The Monome Ecosystem

I’ve been following the IIIIIIII community for a short while now and love the sense of community. I came here originally following a Cold Mac link, got lucky being pointed to the beta thread for the Just Friends new firmware and keep letting my interest in the Monome ecosystem draw me in.

While I love the aesthetics and so very many of the demos, what I find missing is an overview video showing Teletype, Ansible with a number of its firmware options, Arc, and Grid all being worked as a cohesive network of pieces with some explanation of why and how this ensemble makes sense as a system. Maybe someone knows of just such a video, but I can’t find anything? While the relatively isolated videos showing each piece are helpful, I’d like to look over someone’s shoulder as they harness all of the current Monome tools.


comment to follow! super cool to see what videos turn up


I’m also very interested to hear how people are structuring their monome ecosystems.

I have a grid, arc, a pair of Ansibles and Earthsea as well as a Meadowphysics module that is in and out of the case. I admit I rarely use them all together in a very cohesive manner. Each can have such complexity and capability on it’s own that I tend to structure a patch around one module which I ‘play’ using either grid or arc. Then maybe add some support with one or 2 others, which often feel a bit under utilised.


I’ve watched the videos again and I’ve searched for everything I can find on Teletype and still I have no concrete idea what its role is in relationship to Grid, Ansible, and Arc? Maybe I’m trying to hard to find connectivity and the entire Monome line are just independent units that have no relationship to one another, but I feel like there’s supposed to be a connection that I’m simply missing and that all the real Monome users know the secret that no one else does.

Please, if someone could ELI5 why these components as a system should be goal.

Have you read about the ability to attach the Teletype to Ansible and other Monome modules via internal ribbon cables on the back? Teletype can issue remote commands all the Monome modules and also now Mannequins Just Friends, becoming a hub to command them all. They are definitely not independent units with no relationship to each other. The ‘Remote’ section explains this part at the bottom of the Teletype page.

Arc works with Ansible for the 2 modes, and Grid for 2, changing depending on which is plugged into Ansible. The rest of the Monome modules use a Grid to drive their functions.

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Truthfully I don’t know if there’s much out there in terms of using everything together as a collective (at this point in time). This whole idea of the interconnectivity available between the modules via i2c and teletype is still fairly new (and consider all the work and development that has gone into solidifying this interconnectivity and the teletype firmware v2+)

I’m in the process of creating a solo performance set, using the Teletype as a brain for the other monome modules (and Just Friends), allowing me to constrain my improvisation within the bounds of composition and form. I’ll be trying out this performance system in a few weeks, and will be sure to record audio/video if this is something that interests you.

Alternatively, this isn’t the approach for everyone. there’s no reason you can’t any of these components on their own within your own system and process. That in itself is some of the beauty

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It’s important to emphasize that Teletype does not require any other modules or hardware to function. It comes with a keyboard, which is the only thing it needs.

Regarding Ansible, the best way to think about it is a 6HP multi-module where most of the functionality is broken out into a large, tactile external interface that doesn’t eat up HP. When connected to Grids, you can choose between Kria or Meadowphysics with the push of a button. Kria is a very good step sequencer, while Meadowphysics is a very good trigger and gate generator (it can also generate CV sequences, but I don’t use it as much). When connected to an Arc, you get Cycles and Levels. Cycles is a quad LFO with some physical rules (friction) and frequency dividing, while Levels is an offset generator with sequencing.

Alternatively, without Grids or Arc, Ansible can be used as a Teletype expander (more outputs!) or as a MIDI-to-CV converter. In the MIDI-to-CV conversion modes, you can convert USB MIDI data to CV in all sorts of ways, including arpeggiation. In that regard, the Ansible becomes something like the Expert Sleepers FH-1.

If you have an Ansible, you don’t need both a Grids and an Arc. However, you can’t use the associated modes if you don’t have the associated hardware.

The “Remote” functionality is a way for Teletype to communicate with other modules using an i2c cable behind the modules. The Ansible does not have CV inputs, so a Teletype becomes the only way to externally modulate its behavior. You can write scripts on Teletype that do simple things to change the Ansible’s behavior. For instance, “If Teletype receives a trigger on input 1, reset this row on Meadowphysics” or “If Teletype receives a trigger on input 2, change the speed of the Cycles LFO 1 by amount X”… This scripts can become much more complicated if you want.

@scanner_darkly is adding a way to control Teletype from Grids, but it’s still in beta. It will also require a power solution. It’s worth noting that it exists, though.


This is starting to come together with the help of you three @Jonny @ellips_s and @trickyflemming - thanks.

@Jonny As an order of understanding starts to take hold in my brain I read up on the internal cable and if I understand this I can connect 1x Just Friends and 1x Ansible, but not 2x Ansible’s? With the previous modules now discontinued the idea of a “Trilogy” is now in limbo right?

@ellips_s Yes I’d be very interested in seeing a video of that performance.

@trickyflemming While I can now start to see how the modules act independently it seems that having two Ansible would be preferred if someone were using both the Arc and Grid, but after going over the documentation if I wanted to have both actively being manipulated by the Teletype, I’d need two Teletypes. Is this correct?

The comparison to the FH-1 was super helpful. Your descriptions of the Ansible also made me think of similarities to the Ornament & Crime only super extended by having Teletype interact with it in order to bring dynamic deeper changes to how signals are being modulated, right?

