



RavelNotes is an original and versatile musical instrument
for the iPad
offering many advanced features!

Create and play music immediately without knowing how to
interpret scores or, for example how to play a guitar or the piano.

Simply drag notes and chords from the notebar into any position in the workspace
where they can be played by simply tapping them (multitouch).


  • Real time playing!
  • Intuitive design, easy to play.
  • Play using the in-app 127 General Midi preset sounds, and/or:
  • Connect and play on up to four synthesizer apps running in de background, e.g.
    Thor, Nave, iProphet, iMini, Sunrizer – just to name a few.
  • Play along with songs on Apple Music!
  • Drag notes and chords anywhere on the workspace and play them (multitouch).
  • Combine notes and chords into new custom chords and vice versa.
  • Make multitimbral custom chords with notes simultaneously playing
    on different synthesizers and/or internal sounds.
  • Save your workspaces in the in-app database.
  • Copy, Cut and Paste notes and chords.
  • Several types of keyboard templates available.
  • Share your workspaces with other RavelNotes users by email!
  • Works off-line. No internet connection or cloud needed.
  • Extensive built-in illustrated help file.



Notedrones with chords and single notes. Selected notedrones have a little yellow checkmark.

Notedrones are movable buttons that you can play!
They contain either the notes that form a chord or just a single note.
In notedrones that present a chord, the individual notes are clearly visible.
The color of a note is related to the pitch, e.g. a C is always red,
an A is dark blue, an F is green, etc.

Notedrones can be moved to any desired location in the workspace,
allowing you to make layouts by grouping notedrones in any way you like!
For example, chords with the accompanying notes grouped around them.

You can also place notedrones in such a way that they are easily playable by
using your thumbs. E.g. chords on the left side and notes on the right.
Or place them in such a way that they are exactly positioned under
your fingertips and thus playable without having to move your hand.

Creating and deleting notedrones

Making new notedrones is very easy.
Just drag the desired notedrone from the note bar into the workspace.


Depending on whether in single note mode or chord mode,
a note or chord notedrone will appear in the workspace,
where it can be moved to any position.

To delete notedrones, simply drag them back under the toolbar.

Locking notedrones in the workspace

To prevent notedrones from skating away whilst playing,
use the lock button in the upper left corner of the screen.
Locking is cancelled automatically when dragging notedrones
from the notebar into the workspace.


You can play one or more notedrones simultaneously or in sequence by
tapping them. Tapping a notedrone will play it until it is released.

Sliding over or into a notedrone starting outside a notedrone
will play that notedrone sustained and also other notedrones
when subsequently sliding over them in the same stroke.

Tap the workspace surface (not on a notedrone) to mute all notedrones!

Sound modules

As displayed in the functional diagram above,
this app has four completely independent sound modules.

A sound module can play notes internally, using one of the
127 general Midi presets and/or redirect its playing to other
synthesizer apps by sending it Midi commands.

The same sound preset can be assigned to more than one sound module.
This can be useful e.g. when playing chords with one sound module
and single notes with the other, so playing notes will not cancel
out the same note that are part of chords.

The volume for each internal sound module can be adjusted
using the four volume sliders that pop up when touching the
loudspeaker button.



The Toolbars

Each of the revolving toolbars at the top of the screen contains a group
with buttons. In most cases the relevant toolbar will appear automatically,
depending on which mode the app is in. However, if needed,
toolbars can also be switched manually by tapping the arrow
buttons in the upper left and right corners.

The functions for each individual button are described
in detail further down this page.

The Notes and Chords Toolbar


At the top of this toolbar are two rows with chord selection buttons.

Chord type selection
Select the main chord type group (major, minor, augmented, sus, dim, etc.)
on the first row and the actual chord sub-type (e.g. maj, maj 7 maj 9, etc.)
on the second row,

The notebar
At the bottom of the toolbar is the notebar, which is a row with 96 semitones,
spanning 8 octaves. Of course, all these 96 notes do not fit on screen, but you
can slide the notebar horizontally to access the notes in other octaves.
Slide the notebar horizontally just slightly below the notes.
Sliding the notebar to the left will reveal the higher notes and vice versa.

Touching a note in the notebar will sound the note or chord it represents.

Create new notedrones
To create new notes and chords, simply drag a note from the notebar
down into the workspace! A notedrone with a chord or a single note
will then be created,depending on wether the chordBtnChordNoteBtnNoteNote
or note creation modus is selected.

New notedrones will be assigned to the currently selected sound module.
Multitimbral chords, that is chords that contain notes assigned to different
sound modules can only be created as custom chord, as described in more
detail below.

