Basic Operations

The following basic operations should be reasonably self-explanatory to a musician randomly mashing buttons in the UI. "+" means add a thing. Melodies and Sections, as you conventionally understand them, are named as such. See the Detailed Overview for more information.

  1. Creating and Managing Scores/Palettes (not supported in Pre-Release)
  2. Creating and Editing Melodies
    • Melodic vs. Drum Melodies
    • Length and Subdivisions Per Beat
    • Fixed Position vs. Relative to Chord (not supported in Pre-Release)
  3. Editing the Harmony of a Section
  4. Creating and Managing Sections
  5. Creating and Managing Parts
    • Melodic vs. Drum Parts
  6. Copying and Pasting/Sharing (not supported in Pre-Release)
    • Melodies
    • Harmonies
    • Chords
    • Sections (Duplicating)
    • Palettes
  7. Playing and Managing On-Screen Instruments
    • External MIDI Controllers

Composing Operations

The basic operations above can be combined to do a lot of things musicians do in songs:
  • Duplicate Section and change main Melody (for your second, third, etc. verses)
  • Duplicate Melody and make half-time/double-time
  • Duplicate Section/Harmony and change last few chords (e.g., half-cadence to full cadence, or verse to pre-chorus)

Detailed Overview

BeatScratch's primary document (the thing you're always editing, that it is auto-saving) is called a Score (Palette before the pre-release). The format for this document is designed so that not only can Sections of music be repeated, but musical themes can be repeated on top of new Harmonies. (The pre-release does not support Harmony editing; everything is based on a "C Chromatic" chord for now). This happens to make music straightforward to edit with your thumbs. (Or, in the pre-release, to edit by playing on-screen or connected instruments.)

At its root, a Palette is divided up into just Parts and Sections. A Part is what you intuitively think it is: Piano, Alto, Soprano, Euphonium, Drums, etc. A Section might be a Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Sonata Theme, Transition, Retransition, Recapitulation. However fancy and European you want to get, it's important to note that every Section has a Harmony. The rest of the high-level structure follows:

  • A Score has:
    • Parts. A Part has:
      • An Instrument, like Drums, Guitar, or Piano.
      • Melodies.
    • Sections. A Section has:
      • A Harmony.
      • Melody References.
        • References a Melody from a Part (via internal IDs).
        • Has a Volume.

BeatScratch's notion of a Melody is chromatic, meaning it can be all 12 notes you could play. However, BeatScratch always has a "Harmony" in place and can make any Melody conform to any Harmony in countless ways, both in terms of notes and rhythm. Atop this, a Palette/Score is primarily divided two ways: into Parts and Sections.


A Part is an Instrument patch and a list of Melodies. Note that this means Melodies cannot be shared between Parts; however, Melodies may be copied between Parts. It is the BeatScratch analogue to your Bassoon III Part. (Well, maybe a unified multi-voice Bassoon I, II and II part.)

  • Harmonic Parts: Can add up to 8 (7 if a drum track is being used). Will be mapped to MIDI channels according to their order.
  • Drum Parts: BeatScratch will only let you add one of these. Always maps to MIDI channel 10.


A Section is a Harmony and a list of Melody References. It is the analogue to a single Chorus, Verse, Bridge, Exposition, Development — however you choose to structure your music.

  • Melody References are references to Melodies from the Parts list. However, a Melody Reference can have its own volume (and eventually transposition and other) that is section-specific. (Changes to the base structure of a Melody would affect all Sections that reference that Melody.)
  • Eventually repeats of/between Sections are planned; feedback on use cases is appreciated!

Pallette UI

  • On-Screen Instruments

    • Keyboard: Can be used to play any Part, including Drum parts. Can play notes outside of the current Chord. Used to specify custom chords along with the Orbifold. Move up and down by swiping from the left/right edges.
    • Colorboard (disabled by default in Pre-Release): Can only play Melodic Parts, and only notes in the current Chord. Move up and down by pointing the device up and down.
    • Orbifold (not in Pre-Release):: Can only play Melodic Parts, and only notes in the current Chord. Used in choosing Chords for the Harmony.
  • Section List

    • Select a Section by clicking it.
    • Create a new Section with the "+" button.
    • Long click to rename, delete, copy/paste Harmonies between, and Duplicate Sections.
    • Drag and drop to reorder.
  • Harmony (not modifiable in pre-release)

    • Click to playback from a point and select that Chord.
    • Long-press to select a point in time and add a Chord change, remove the current Chord change, or change the Chord at that point.
    • While editing a Chord, click another Chord to copy it.
    • There must always be at least one Chord in the Harmony.
  • Part List

    • Part Name/Instrument
      • Click to change Instrument (Melodic Parts)
    • Melody References
      • Enable/disable a Melody Reference for a Section with the left button.
      • Open a Melody by clicking it.
      • Create a new Melody with the "+" button.
      • Drag and drop to reorder.
  • Palette Toolbar

    • Contains Playback controls and On-Screen Instrument toggles
    • Tap the tempo button in time to set the tempo; long-press it to set the numerical value with precision.
    • The Volume button lets you customize volumes of Parts (which is universal) and Melody References (which are Section-specific).