Monome Beginner Questions

Hey all, Very beginner questions here.

I’m very interested in getting a monome – at the moment I mostly intend to just use applications that have already been created. Will I need to purchase Max to use these?

When it comes to purchasing Max, will I be able to get standalone Max if I download Ableton Suite? Or would it make more sense to buy Standalone max, and then get a cross grade license?

Overall, I’m having some troubles navigating the best way to get into getting started with a monome. Many thanks.

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if you’re interested in using standalone max apps you won’t need to buy anything ! for some you will need to download the max trial.

to use ableton devices you’ll need to buy max for live

Is there a “guide” to Monome anywhere?

You’re soaking in it :stuck_out_tongue:


there’s The Monome Docs which contain a lot of good practical information for getting started, as well as some of the computer-based Monome apps. As @okyeron points out, an open-source movement with so many active participants is always gonna have some more ephemeral knowledge that won’t get codified till much later.


Ahhh this is amazing! Thanks so much for teaching me how to fish Monome style to feed my creative curiosity!

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i just joined the monome world and haven’t touched max or programming yet and i’m having a wonderful time. highly recommended.


Max for Live and Max differences are highlighted here:

So standalone max is it’s own product (you could get the cross grade) details: however after suite and the crossgrade you’ve sunk around $900.

So it’s probably best to note that unless you’ve been eye-ing ableton live suite for a while it’s a pretty large cost (all for about a $100 saving) vs. a monthly license to max or any of the following payment options:

$399 PAID ONCE Max 8 Permanent License
$99 PER YEAR Max Annual Subscription
$9.99 PER MONTH Max Monthly Subscription

** there’s also student discounts for both products if you are in school or an educator


@tehn, it just occurred to me that it would be really nice to have a “history of monome” page somewhere on the web… I’d be interested in helping out with that.


Thanks everyone for the clarification! I think i’ll pick one up then and start messing around with it, and worry about max later once i have my feet wet.

Seems like most of the stuff i want to do is using the standalone apps. Would be fun to start messing around with creating my own patches too, but its good to know that i don’t need to pay for Max in order to use these apps.

Is Max pretty intuitive when it comes to designing your own patches?

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Max is designed to be able to learn on your own. Every object has a little “help patcher” that gives some pointers and examples for how to use it. If you’ve ever patched a modular synth before, you’ll be somewhat at home with the workflow. That and it’s fun to dream up something and be able to sketch something that works!

All that being said, it is definitely a learning curve—Max is a programming language of sorts, and there are a lot of objects. Plenty of resources, many of them free, are happy to explain part of Max before, but just like anything worthwhile it will take some time and practice before things click.


Just jumped into the monome world and feelin the same. Wondering if there have been many efforts to improve the UX of onboarding people to the monome community. I myself just obsessively read and re-read things that I want to learn but I’m aware alot of people get frustrated and give up alot easier with the jumping between lines threads, github and the monome website docs. At present moment the knowledge base is a bit fragmented and requires a number of prerequisites.

With the open source nature of all the amazing work that Monome does I imagine its a bit difficult to write things in stone and I dont think they ( @tehn & co ) are designing for a wide audience, but if there was an effort to make something cohesive I would be very willing to add my design skills to the task (I’m a freelance interaction designer for my day job)


I’m finding this difficult as well and would be most grateful for a more robust and detailed yet logically sequenced set of instructions that start with the assumption that the reader is essentially clueless…

Or failing that, at least some kind of structured information pointing to the basic knowledge needed to even get started making sense of the various aspects…

for example, I don’t even know how to open a terminal session on my MacBook… much less code or script in lua, supercollider, max, etc…

My experience in music is 45 plus years, and over 30 with synths, over 15 with Ableton… so it’s not a matter of inability to learn things, but more lack of experience with some of the core skills that are so gloriously in evidence among the Lines “elders” if you will…

Working 50-60 hours a week leaves little time for acquiring new core skills, so anything that could help accelerate the process would be brilliant…



From this quote I’d hazard a guess that a structured set of links to help topics which cover the basics, not specifically created by the Lines or Monome communities, would be a good starting point for you. And once you have that down you’ll be able to ask more specific questions.

For the Terminal head here:

For Lua start here:

For SuperCollider I love these:

I find the best way to learn anything new is to break it down into its component parts, and focus on them as individual pieces which can be brought together later. Otherwise it’s too much.

Also set yourself a goal. To create a drone engine in SC, which you’ll control in the grid with Max or whatever. That will focus you on learning just what you need to, you’ll achieve a result faster, which will encourage you to carry on.

And don’t be scared of asking questions. Create a thread about your project, share the files, get input. That way we can all chip in and learn as we go. I’m up for learning Max and I’d support helping to build something so we can both learn. For Lua, I’d be more than willing to build and share as I go.

It can be a very steep and large hill to climb. I find myself keen thinking about selling my gear and buying ready made stuff, but with the Monome hardware you get much more out of it, it’s really worth the time to learn.

Sorry I can’t give more links I’m on a mobile on a packed train and it’s friday night and I’m knackered :slight_smile:


One thing that complicates a “guide for monome beginners” concept, is the diversity of the monome audience. You’ve got folks who just want to use the work of others to make music and have no interest in coding or patch programming. Then you’ve got folks who want to invent new musical instruments. And then there are folks that start out as one but end up somewhere in between.

So I think it’d need to address these differences in skill and interest.


Sure, I think the place to start is to figure out the (arche)types of monome users, then plan and build out guides for each of them there.


Btw the link @P1505 have is missing the lua on the end:

after 15 minutes of that link if you’re still interested I recommend this book: the first edition is actually available free online, but its the first edition


Wonderful, many thanks!

@eblomquist if you don’t mind, would you be able to share some of the things you are hoping to do with the monome?

Sure. For starters, I want to be able to learn the Ansible apps for both Grid and Arc as well as the maxforlive ones.

I’m equally interested in eurorack and m4l… since I have both a Grid and an Arc but only one Ansible, and would like to be able to use both instruments at the same time, I suspect that m4l will be the initial focus, until I can get a second Ansible.

I’m thinking that I should try to learn the existing applications before aspiring to try to write something new.

This probably sounds pretty pedestrian, but it’s at least a start…