Deleting notedrones
To delete notedrones from the workspace just slide them back under the notebar!

The Files Toolbar


This toolbar contains buttons for saving, loading, sending and clearing workspaces,
generating keyboards, creating random notes and selecting sound.

The Select Mode Toolbar


This toolbar contains buttons that operate on selected notedrones and contains buttons
for copying, cutting, pasting notedrones to and fro the clipboard, transposing pitch of
notes and chords and packing and unpacking chords.

The Recorder Toolbar


RavelNotes provides a very elementary 1 track recorder. Currently,
recordings cannot be saved. This will be improved in a next version of the app.
A full implementation of Inter-App Audio in this app will probably become
available in a next version which allows RavelNotes to be used as an audio
recording source in other hosting apps such as Apple GarageBand.

The Workspace

The workspace is the area where your notedrones appear and can be played.

Move notedrones to any desired position in the workspace, even on top of each other.

Notedrones that overlap are played simultaneously when one of them is tapped.
Use the lock/unlock button in the upper left corner to prevent notes from moving.

The workspace is the major part of the screen, directly under the toolbar.
It is a scrollable area that is ca. 8 times wider and 3 times higher
than what of it is visible on screen.

The workspace area can be moved by dragging its surface,
but you can also use the workspace navigator.

The workspace navigator







The workspace navigator is a small pop up window that shows an image
of the complete workspace, with all the notedrones.

The little white rectangle in the workspace navigator represents the part of
the workspace that is visible on screen. Slide the white rectangle to go
to another part of the workspace.

Playing on iOS synthesizer apps running in the background

Instead of playing sounds on the app’s internal sound generators,
playing notedrones can be redirected to iOS synthesizer apps,
running in the background.
Therefore it is now possible to use the great sound features
that many synthesizer apps have to offer. It also makes it
possible to use the arpeggio mode, available on most synthesizers.

The synthesizer apps running in the background will play
the Midi commands telling it to play notes sent to them by RavelNotes.
This app can address up to four Midi channels simultaneously.

With each synthesizer you would like to attach do the following:

  • Launch the app.
  • Select the Midi channel on which the synthesizer should listen.
  • Make sure “RavelNotes MIDI Source” is the only midi input source.
  • Don’t forget to enable background audio on the synthesizer,
    so it will be audible when RavelNotes is running in the foreground.

After you have done this, launch RavelNotes when it is not already running.

Configure sound routing as described more in detail below for the Preferences button.





This button opens the preferences dialog box, which has three panels:


This panel contains four sliders, one for each sound:
When the slider is on the left the internal sound generator is used.
When moved to the right, sound playing is redirected to a Midi channel.
When the slider is in the middle, internal sounds and Midi send are both active.

Sound to Midi channel

On this panel you can set the Midi send channel on which a synthesizer app
should be listening for each sound module.

Note that it is possible to route more than one sound to the same Midi channel,
so you can have multiple synthesizer apps listing to the same Midi channel.
In the example here, both sound modules 1 and 2 redirect playing to
Midi channel 2 and sound module 2 plays internal sounds and also on Midi.

Modulation and Pitch

Here, you can assign the pitch and modulation sliders to Midi channels,
(Not necessarily the ones assigned to the sounds.)
Also, the modulation and pitch factor can be adjusted here.


Sound module button

This button pops up the  volume sliders for all sound modules.
It also switches the toolbar to the one with sound module related buttons.

BtnNoteNoteto get notes
BtnChordNoteto get chords

Create notenotedrones with chords or single notes button (toggle)

Select with these buttons whether you want to create
notedrones with single notes or notedrones with chords when dragging new notedrones from the toolbar into the workspace.



Toolbar revolving buttons

Use these buttons to revolve between the available toolbars. This is described in detail above in the toolbar section.

BtnCheckMarkOn on


BtnCheckMarkOff off

Select mode button

If select mode is on, notedrones that are touched and not already selected will become selected and vice versa.

Moving (sliding)  a selected note will also move other selected notes, even when located in no-visible parts of the workspace.

When a selected notedrone is deleted by sliding it under the toolbar all other selected notedrones will also be deleted.

When the workspace surface is touched (not on a notedrone) all selected notedrones will be deselected.
Touch the select mode button again or double tap the workspace to cancel selection mode.

The following functions are effective on selected notedrones: cut, copy and paste,transpose and join notes and chords into new custom chords, pack and unpack chords, and changing the sound module to which selected notedrones are assigned to.


