Monome Life, indeed. What makes the Monome so wonderful is not so much that the hardware and software itself are open source — nice as that may be — but that they have become a platform for experimentation and personalization. Max/MSP, now freshly injected with life following its version-5 release, has a similar ethos. Here are a couple of the creations that have impressed me most recently: a hacked-together implementation of The Game of Life in Max and Monome, and an impressive DJ app, dj64.

This is Your Life

Bean (blog | twitter | flickr) clearly very much loves his Monome, as indicated by the slideshow above. I recently spotted an interesting creation on the CDMusic Flickr Pool — an implementation of the iconic Game of Life simulation/game — and asked him about it.

I made it mainly just because I figured it should be possible. It’s not terribly efficient, and occasionally stutters, but that feels like part of its charm. It is monome tailored, but would run stand-alone with a little tweaking.

I’ve got the cleaned up version posted on my page of monome-specific patches:

There are a number of downloads there, including that one, so Max users, have at them!

Having taught Max to college students and hung around Max and Pd patchers, I actually think I enjoy the hacked-together stuff more. It’s software, but somehow the visible evidence left behind makes it clear that these tools have been touched by human hands. Here’s a look at the interface and the resulting patch in action (prior to clean-up, I might add), with Bean’s caveat that “Max is in no way the ideal, or even a particularly suitable, environment for implementing a Game of Life app. I did it basically just to see if I could do it. And the answer is, yes, yes I could.”

dj64: DJ Software, Monome Style

Bitbasic has reproduced the fundamentals of a DJ setup in Max/MSP, which you can use either standalone or (ideally) controller with a Monome. Consistent with the Monome aesthetic, the emphasis is on minimalism — this isn’t quite Native Instruments Traktor, but then, that seems like part of the point. And by being incomplete, it invites users to try hacking together their own solutions and modifications.

dj64 for Monome – by Bitbasic from simon on Vimeo.

It’s really with the controller that it starts to make sense. Before DJs out there start knocking this, I think it’s the fact that this is the opposite of a turntable that makes it interesting. The results are digital and glitchy. The interface is buttons instead of the continuous control offered by a physical turntable. The software interface may look like a typical 2-deck DJ rig, but the results are unmistakably Monome-y.

Features, as implemented in the Max software and Monome control:

  • Pitch and pitch bend, time stretch controls
  • Crossfader, 2-channel mixing
  • Cue set and return
  • Effects: flanger, ring mod, stutter, granular, more
dj64 Project @ monome docs
dj64 discussion @ monome forums

It’s under development, so stay tuned. But as a first go, I already find it inspiring. Seen other Monome applications you like? Creating something of your own — even hack-y and unfinished? Holler out in comments.

Previous post

Open Source OSC iPhone App Coming; Chicken and Egg Argument Dead

Next post

Teaser: Minitek in NYC Draws Huge Lineup, a New Tangible Music Interface

  • salamanderanagram

    a video of my kaoss pad running a monome emulator i wrote, thru a game of life patch.

  • Peter Kirn

    Perfect timing, salamanderanagram…. got a couple of other tips on Korg hacking, so time for a round-up. Anyone else?

  • salamanderanagram

    yeah i got a kaossilator patch i'm gonna post soon too… it basically changes the MIDI output to notes so you can play a KP3 like a kaossilator (but with any synth you want)

  • salamanderanagram
  • corporation

    I've tried out dj64 a few times, and it's fantastic – and with work beginning on versions with live input, its getting wild.

    my only issue is remembering all the functions on the effects pages without cheat sheets close by! it's dense- in a goodway though!

  • al

    my beatbox kaoss reaktor ensemble

    updated from my other vids

    vst versions

    vst kaossbox

    4 part synth and seq with 8 part drum seq


    16 step 8 part drum seq with 3 part pitch seq

    ive got a few more i aint been able to do vids for

    an ableton live controler

    were u can trigger 64 clips from the kaoss pads

    x y grid also 64 key transposition

    and also a 64 note keyboard controller

    need a new gui for this version has a seq on every note

  • wetterberg

    game of life for max? Erhm, I'm sorry, what was wrong with [jit.conway]? That's been around forever, works fine with the Lemur and such, too.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Sonic Life, Organic Game of Life Sequencer, Hits iPhone and iPod()