Why Monome?

Hey everyone,
I’m a new user on this community, and so far it’s been really amazing to see the amount of support and help available for all sorts of issues. It’s really amazing to see creators coming together and interacting so openly about everything. However, I did want to pose an honest question for you dedicated Monome users out there. Perhaps it will seem like a silly question, but I really want to know. Why use Monome? I don’t mean it badly whatsoever, I really would love to work with Monome gear. The more I come across it, the more creative ways I see it being used and it just seems amazing. It seems like such an inspiring landscape of technology. I just want to hear personal opinions from those in the community about why the Monome products are so special to them. In particular, I’m interested in the Grid, Aleph, and possibly some of the eurorack modules they offer. As high school student, affording any of them is really challenging. Before I make such an investment, I want to be completely set on them. So, for my own curiosity, I pass the question on to you: why do you love Monome, and what do you use their products for?

I can’t wait to see your responses.


I don’t use monome products because they are the most affordable approach. It’s also been a very long time since I’ve been a high school student, so you might want to factor that in.

There is a focus on user experience and interface design that you don’t always see in music products. An attention to detail. It adds up to making these things feel more like musical instruments than mere electronics products.

There is Brian Crabtree (@tehn) and Kelli Cain (@kelli_cain) themselves. Not only are they amazingly inventive/creative, but also very kind and supportive people. You know you are supporting good folks who are working hard to provide the best work they can.

There is the llllllll.co community. Unparalleled in the electronic music world. Smart, thoughtful, kind, creative. Never have I felt more strongly that I am among “my people” when I spend time here.

I’m at work and just taking a quick break, so I won’t be getting into the technical details of “why monome?” right this minute, but there are quite a few to consider.




I am a new monome user coming from other eurorack gear. I have to say out of any other sequencer I have used the grid is my absolute favorite. It is very pleasing to play and flesh out ideas with compared to a lot of machines I have used. White whale (white whale, kria v1) and ansible (kria v2, meadowphysics) are incredibly flexible and intuitive workhorse sequencers so they may be a great place to start if you have an existing eurorack foundation.

Perhaps this may answer your question better - I am purchasing a laptop just to use the software available for the grid I have been so enamored with it (my main pc is constantly rendering).

I can’t speak enough of the build quality and responsiveness on this forum that I see.

I wish I had this in highschool I probably would have been a better kid :wink:


For me, monome is about unlimited possibilities for open-ended exploration.

Grids and arcs appeal to me for this reason in the same way that modular synthesisers do. There’s nothing telling me I have to do things in a certain way. I can define the device in my own terms and make things as simple or complex as I need or want.

If I was a high school student on a budget looking to explore monome, I think I’d pick up an old 64 of some sort and an academic license for Max Msp. Then spend the rest of my time exploring that combination!


Because I tell it what to do, not the other way around.


they encourage and facilitate learning
they want an ongoing relationship with users, not just sales

they are genuinely committed to the advancement of electronic music thru shared knowledge

While the number of monome devices I own may change, I don’t anticipate my feelings about the company changing at all…brian, kelli, and part-time affiliates ezra/trent/soren etc have a special place in my heart for their consistently helpful and kind interaction (both in public + private)


If you’re looking for a less romanticized answer, especially considering your age/circumstances, I appreciated many things about monomes before I owned one:

  • beauty…hardware and software seemed intentional, deliberately and carefully crafted
  • accountability…sustainable materials supplied by locals, “manual” existed online, customer issues were handled directly by tehn
  • openness…monome promoted diy solutions to recreate their machines, apps were free (same software that pro users performed with)

those things still hold true & now that I’ve used several of their devices for years, another reason I love em?