Save button

Touch this button to save your workspace in the app’s database.
A dialog box will appear, where you can either enter a new name and description or overwrite an existing saved workspace. Normally all notedrones will be saved, but there is also an option to save only the selected notedrones.

Not only the notedrones are saved but also the currently active soundfonts, volumes and Midi channel configuration.


Load button

When touching this button, a dialog box will appear, providing you with options to reload a previously saved workspace.

The workspace will always be cleared, before reloading takes place.
However, before reloading a copy of the current workspace is automatically saved as “autosave”.

Note that the clipboard is not cleared when reloading, this might be useful when you want to copy the clipboard contents into another workspace.

There is also a button on this dialog box to delete a stored workspace from the database.
Please note that the deletion of a workspace cannot be undone!


Send Workspace button

Share your workspace! Touching this button will pop up a dialog box allowing you to send the current workspace to other RavelNotes users by email.

On this dialog box, optionally replace the default filename with a more sensible one and enter a description. This description will be inserted in the email body text. There’s also a switch which will allow you to send selected notedrones only.

Press the Send button. RavelNotes will now popup an email dialog box for preparing an email, with a file attached to it that contains the workspace data. Specify one or more recipients and optionally add to or change the email text and hit the Send button.

Receiving a workspace

To receive, go to your email app and open an email that has been sent to you by anotherRavelNotes user. There should be a file attached to this email, recognizable by its RavelNotes icon.
Press and hold this and then select “Copy To RavelNotes”. When not already open, RavelNotes will be started and will present a receive dialog. Simply follow the instructions.
If confirmed the the current workspace will be autosaved and the received workspace will replace it.
Note that the received workspace will not automatically be added to the database. Use the normal save method if you wish to store the received workspace in the app’s database.


Clear button

This will clear the current workspace, removing all notes and chords. You can confirm or cancel this operation.
Before clearing, a copy of the workspace is automatically saved as “autosave” which you can reload, if necessary.


Keyboards button

This will show a dialog box where you can select a “keyboard” that will be generated in the workspace.

In the context of this application, a keyboard is a regular pattern of notedrones. Keyboards have only notedrones with single notes, not chords.

Several keyboards are available:
-Hexagonal1 and hexagonal2
(both are isometric keyboards, like on an accordeon);
-Piano (normal or in thumb layout)
-Guitar-like keyboards, or rather, fretboards.

Keyboard notedrones cannot be individually moved, but you can move keyboards in the workspace as a whole. Note that wether or not a keyboard and which type of keyboard is visible is not saved with the the workspace. (this is scheduled to be changed in a later version of this app)

If there are already notedrones present in the workspace, the keyboard will appear less brighter underneath these notedrones to distinct them form the other notedrones.

Keyboards can be removed from the workspace by using the “clear keyboard” button in the keyboard dialog box. Clearing a keyboard will not remove the other notedrones in the workspace.

Especially the hexagonal keyboard variants are surprisingly easy to play, also they have the advantage that more notes fit on a screen compared to a piano keyboard.

RavelNotes’s keyboards can be very useful tools to generate custom chords and notes. In select mode, select the notes on the keyboard that represent a chord and join them into a chord. Guitarists might find the guitar-like keyboards convenient to make chords with.


Random notes button

Touching this button will show a dialog box with options to generate interesting and unexpected combinations of random notes and/or chords. After generating, you can e.g. pick the combinations you like and throw the other ones away.

In the dialog, specify how many notes and or chord notedrones need t be generated and also the octave range.

The generated notes and chords will be placed at random locations in the visible part of the workspace.

Sound module buttonsRavelNotesSoundModuleButtons

The set button.

This  button shows a dialog box where you can assign sound presets to each of the four sound modules

E.g. if you chance sound module 1 from piano to violin,all notedrones created with sound 1 will then play with the violin preset.

Sound presets play only on the internal sound generators independently of what the presets are on synthesizers via Midi channels.

The buttons 1 to 4

Touching one of these buttons will set the currently active sound module.  Any notedrone you create will from then on be assigned to that sound module.

Also, if any notedrones are selected, they will be assigned to that sound module. E.g. if you touch button sound 3 then all selected notedrones will be assigned to sound module 3.
Note that if a selected notedrone contains a multitimbral chord, that is, the chord contains notes that are assigned to different sound modules then this diversity is lost as all inividual notes will be assigned to the same sound module of the button pressed.


Copy button

The copy button copies the selected notedrones to the clipboard. The selected notedrones are not removed from the workspace


Cut button

The cut button moves selected notedrones to the clipboard.
The selected notedrones are removed from the workspace. You can also use this button to delete selected notedrones from the workspace. Note however that this way of deleting notedrones replaces the previous content of the clipboard with the deleted notedrones.