Then to top it off there “might” be some level of interactivity with Teletype by using a Grid to move through Scenes stored in the Teletype.

Thanks everyone as this now starts to make sense.

One Teletype can handle two Ansible, but not in the same mode I believe. So as long as they’re both doing different things, you can address both of them at once. i.e., Ansible 1 - Cycles, Ansible 2 - Kria.

I do it all the time…

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As @emenel is saying, it looks like you can use 2 - this makes sense if you are running different modes or devices.

The trilogy modules have been discontinued, but still work just fine. Brian has said somewhere he has no plans to continue making those modules and foresees that they should still be somewhat available second hand. From what I have seen, he’s right.

Referencing @trickyflemming , yes - it’s important to note that Teletype can be used on it’s own with the keyboard. I do want to point out that in that scenario, it is still nice to have gates/triggers to feed the inputs, as it really opens up as an event driven system. That is probably why you see many Monome video examples of it in use with Meadowphysics. Walk is also another interesting way to drive it.


I can’t really imagine considering the discontinued modules as there must be a fundamental reason why Brian would give up on them, seems end of road to me.

Regarding Walk, very interested in this module for a bit of time now as I was considering it as a foot pedal driven gate for punching in on my ER-301, seems like two of them might be in the cards.

Great news on two Ansible’s being able to be addressed by a single Teletype.

No, you can have 1 Teletype address a huge number of modules simultaneously. I used to have two Ansibles, so during that time I had 2x Ansible, 1x Just Friends, 2x TXi, and 2x TXo all connected (TXi and TXo are Teletype expanders by @bpcmusic, but I wouldn’t worry about those until you’re up and running with the Teletype). I sold one of the Ansibles and 1 of the TXis because I was never using everything simultaneously.

This is a good way of thinking about it. Like O+C, it is one modal module with multiple apps.

Regarding Ansible controllers, Grids is better for step sequencing. Arc is better for smooth control. I see you on the OD forum, so I can recommend the Arc+Ansible in Levels mode as a terrific offset generator for the 301.

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Earthsea is fantastic and there is nothing like it. I suppose you could consider Kria to be a replacement for White Whale, but they have a different flavor. And there’s nothing like Orca, an alternative firmware for White Whale.


I want to understand that these modules are amazing…they are part of the reason behind me having such great interest in the Monome system, but if they are so appreciated why stop their production?

With Monome’s firmware being open source I suppose it the Earthsea and White Whale will continue to be supported at a software level in any case. Has anyone taken on that role?

I do have a vague memory that someone was speculating that it had something to do with not being able to clock them?

Brian some days ago hinted at something new in the works when he was inquiring about interest in some new 256’s, any idea or can you nudge him to return to that thread and satisfy the curiosity he sparked? I’m wondering if Earthsea and White Whale were cancelled in part because of a new better more all-encompassing single module taking their place.

I speculate that it’s really just a question of supply and demand. A run is produced at a certain size and it eventually sells out. A judgement call is made about whether a new run is justified, or whether it will be more satisfying to focus efforts elsewhere.

Brian is an efficient guy but he isn’t a big factory. I think of it more like the way an artist who works in printmaking or pottery goes about producing and selling work. Limited editions, short runs, to scratch an artistic itch, that thankfully an appreciative audience shares. And how cool is it that the audience are themselves musicians with audiences of their own?

But maybe @tehn will chime in on the subject of his motivations and priorities. I’m curious too, and think it’s an interesting topic. But I’m trying to explain here that this isn’t a typical producer/consumer/company/product type of relationship for me, nor do I assume it is for many others.


Here’s what Brian said about it in Monome production status october 2016 :


This aspect of modular synthesis has definitely made a big impact on me and the genius coursing through this community in an endless source of inspiration. The polite discourse that goes on here in this forum and over at Orthogonal Devices is a model for interaction between artist, engineer, intellectual, and various other creators.

@Jonny Thanks for sharing that. Sometimes it’s difficult when wanting to covet something that the item may not always be there and on the other hand I’ve always gravitated towards musicians who are not afraid to take hard left turns at the risk of alienating their listening base. So it was too recently when Olivier Gillet of Mutable Instruments announced he was discontinuing Peaks and the much loved/maligned Braids. I had to give him a lot of credit for moving on even though it was probably a great source of income. We must change to evolve and it is truly great watching the pace of change that is happening in this community.

Thank you everyone who is helping me gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the hows and whys of these ever increasingly intriguing tools that are clawing at my imagination.

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just wanted to add that I only have ww and ansible, and I use them in tandem constantly (with ansible running kria, clocked by ww). totally different flavors (to me!), and ones that pair very well together.


Thanks to the Monome community and all of you that supplied clarification regarding my fog surrounding a solid understanding about the Monome ecosystem.

Today with the new batch of Teletype’s being available (someone should have announced that here in the forum) I placed my order. I opted for the Teletype/Walk bundle as I plan on using the Walk primarily with my ER-301 as a looper trigger and I’m excited to see how the Teletype will interact with my Just Friends. (Please universe don’t make me want a second Just Friends as I’m trying to save for the Arc, a Grid, an Ansible and if I’m so lucky a couple of Telex units from @bpcmusic)