  • build quality!

hmm. this is tough. you won’t know your preferred tools until you’ve used them and used others to affirm your preferences and compare.

i use an old cheaper non-varibright gs 64 grid. it was like 250 or something. it is by far my favorite monome i have come across. i have tried a number of others and all sorts of other things.

nothing else for me does what the monome does. the community is incredible. that cannot be overstated. there is no other community like this one to my knowledge.

the hardware devices themselves feel so wonderful. they very much inspire me, even just sitting there unplugged.

i have no other hardware to interface with the software i use (some dedicated to monome from max and m4l).

years go by and i still want to use it. still learn how to use it. the potential for so much more learning.

hope you find whatever it is you are looking for to make the best art you can.

in the end, it makes little difference what tools you use to create. the big stuff: use your time to create if that is what you are feeling!!! along that journey you’ll come across tools as complement.


I starting playing piano at the age of six and singing at the age of twelve. I’ve been an acoustic performer my entire life, it’s how I understand music as a person.

I discovered eurorack/modular synthesis only over the last two years, and from the start I wanted to find a way to obtain a tactile, spontaneous and above all interpretive level of control over my new instrument. Sure, there’s a certain thrill to wiggling knobs and dynamically patching and muting/unmuting voices. But until I discovered the monome grid (and later the arc) I was unsatisfied that such a means of control existed.

Don’t get me wrong - I know there are MIDI keyboards and computer-based DAW methods for controlling eurorack systems. What I admire (and fear, perhaps in equal measure) about monome is that it is so not like a traditional piano keyboard. Consider Earthsea - it is more guitar-like, but also brings shape memory, sequencing, live layering and a bunch of other tools to the interface. And the grid . . . changes. . . with each app I attach it to. That is fundamentally disorienting, and through that disorientation, also freeing.

Your mileage will vary.


(if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just tired of reading, skip to the bottom for the #1 piece of advice i would give to a high-school-me as an audio nerd)
edited some typos

Welcome! I remember feeling like the only high schooler in an internet space (seemingly) filled with “just a bunch of dads and their toys” as a friend of mine once described it. There are other people around your age here, but for the most part I really look up to monome/lines for the effortless maturity of thoughtfully solving problems. That’s pretty much what got me into this community.

Being around here is, as @jasonw22 put it, like being among “my people” because it’s kind of open-ended. The people here will respect any project you choose as much as you do. And they’ll help! The other crucial part of that is that open source spirit where part of the goal is to be a contributor. It’s the value of community; great things can be accomplished with far less personal sacrifice if you’ve got a diverse, dedicated ensemble.

Beyond all the babbling warm and fuzzies, these folks know their music tech. And if they don’t know, someone knows who does know. It’s also useful for me as I start digging into programming and instrument design. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to chime in, and always go out of your way to click on the threads that don’t seem interesting at first. One funny thing around here is the thread titles; some of them are intentionally (and hilariously) cryptic. Always something surprising going on.

Stick around! (and start making a spreadsheet of your gear so you can keep track of it when you’re moving in a few years. It also makes it damn easy to buy/sell/trade when need be. I’m doing it mid-semester with 18 credits. Cannot recommend.)


I grew up living in the SF Bay Area and had the opportunity to see weirder or more experimental acts like The Books, Tujiko Noriko, MĂşm, The Mae Shi, Amps for Christ, Thuja, Caroliner Rainbow, Octopus Project, Skullflower, William Basinski, etc live. This motivated me to explore a lot of electronic music process (read lots of Curtis Rodes).

During one of my late-night dives into the Freesound Project, I came across this sound:

Which was the beginning of the end for me. I had to make sounds like that. I felt I needed to learn Pure-Data and picked it up pretty quickly. After some time I began jamming with like-minded friends and wanted an intuitive physical interface to control the bits of software I was making.

Then I saw the famous Monome 256 + Wurlitzer video

And after reading the docs and observing how Linux-friendly the device was, I purchased my first walnut 64 in 2008 (time flies). Began using established applications like MLR and Polygome at first, but soon adapted my own applications.

Now I create stuff like this:

The grid is so tied into my process, I can’t really imagine attempting a similar process without it.