Paste button

The paste button copies the notedrones from the clipboard into the workspace. The contents of the clipboard are thereby retained.

BtnTranspose12Up 1 octave up
BtnTranspose12Down 1 octave down
BtnTranspose1Up 1 semitone upBtnTranspose1Down 1 semitone down

Transpose buttons

Use these buttons to transpose selected notes.

(in this app, transpose = make notes and/or chords higher or lower)






Pack (join) notes into a custom chord

The join button generates a new notedrone containing a custom chord with all the individual notes gathered from all the selected notedrones. Any combination of notes and chords can be combined into a new chord.This operation does not remove the selected notedrones.

Multitimbral chords are allowed, that is the sound numbers assigned to the individual notes, including those notes nested in chords are preserved when joining them.. For example even multitimbral chords addressing different notes in four synthesizers are possible.

Theoretically there is no limit of how many notes can be packed in to a new custom chord, e.g. chords consisting of 30 notes are still playable… However, the practical limit is dictated by your iPad’s capabilities, as of course, all notes inside a chord have to be played simultaneously.







Unpack chord into notes

This button unpacks selected notedrones. It generates a new notedrone for each single note it finds. The sound number of the individual notes are preserved. You can unpack more than one chord at the same time.

This operation does not remove the selected notedrones.


Workspace navigator button

The workspace is much larger than the iPad display. This button (in the bottom right corner) pops up the workspace navigator which shows a miniaturized overview of the entire workspace.

You can navigate to the desired area in the workspace by moving the small white rectangle inside the navigator. You can also scroll the workspace by unlocking it with the button in the lower left corner, as described in the next section.



Lock/unlock button

The one at the upper left corner:

Use this button to “freeze” notedrones at their current position in the workspace. This prevents notedrones from skating away whilst playing. Unlock with this same button to allow moving the notedrones again.

Please note that locking is also cancelled when dragging notedrones from the note bar into the workspace.

The one in the bottom left corner

Use this button to lock or unlock scrolling of the workspace. You can also use the overview button,
as described in detail above.


Recorder buttons

Touch the record button to record what you are playing. Touches on notedrones are recorded as events in time. Previous recordings are erased when the record button is touched.
The rewind button “rewinds” to the beginning of a track (in this lite version only a single track is available)
Touch the play Touch the stop/pause button top stop playing.

Notes and Recommendations

Tips for musicians

Especially when performing with a band, you could create
and save a workspace with the specific chords and preferences
for each song you play.

RavelNotes sounds really cool on stage, especially in combination
with the excellent synthesizer apps available for iOS! Of course
nothing prevents you to route your iPad sound through
effect pedals etc.

Suggestions for learning how to play

Never made music before? A nice way to learn it is to play along with music
e.g. Apple Radio on Apple Music running in the background. Play with
whatever (unexpected) song comes along. Even when never done so,
at some time you will get it right! It’s great fun and improves your musical hearing.

Another nice way to get started: even if you have never made music before
is, for example, to look on the internet and find the chords of
your favorite song. You’ll see chords like C, G, Am, F, G7..
Simply drag those chords from the notebar into the workspace, play them and
perhaps sing along! Then later, add the single notes that form the lead melody,
preferably with a different preset or via midi channels to synthesizer apps
running in the background. The great advantage of this app is that you can play
chords with just one fingertip, instead of using all fingers to just get one
right on a conventional keyboard or guitar…

And of course, play together with friends, also on stage.

Limited note range with some GM sound presets

Please note that some presets,for example the violin, and also
on synthesizers,have a smaller range than the available eight octaves..
Therefore notes outside of the soundfont range are silent when played.
Nevertheless, they are still made available, because if you change these
notedrones to another preset with a larger or total range than that
of the current preset they will sound again.

About multitasking gestures

In this app you can play many notedrones simultaneously.
Because of this, often there will be more than four of your fingers
touching the screen at the same time. When Multitasking Gestures is on,
this could lead unintentionally to moving to other apps or returning
to the home screen. Therefore, it is recommended to disable multitasking
gestures when using this app.

You can however still switch conveniently between active apps by pressing
the iPad’s Home button twice in rapid succession

Application performance

This app’s memory requirement is moderate, however in some cases,
you can increase this apps performance by closing all other apps whilst playing.
To close other apps, press the iPad’s Home button twice in rapid succession
and swipe away the apps you’d wish to close.

Idea, concept, design, graphics and programming by
Ted van Gaalen.

Last but not least, make this world a better place.
Be nice and social to each other!

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