Question from a new guy

Hello all. First time poster, long time tinkerer of music whenever time between kids and work allow.

I’m a piano player to begin with, have been playing since I was a kid, but have explored electronic music on and off since my teens (I’m 40 now). I’m all hardware, hardly even use software for recording, but have nothing against the idea of software and music - it just hasn’t been necessary or offered me anything interesting enough, compared to just jamming with an Octatrack or working with a Circuit.

I’ve had my eyes on a monome for over a year. I love the ideas behind it, I love the actual product itself, I love the music that people make with it. I’m curious to try it out.

If I’ve understood it correctly - monome is a physical controller that connects to a computer, which contains an eco system of applications that enables the monome in different ways?

And it’s up to you as a musician to use those applications in ways you see fit, together or stand alone, to build on something that you’ll enjoy crafting and performing?

Is this correct? Excuse me for what might seem like a dumb question, but the super minimalistic approach to the monome makes it somewhat difficult to find a place where someone just says straight out what it is and what it does (or perhaps it does and I’m just missing the message, hence the question).

And the vibes of this forum, the people in it, all just seems great, too.

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Welcome!

You are correct.

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Up until 2014 or so, that was correct.

However, in addition to that, the grid can now be used to control Eurorack modules released by monome (teletype, meadowphysics, white whale, earthsea). So if you have a Eurorack modular synthesizer setup, you can use the grid to interface with your modules, no computer required.

http://monome.org/modular/

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Many thanks for the advise, people. That video was really helpful.

I’ve been investigating gear and workflow for over two years, trying to find a rig that suits my very specific demands. I’ve hardly explored grid instruments at all, having owned more traditional gear, with everything from the Tempest and a few Elektron boxes (of which I’ve kept the Octatrack for two years, and still enjoy it) from Moogs and Prophets.

I have very little gear left now, but came across the Circuit a couple of weeks ago, and suddenly realized the lure of the grid instrument. That led me to monome (again, I’ve had my eyeson it before), and it seems so different both in terms of workflow and design, that it keeps calling for my attention.

My ideal instrument is a box of groove box size, which is self-contained and can produce sounds of all sorts - samples, synthesis, and sequence the lot. Yamaha made a few of those in the early 2000’s, and the OP1 is kind of this, but yes, the monome seems intriguing on so many levels.

I’m a bit of a traveller in this aspect. Exploring and experimenting is more than half the fun.

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If you have an interest in DSP, Max is a real treasure as a sound source, but it does require climbing a bit of learning curve. The appeal of Novation Circuit has much to do with multiple synth engines ready to go, whereas monome is “assembly required”. If you’re the type to see this as an advantage, then monome is for you.

Thanks. I’m quite used to, and in fact very much enjoy, to dig deep into the actual process of assembling, cutting and pasting, as long as it’s related to the music itself and not, for example, that I physically need to solder, screw, sharpen and do other kinds of stuff that I will most likely fail at.

What’s keeping me from pulling the trigger is the dependance on a computer. What I enjoy with the Circuit is that I put it in my bag, I go anywhere and make music everywhere, on batteries.

But what appeals with the monome, is that it kind of feels like an OP-1, philosophically. It’s a beautiful instrument capable of so many different things, you’re not really limited by your preference to samples, synthesis, sequencing, live playing or whatnot. It’s all there.

So even though the device is just a controller, it seems to control a universe of applications that in themselves form a quite unique world for musicians.

While Max is amazing, monome supports a variety of dsp environments. Supercollider and Pd are a couple of possibilities for running on very low cost hardware such as a RaspberryPi. A very simple Linux computer slimmed down to the singular purpose of DSP controlled by a monome may be a less frustrating concept than the traditional idea of “computer”. But since it’s a relatively new train of thought for this community, it may feel a bit raw until we’ve applied some collective elbow grease.

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That might be too hardcore for me, though I like the idea that it can be done at all.

Most of what I’ve heard from monome users are polyrythmic stuff with harmonic, ambient-intense stuff - tranquil, rhythmic, serene.

I like it, it’s the kind of stuff I’d do myself if I had a monome, but out of curiosity - is this in part because of the applications available, or is it because the kind of musicians who enjoy this kind of music, are attracted to the monome?

The Octatrack, for example, can be anything and sound like anything. While most drawn to it are into variations of more experimental music, there’s classic dance acts, acustic sets, pop and whatnot. So it’s really what you make of it.

How’s the monome in that aspect? Does the platform to some extent dictate the music made on it, or is it mostly the crowd that just prefers that kind of music?

imo it’s mostly the crowd that prefers this kind of music.
for example, jazz is also a possibility :slight_smile: (not me in the video)

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that is sick

i love the variety in this community

There was a whole thread in the old forum discussing whether monomes constrict the stylistic output of its users…did the music all lean in the same direction and end up alike? The answer was no.

I think the range has become even more obvious as the user base expanded. Pretty much everyone on earth with a push or launchpad is using a “monome”. There might be similarities in style but it is due to likeminded artists being attracted to the tool (rather than the tool itself).

The compositional approach of each person has more impact on the sound than the hardware or software. Thinking only of popular max apps like MLR, TPV, Polygomé…there is vast potential for variation and combination.

this made me so happy

Monome is a very open ended tool that requires players to decide how they want to use it, as I said before “some assembly required”. So it attracts people who are interested in making their music their own, who are not interested in being constrained by their tools. It’s not surprising that such folks are more likely to be attracted to less conventional musical forms.

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https://vimeo.com/28421401 Pauk “the snail” one of my favourite videos/songs.

Or

Is the artists approach that makes the song not the tools.

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Very cool examples. Thanks, guys. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Great community!