Newbie question - ambient patches

Hi, thank you for reading this.

My name is Laura, and I really can’t possibly overstate how new I am to all of this, I own an old Roland Juno synth and that’s about it. No experience with the Monome, Max MSP, or any other such high level wizardry. I bow to thee.

I’m here because I saw a little clip on Instagram of this LA musician MatthewDavid (I’d wager some of you know of him) who has done cool synth jams with Emily Sprague from Florist in the past, anyway it’s a clip of him playing with this (presumably) custom patch on a Monome that I realize is basically all I want to do musically in my life, to put it one way.

Eh one more

The closest thing I’ve seen is old videos on YouTube of that Tenori-On device that came out years ago, anyway the general idea I guess is that the sounds themselves are so amorphous, aqueous, edgeless and the rhythms so (I dunno what’s the right word, quantized?) that you can quite literally close your eyes and randomly run your fingers across the keys, and the end result will generally be something pleasantly ambient but also complex and nuanced, a mixture of short splashes and long drawn out lines that connect like fish swimming in a pond creating little connecting whirlpools of sound.

I like this idea, of a combination human input and computational magic to create something a child could sit down and literally play with and just enjoy organizing sounds. A sonic world where “easy" is not a dirty word.

I guess I’m just wondering what would be the best way to go about creating a setup like this. Would you just like take snippets of field recordings and random synth phrases and load them into the Monome like a sampler? Are there any synth gods out there making patches like this that a person can buy/download? Sorry if this all sounds a little silly. Thank you again for reading.


paging @matthewdavid for straight-from-the-source good vibes
&& @andrew, who is an incredibly inventive grid programmer chasing down similar vibes with a laptop + grid combo


Hello and welcome!

I’ve not any experience using grid with computer, but these sorts of things are very accessible and doable with grid and norns, and to a lesser and sadly even more expensive extent, norns and modular. OR with norns and a midi keyboard I suspect which would be a rather semi-affordable venture if you buy a used norns.

apologies if I’m speaking about things you already know, but the key is what’s called quantization. Which basically means making it so whatever key you press is rounded up or down to the nearest note of a set scale, resulting in the “a child could play this and it would sound ok” thing. And to my knowledge there a number of really great norns apps/synth engines with built-in quantization features and that list seems to just keep growing and growing.

EDIT: why is this post hidden now :thinking:


hello I wanna talk pls


Thank you! I had no idea he posted here that’s, well that’s awesome! :smiley:

Hi! Sorry for some reason that I can not possibly understand this thread got temporarily “flagged" (???), I hope you can see it now. I would love to hear any words of wisdom you have to offer.

yes well anyway -

if md makes his way over he can correct me but i believe most of what he’s been centered around the app re:mix inside ableton live (no programming required), and specifically recording into re:mix’s memory while it’s also playing back, which kinda makes it act like a delay, it’s real cool and I do similar stuff and it really is all you need in life.

you can also play back files and that’s a whole world too. the variable speed and position jumps really bring it alive


monome’s got so many ways of making music… :slight_smile:

monolase Monolase app


yes - this is important and something he’s doing in these videos likely, and something I’m a fan of. the smaller grid is running a version of notes, which, well, plays quantized notes (layed out on all the buttons on the grid, which is great). I made a version that uses the computer keyboard :sunglasses:

im also sure that there are plenty of delays/reverb/compression gong on either before or after re:mix. ableton is great for chaining stuff together.

do you have/planning any kind of daw/software setup @landerson7 ?

Thank you for all of the information! After reading all of this, I think I’m going to take a first principles approach and start learning everything needed to operate confidently and competently in that Max for Live environment so I can check out the re:mix application. There’s a lot of simple stuff I can tell I need to wrap my head around first, so a good faith effort to learn about these programs and their relation to one another is in order.


super awesome - this is a great next step. many people start off by diving straight into gear and that can easily become more distracting than helpful - taking time to understand a system thoroughly is much more helpful imho.

you can definitely achieve similar results to what you’re hearing in these vids in max for live without a grid, especially if building patches is an interest (as mentioned vari-speed delays and quantized keyboards are really the key). max and live do come with a decent price tag but there are free solutions that come with a little more technical challenges (such as pd/supercollider).

but anyway, good luck moving forward, and if you have any max or ableton related questions you’re always welcome to drop into the max thread :slightly_smiling_face:


thank y’all
hie hie @landerson7
hey hi @andrew :slight_smile:

there are so many ways to make music. i make therapeutic ambient music all sorts of ways. andrew is hitting the nail on the head for direction and intuitive advice as it relates to my music + one way how i do it is shown in these videos - i have a lot to add and to say, but maybe it deserves an entire new thread ? :thinking:

i do think that exploring the devices, the tools the patches and the platform, if you are into exploring the ableton daw and max for live integration —> is a beautiful boundless world. it takes time and more time and familiarity and a commitment to seeking and experimenting… it sounds like your down for that and that you want to also create effortless therapeutic healing textural ambient music. my music lately has been very much texturally inspired by the mycelium network of earth, spore consciousness and plant consciousness.

its hard to know where to begin. i use ableton a lot, everyday, have been on that daw platform seriously since 2005. everything goes into it and music is made from it, within it, out of it, into it —>
the grids have been a nice and inspiring tactile visual playable element for me lately - i look at screens for multiple hours everyday and im not terribly proud of that.

modular systems, max for live devices, the monome grid and its community of instruments and patches, tape loops, loop pedals, delays, open-tuned acoustic string instruments like zithers and guitars, flutes., sampling from anywhere (nature, youtube, vinyl, w/e)

more later/soon
big gratitude and beams of resonance
love energy


Do you use Ableton Live?

The fastest, not-overly-technical or gear-purchasing way I’d approximate these sounds in Live would be to set up a MIDI track running Operator (personal preference and pretty easy to grock and get nice sounds out of right away, any softsynth might do).

  • Add a MIDI effect to lock in a scale of your choosing (eg Major, Minor, etc.)
  • Add any combination of reverbs and delays, go nuts
  • Mash on your keys, optionally click in a few random midi notes as a repeating ‘base layer’
  • Optional: Tweak Operator parameters manually or with automation or with LFO
  • Swim with the sounds

You can then look into generative sequencers to mash on keys for you:

isotonik arcade

You don’t need Live for this, any DAW would do.

And of course lots of the monome apps / hardware (which gives all the benefits of tactile feedback and embodied performance), as mentioned above.

To use your Juno, just digging around a bit, this looks interesting/fascinating: