Earthsea performance techniques

I want a make a thread dedicated to Earthsea, or I suppose anyone using a Monome grid as a pitch controller, Is anyone else using Earthsea as their main live input controller? I regularly play 3-4 hour jams with my band predominately using Earthsea, and I want to start improving my technique.

I’m actually not making much use of the 3 CVs out at all, mostly just POS and EDGE. I do sometimes make use of it’s looping abilities, but I generally need to keep up with tempo changes from my bandmates, so that’s more for a chaotic effect or minimal ambiance. My main difficulty with the 3 CVs outs is that I’ll accidentally trigger a shape memory by rapidly pressing two keys as notes, and sometimes end up with surprising changes in my tone.

But mostly I was curious if anyone has any fingering exercises they practice on Earthsea? I’ve wanted to start dedicating myself to this controller more, and create some Hanon-style exercises. I tend to use two hands with my knuckles facing each other, my thumbs playing lower notes and my ring and pinky fingers playing higher notes. I’m especially interested in getting myself to the point of playing blazing fast jazz licks, like in bebop.

One thing I really enjoy on Earthsea is how easily you can play a pattern and then transpose it across the grid (manually, with your hands :wink:). Also the range of octaves under a small area is pretty unique to the device, and I’m trying to make more use of wide ranging intervals.

Also, what key-mappings do people use? I just highlight octaves right now, but I’ve experimented with highlighting pentatonic or whole-tone scales, but it feels a little too busy.


I like patterns that include changes in CV from the finger combos. Try using the CV controls to mix different levels of waveform types, or opening / closing filters or wave folders / shapers. It ends up making the patterns really interesting. There’s another earthsea discussion floating around, I picked up :arrow_double_up: idea from @shellfritsch, who was (still is?) a big Earthsea user.

Great module, very different approach to sequencing that I think is pretty unique in the sequencer field. I also love the “no clock” concept, patterns end up sounding natural. Really love it.

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I use Earthsea a lot (though I don’t really play live). I had been kind of cheating by playing it through a uScale which made me lazy about learning it as an instrument but also meant I could use Shapes to change intervals on chords which is a cool trick. I’ve actually taken the uScale out of my case for now and need to programme something on the Teletype.

I’ve also mapped octaves onto the grid which is helping me play in scale without a quantiser. Anything more feels too busy for sure. I mainly play with my right hand in a diagonal position - forefinger to the bottom left - little finger to top right. Add a few notes with my left hand as needed.

Interesting that you want to play jazz chops with it! Do you find the grid responsive/fast enough? I probably need to practice more but I do find it’s not quite responsive enough for that level of playing.

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yeah i love earthsea! as @cmcavoy mentioned, i like to use it to subtly modify voice timbres so that i can get more expression from a line. i also use octave markers to keep scale reference.
lately i’ve been having fun using teletype to clock and reset earthsea. i have some scripts set up that turn clocking on and off (controlled by a usb numpad) so i can quickly write patterns. it’s a great way to enter & store a handful of sequences for a live set.


I’ve been interested in Earthsea for a while so I’m interested to hear how people are using it.

Nice! Earthsea was my first monome module, and I found the clocking thing kind of odd at first, but I need to spend more time with it. I now have a Teletype, too, and have been meaning to play with having the TT play/reset the loops in Earthsea.

there is much fun to be had:

  1. adding resets to an irregularly played pattern introduces all sorts of personality. i recommend patching in an external clock source (or mapping the param knob) so you can dial in your “loop” by hand.

  2. when clocking ES via TT you step through the notes and the spaces between them. if you add in some probability and/or delays you can really get some interesting lines.


My Earthsea doesn’t have the ic2 connectors on the back – I’m not experienced with a soldering iron so I’ve been reluctant to try it out on my favorite module :speak_no_evil: Does anyone has a guide for doing this?

it’s just 3 solder joints. you got this :slight_smile:


Here’s the part if you need it.

A beginner like me had no problems :slight_smile:

That’s a me!

AFA finger exercises, after struggling with one hand now I just use two a la hunt-and-peck. I’m not playing anything too fast so it’s not a problem.

Earthsea is genius.

I like looping a shortish phrase, maybe 6 notes, and manually playing notes to accompany or accent parts of the phrase. I like how ES likes to operate outside of the clock but I would really like my other modules to take their timing from ES. I’ve been feeling for a while that TT is in my future and this is just another reason why that’s probably so.

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I do think the idea of ES clocking other stuff is interesting. I remember coming up with a neat patch a year ago (never recorded sadly) where I used the Edge out from ES to clock the 4ms Dual Looping Delay and then experimented until I found nice divisions and used the loop outs for the two channels to clock batumi and something else.

what exactly are these … octave markers? i am getting better at playing earthsea but sometimes my eyes play tricks on me and i forget where i am on the grid. would be awesome to have something equivalent to fret dots to keep me in key.

edit: figured it out… wow game changer :star_struck: