Pixound 2.0 Instructions, Troubleshooting and Tips

Pixound is a tool and a deep toy. It's main purpose is to delight the user but can be used for serious music as well. Pixound translates color into music. Think of it as a Red, Green and Blue "trio" you control by touching colors with added accompaniment from bass and drums. In general, brighter shades produce higher notes and darker, lower notes. Black and white are reserved as "rest" colors and are thus silent.

PLEASE USE HEADPHONES OR STEREO SPEAKERS! You will miss most of what Pixound does through the tiny iPhone speakers.

Difference Between Free Version and Unlocked Version: If you purchased pixound before you will automatically be unlocked. The Free version can play the main screen, and 2 stock presets and any presets that people send you that don't used songs you haven't unlocked yet. However, in the Free version you can't change settings, save new presets or share presets with others.

For starters, we highly recommend playing with the presets. Touch theicon in the upper left. After playing with these you can start to mess with the settings such as changing instruments and song progressions, etc. Then you can save your settings as new presets.

Pixound is played in three different ways (video Pixound adds another):

  1. Move finger over picture in regular mode. You can leave your finger in contact or jump around to different areas to break up the music (add rests).
  2. Using Autoplay which can be adjusted in the Pixound Settings panel and using your finger to change the area
  3. + Using Autoplay and finger play in combination.

Lift finger to stop playing in regular mode. While in Autoplay mode, use finger to adjust autoplay area. Quick touch moves the area or drag to readjust. Multi-touch is not supported for playing in non-pro version. While in Autoplay mode, use finger to adjust autoplay area. Quick touch moves the area or drag to readjust. When Autoplay is active, tap the icon to switch to play-along method.

Bottom Tool Bar
Brings up the Settings Controller. Touch and slide up to toggle the Tempo Controller. To use Tempo Controller, touch tempo and slide up or down to adjust or tap on the tempo in a regular rhythm and pixound will calculate the Beats Per Minute (BPM) from your tapping.
Toggles Autoplay on/off
Toggles song progression on/off. Touch and slide up to toggle single-shot or song loop mode. When in single-shot mode, all play will stop at the end of the song.
Toggles Bass on/off
Toggles Drums on/off
Slows down beat value (makes longer) or slide finger to adjust autoplay jump value down.
Speeds up beat value (makes shorter) or slide finger to adjust autoplay jump value up.
Toggles Pause/Play

Other Home Screen Icons
Shows/Hides the Piano Keyboard or Mixer. Touch and slide upward to switch modes between transposer and mixer.
Shows/Hides toolbar
Brings up Preset Controller
Controls Recording and Playback

Settings Controller

Sounds Settings Panel

Use this panel to select the main sounds for the four voices Red, Green, Blue and Bass. Current sound choices are displayed up top.

Select which voice set you want to change. 1 is for the finger play voices and 2 is for the autoplay voices.

Select color you want to change sound for Red, Green, Blue or Bassthen below select the desired choice by scrolling and then touching a selection. It is selected when it appears above in the list. Use Low, Middle and High to change the base octave of a voice.

Use to randomly choose instruments for the currently selected voice set (1 or 2).

Use to set them all to the same instrument.

Use to hear current sound orto hear all sounds together.

Music Settings Panel

Use this panel to control various musical settings including:

Song Progression: choose from available chord progressions. Some of these progressions will cause the current scale or mode and key to change on a specific beat, others will keep the current scale or mode and just change key. Turn on or off with switch. Experiment!

Scale/Mode: choose from over 60 available tonal modalities from Chromatic which has all 12 Western notes to Pentatonic for a more Eastern sound to everything in between. Modes can greatly effect the feel of the music from happy to sad to bizarre and all sorts of other things.

Key: use this slider to adjust the key and octave the music plays in. When in Song Play Mode, this transposes the whole song to another key but the internal chords of the song work as expected.

High and Low Note Limiters: use these sliders to limit how high or low you want pixound to play. Notes above the limit are adjusted by octaves until they are inside the limit.

Keyboard: Normally, keep the keyboard on Transposer which simply changes the current key of what is playing. Using Autoharp mode cn produce some interesting effects but you really need to use autoplay and turn song mode off to appreciate it. If you are using this mode and you don't hear any sound it's because you have no piano keys depressed or locked on (slide to lock).

Rhythm Settings Panel

Use this panel to control Tempo, Beat Values, Bass and Drums.

Tempo: set the Beats Per Minute (BPM) using this slider or type it into the number field by touching the number.

Beat Value: this determines how long each note is held before pixound tries to play another note. This is independent of the Tempo.

Pulse: this takes the current beat value and divides it different ways to create straight, swing (triplet) and shuffle (dotted) timing

Drums: select from numerous stock drum patterns

Bass: select from numerous stock bass patterns. These patterns may behave differently depending on if certain songs are playing.

Groove: Moving this slider will cause alternate beats to move closer to a triplet feel (ie. swing)

Pixound Settings Panel

Use this panel to control Autoplay settings, Color Tolerance and Effects or to access Credits and Instructions.


When autoplay is on, a small transparent "ball" will move around and play instead of your finger. When autoplay is on, your finger is used to drag and change the area or path or to move an autoplay area.

When the icon is visible (upper left) it means you can select the autoplay area. When the icon is visible it means your finger will play along with the autoplay (independently but on the same beat). Tap the icon to switch between modes.

Autoplay Type:

  • Horizontal: moves from left to right and back to left in current rectangle (drag select in image)
  • Vertical: moves from top to bottom and back to top
  • Zigzag: moves from left to right back and forth
  • Circular: moves in an oval shape around current selected area
  • Orbital: moves in circular orbit around finger
  • Drawn path: follows any path that you draw with your finger, no matter how long you make it.
  • Tilt: uses the accelerometer to measure the iPhone or iPad tilt.
  • Bounce: Use your finger to bounce the autoplay off the sides like a ball, slowly or quickly
  • Random: selectes random points in the current rectangle

Autoplay Jump: use this to control how far the autoplay stylus moves on each beat value. In circular mode, it jumps further around the oval the higher the numbers. Use + and - to adjust jump while playing.

Color Tolerance: this controls how pixound reacts to "new " colors. When tolerance is high, it takes a more drastic color change to cause new musical notes to trigger so it has the effect of sustaining notes more often. Presets may change the tolerance in ways that can't be adjusted manually.

Color Mode: this controls how pixound interprets color information. When in RGB Mode, Red, Green and Blue voices interact according to relative brightness of these components. In Hue Mode pixound uses the Hue to control the notes so it interprets the color spectrum in a pure way where Red is low and Violet is high. The music produced in Hue Mode tends to be simpler and RGB is best in most situations but it really depends on the image.

Reverb and Chorus: use these sliders to add standard effects to the RGB and Bass voices (drums too for Reverb).

Magnifier: Use this to turn on a little magnifier area that appears at the top of the play screen. This allows you to see details that are hidden under your finger.

Image Selection Panel

Use this panel to select one of the stock gallery images or select a photo from your Photo Library or Take a Picture and play it immediately. You can also go to your normal camera and take pictures that can be played in pixound.

Using Presets

Clicking the Presets icon on the home screen will take you to the Presets Panel. Here you can select from the stock presets provided, save, replace and delete other presets you have made or select additional Presets we will offer later in the iTunes Store. You will have to update your App to take advantage of this feature in early 2012. Stock and Purchased Presets offer unique settings that can't be controlled via normal Settings Controls, including alternate sounds, songs, drums, effects and many other interesting parameters.

The large Home button at the top of Presets has 3 areas that will allow you to change scale quickly. The left square puts you in Chromatic, the middle section in Ionian (Do re mi) and the right Square Pentatonic. If you are in Song Mode, these scales will not apply.

To Manage new or old Presets, tap on the Folder icon on the top bar. You can replace a Preset with your current settings by selecting on an existing Preset in the scrolling list. Once a Preset is selected you can also delete it. Stock and Paid presets can't be deleted.

If you Unlock the full version you can share presets and recordings with other Pixound Users or email them to yourself for backup. If you bought the MIDI export module, you can also send MIDI files of your recordings which can be opened in other programs and edited. These presets can also be shared as downloadable links online. Just leave the .pxdpreset extension on the file name.

Use the UNLOCK or MORE button to access additional functionality via purchase. Things you can currently purchase include:

  • Unlock Full Version: allows controlling all settings, saving and sharing presets
  • Preset Pack 2: unlocks full version (extra value), unlocks 10 new presets and 12 new songs including the powerful "Mystery" preset that randomly sets all sorts of parameters and chooses from over 60 hidden pictures. Other presets include: Rocks, Prelude, Hot Jazz, Raga, Dub, Surreal, Moonlight, Funky Hat and Fractal music
  • MIDI File Save: unlocks the ability to save your recordings as 11 track MIDI files. These files can be shared and opened in other programs such as GarageBand where you can assign new instruments and edit them.

Piano Keyboard

The slide-out transparent Piano is primarily used for transposing the current key. You can change the active Octave of this keyboard by touching the Arrows on either end. If you touch them without sliding your finger, the keyboard octave changes and you will see the current octave on the lower left where Middle C is 4. However, the actual key change won't take place until you touch a key on the piano. To instantly change octaves in the same key, Slide your finger up after you touch the arrow.

Autoharp Mode: when you are in this mode, the piano is multi-touch and controls the actual notes pixound is allowed to play. If no note is selected, nothing will play. If you have a C and a G selected, pixound will play various octaves of those two notes. You can toggle a note on by touching and sliding your finger on a piano key. This mode is best used with autoplay.

Volume Mixer

The slide-out transparent Mixer is primarily used for setting the relative volumes of the 5 main voices as well as a Master Mix. The mixer sliders are color coded Red, Green and Blue for the main voices and Yellow for Bass and Orange for Drums and White for Master. To turn a voice off touch it's color and slide down to bottom.

Recording and Playback
At any time, you can commence recording what you are playing, including your movements by tapping the red circle. It will turn into a flashing square to indicate recording. Tapping this square will stop recording. Then you will see the Playback Arrow illuminated. Tapping this will play back your performance exactly as you played it, and other playing will not be heard such as drums and bass. You can share these performances with other pixound users if you have purchased the full version.


When you first start using pixound, it will give you some guidance at the top of the screen. Just click on the prompt to make it disappear. It will stop prompting you as you gain more experience.

Make Regular Back-ups

Make sure to back up your phone and its data regularly, especially when you do software updates. This way any settings you have saved as presets will be preserved.


No sound: Make sure phone volume is up and switched into non-silent mode if not using headphones (not recommended). Make sure you are not in Autoharp mode with no piano keys highlited. Make sure Master Mix is not down all the way.

Restart pixound: Go to home screen and double click home button. Scroll to pixound icon in bar that appears and hold finger on icon until X appears to Close App.

Pixound Updates and Other Versions

Keep an eye on your app updates as we anticipate making regular improvements to pixound. We will also be releasing a series of related apps which you might enjoy as well as additional content for pixound such as new songs, presets, drums and sounds. The plan is to make a Pro Version which will include: multi-touch, video and recording/sharing. Techné Media has plans for several other mind-expanding Apps so keep checking on occasion. Thanks!

email: pixound [at] technemedia.com

Techné Media — The Science of Art™