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Polynome App for iOS

The Polynome is a metronome app designed and built by UK based drummer Joe Crabtree, who’s currently playing with Wishbone Ash, as well as a respected teacher. 

When you think about what a standard physical metronome does, it’s nothing more than a time keeper, providing a calculated even pulse for you to play to and if they’re half decent you can change the sound a little and add subdivisons.

The modern apps generally don’t do a whole lot more than that although they may add support for set lists and odd time signatures. 

Where the Polynome is different is that it seeks to take advantage of the almost limitless possibilities that a software programme allows. 

Let’s break down the name to begin with “Poly-nome”. Most drummers are familiar with the term polyrhythm and the underlying idea of being able to play more than one rhythm at once. 

Until now a metronome could only provide a basic pulse, but with the Polynome, you can actually programme two entire separate time signatures to play over the top of each other. 

Each of these time signatures can be subdivided into all the possible note combinations including broken 16th combinations, triplets etc.

This makes, for example, programming in a simple 3 over 4 polyrhythm an easy task and you can then work with it to internalise the rhythms. 

You can assign different sounds and accents as well as sticking ideas to the rhythms you’ve programmed and should you find your rhythm runs over a few bars before resolving, that’s no problem because the Polynome allows for multiple bars to be programmed in. 

I’m actually more than a little impressed by this metronome and as a teacher myself I’ve found it’s really handy for programming in a quick phrase for students to work alongside, helping them to absorb the subdivisions and rhythms they’re working on.

There are a lot of features besides this, such as pre-programmed ideas to acquaint you with odd time meters, styles and so on; they include a great odd time funk rhythm in 9/8!

Since I began reviewing the app there have been some updates to the developer version which I have been granted access to and although I haven’t noticed any bugs, it’s nice to know that Joe hasn’t sat back and is constantly looking to improve the app when something comes to mind or is brought to his attention.

I wouldn’t know where to begin with building an app, but I’m pretty sure it’s not something that you can put together in an afternoon with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive.

Polynome will actually log your practise for you as well. It counts not just the time you have spent running it, but also the time for the tempo you’re currently working on and tells you which tempo you spend the most time working on as well as a bunch of other stats. It will even give you a push notification if you don’t log any practise to encourage you to get to the kit. 

It’ll even show you charts. Charts of your practise… Never have I even thought of that and to be honest, it’s not a make or break featurette, but I love a chart and it is interesting to glance at if nothing else. 

Had a good session or found a particular tempo and idea that catches you out? You can take a note in the app. There’s even a mixer so you can add sounds to the rhythms and then mix them to your liking. 

These are all little features, but they add up to an app that can truly be considered a fantastic practise companion. 

There was a feature where you could have the numbers flashing on screen in a big obvious way. I liked this but that seems to have been removed in the more recent updates. I liked this Joe, please bring it back!

I did email Joe and ask him about support on Android devices as I had just changed across. Sadly it seems development for now is solely on iOS devices with no plans to develop on other operating systems. I guess I’d better take the new phone back and change it for an iPhone as I really, REALLY like this app!

As far as apps go, it isn’t the cheapest metronome but it’s certainly not expensive, especially when you compare the £6 it costs to an actual metronome like the Tama RhythmWatch which is about £60 (10x the price!) and it’s a no brainer; Polynome wins every time. 

Hats off to Joe for designing and building this app from scratch, mostly to satisfy his own requirements I’m sure, but in doing so he’s created a fantastic little tool which you should definitely check out.

Rob Crisp

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