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Mandala Music HD for iPad

Originally inspired by the Hang drum, Mandala Music is a new kind of musical instrument for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The instrument consists of eight keypads arranged in a circle or mandala around a central pad (corresponding to the "ding" on a Hang drum). Tapping on a keypad produces a tone. Tapping multiple keypads produces multiple tones.

Where a Hang drum is tuned to one and only one scale when it is made, any of the thirty-three preset musical scales used in first-generation Hang drums can be mapped to the mandala, as well as up to eight scales that you can create and save. The lowest note is in the center, followed in increasing pitch from the top, alternating back and forth, down to the bottom.

Compared to a square grouping of control pads, or even a keyboard on smaller devices like an iPhone or iPod, the circular arrangement is much easier to play. In fact by mapping a scale to the control pads there are, in effect, no wrong notes. A 2-oscillator FM synthesizer provides a wide range of sounds and effects, from soothing to bizarre.

This document describes the iPad version of the app. The iPhone/iPod version differs in functionality from the iPad version and is described elsewhere.

The top control bar selects four control views.


Scale selects the pattern of musical notes assigned to the pads of the mandala. There are 33 scales you can choose from:

  1. Aeolian (Greece)
  2. Ake Bono (Japan)
  3. Banshiki-Cho (Japan)
  4. Dorian
  5. Harmonic minor
  6. Hitzaz (Arabia)
  7. Hitzazkiar (Arabia/Persia)
  8. Hungarian major
  9. Huzam (Greece)
  10. Ionian (Western major)
  11. Kokin-Choshi (Japan)
  12. Kourd-Atar (Arabia/India)
  13. Lydian
  14. Minor pentatonic (W. Africa)
  15. Neveseri (Greece)
  16. Niavent (Egypt)
  17. Pentatonic
  18. Pentatonic (China)
  19. Purvi (India)
  20. Pygmy (Rwanda)
  21. Rumanikos (Greece)
  22. Sabah (Greece)
  23. Segiah (Greece)
  24. Sho (Japan)
  25. Locrian
  26. Mixolydian
  27. Pyeong Jo (Korea)
  28. Shang-Diao (China)
  29. Magen Abot (Jewish)
  30. Noh (Japan)
  31. Zokuso (Japan)
  32. Melog/Selisir
  33. Phrygian
Use the "<" and ">" buttons to change the scale. The "SHOW NOTES" switch turns the note names on/off. The "+semi tone" and "-semi tone" buttons raise/lower the scale by one semi tone. All tracks use the same scale setting.


Timbre changes the quality of the sound produced when you tap a pad. There are 16 preset sounds and 12 user-defined sounds. Use the "<" and ">" buttons to change the sound. "Use "COPY" and "PASTE" to copy/paste sounds between locations. Additionally, you must tap "CUT" and "PASTE" to automatically save any changes made to user-defined settings. Preset sounds are write protected.

The following controls change the timbre of the sound produced by the app:

  • DECAY - Changes the decay time of the sound - short, medium, and long
  • HARMONICS - frequency ratio of the FM synthesizer - 1:3, 1:2, 2:3, 1:1, 1:1~, 4:3, 5:3, 2.1~, and 2:1 (~ means slightly detuned). This setting changes the color (harmonic content) of the sound. For example, 4:3 and 5:3 ratios produce non-integer harmonic bell-like timbres. 2:1 generates odd harmonics like woodwinds. 1:1 produces full harmonic spectra like brass instruments.
  • MODULATION - modulation index - off, small, medium, high, and extreme. Increasing the modulation index causes higher frequency harmonics to be generated resulting in more complex sounds. The extreme setting generates "dirty" noise-like timbres.
  • DYNAMICS - how harmonics change after a pad is tapped. "+" settings cause the modulation index to decrease from the above value to zero at different rates. "-" settings cause the modulation index to increase from zero to the specified modulation level.
  • REGISTER (OCTAVE SHIFT) - increase/decrease the pitch of the scale in octave increments
Since Mandala Music is designed to function like a struck instrument like a hang drum there is no control over the attack as in a more general synthesizer.

Each track has its own timbre which is automatically saved when the app is closed.


Rhythm controls affect how a sequence of notes (loop) is stored and played back. A loop can have 1-128 beats/measure with any of the predefined tempos (beats/minute or BPM). All loops have the same BPM but can have a different number of beats/measure. Creating loops with different beats/measure produces complex poly-rhythmic sounds.

When "LOOP" is on, a series of notes will begin to repeat automatically after one measure of silence. The quantizer "cleans up" rhythmic patterns by rounding note values to 16th note triplets (6), 16th notes (4), triplets (3), eighth notes (2), and quarter notes (1).

Each track can have its own timbre and rhythm. The track control bar choose one of four tracks (current track). Timbre and rhythm controls affect the current track. The sliders below the track bar control the volume of the track when it is played back. The switches turn tracks on/off (mute).

The reverb sliders change the delay and depth of the reverb effect, which produces the illusion of space.


Sound controls let you record, save, and share mandala music. Tap "RECORD" to record your music. Audio files are stored in .caf format. (The recorder does a short fade-in/fade-out.)

"LISTEN" plays back previous recordings. Although you can play along with previously recorded music that is being played back you cannot add "sound on sound".

Tap "SHARE" to email a caf file. Recordings may also be downloaded to your computer via iTunes file sharing.

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