Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing. Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks …

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USB is the new CV: monome meadowphysics as Modular, in New Video

meadowphysics possibilities from tehn on Vimeo. Here’s a lovely new monome demo, demonstrating their meadowphysics module interfacing between Eurorack hardware (that’s the stuff with the cables and knobs and things) and monome (that’s the stuff with the light-up grid). Call your family and random strangers and tell them that today you’re really stoked about “rhizomatic cascading counters,” which is what this is. (In more technical terms, let’s go with “chimey note-y thing.”) I’ve heard people who don’t like computers much complain that USB is some sort of source of planned obsolescence. On the contrary, with serial and standard class-compliant implementations …

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This Virtuoso Ableton Push Performance Comes Full of Tips for Controllerists

Jesse Abayomi, Ableton Product Specialist, is one heck of a virtuoso Push player. And you can learn something from him, too. Performance technology doesn’t always add to performance, it’s true. But when the machine and human are in sync, it’s beautiful. People can develop their musical chops and machine control chops at once – improve on their musical practice and technique. And when that happens, the quality of performances actually gets better. I’ve seen a funny thing as Push has crept into performances. Just as with the spread of custom controllers in the past, access to more playing technique has …

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white whale Makes your monome Into an Amazing Modular Step Sequencer

It seems everyone is getting in on modular gear these days, thanks to the Eurorack format. But many of these modules are variations on a theme – new models of old classic modules, existing synthesis components and filters that have just been reborn as a module. monome white whale, shipping this month, is something different. Connect a monome grid controller to a modular, and suddenly that array of light-up buttons becomes a probabilistic sequencer. It’s live performance oriented in a way too few modules are. The results are surprising and lovely. The solution isn’t cheap – you need a monome …

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Will Your Next Controller Be 3D Printed? Meet Adafruit’s Open Source Grid

The original monome project did more than just create a novel piece of hardware for music. It established a design language for what essential digital interfaces might be, in the deceptively simple form of its light up grid of buttons. It’s not so interesting to just copy that hardware, then. More compelling are efforts to extract the elements of the design in ways that can be turned into new things. Adafruit has been slowly building up a nice set of building blocks clearly inspired by monome. Trellis is a system for making the grids component work – lighting the buttons …

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Numark NV for Serato: Every Digital DJ Control Method in One Box?

In the digital age, the metaphor for DJing has been fragmented. You’ve got big wheels, but they represent missing turntables and don’t provide visual feedback. You’ve got CDJs, but then the waveform and the wheel are still separate. You’ve got vinyl records, but then you have to look at a computer screen to see where you are in the track. (A recent presentation at the NIME conference projected images on the record – see below – but projectors lack enough resolution for cue points on the vinyl.) The iPad is the one device that seems to get it right. It …

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Watch the Wonders of Grids, as monome Makers Defend Minimal Design

As electronic musical instruments have evolved, it’s been surprisingly easy to point to specific designs that lead others. Creators do often reach the same cluster of ideas at about the same time. But the specifics of how those ideas catch on have very often coalesced around one iconic instrument. Bill Hemsath’s layout, with Bob Moog, for the Minimoog became the standard for monosynth keyboards with knobs. Roger Linn’s design for velocity-sensitive pads, and eventually the MPC 4×4 grid, became the standard for drum machines. And Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain I think deserve credit for making the 8×8 grid the …

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Roger Linn’s Linnstrument Could Finally Make Grids Expressive for Music [Hands On]

Roger Linn is largely to blame for the fact that so many instruments have grids of pads on them. He was the first to use custom touch-sensitive drum pads on drum machines as we now know them, and the rectangular arrays of pads – first on the Linn9000, but particularly on Akai’s break-out hit, the 4×4 MPC60 – became an iconic and popular interface. But now, he has a design that might change the way you think about grids. The problem is, input methods for digital instruments are still famously limited. Our computers themselves can produce astounding ranges of sound, …

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M-Audio Trigger Finger Pad Controller is Back – with a Step Sequencer, High-Res Screen

This is not your father’s Trigger Finger. The Trigger Finger has to be one of the biggest success stories in controllers, ever. Back before “controllerism” was a thing, this was what you took along – cheap, light, easy-to-abuse, it was a warhorse 4×4 grid of pads with faders. I’ve watched Flying Lotus tear up his; I’ve seen it win laptop battles. I’ve seen people play them with pads weirdly half ripped-off and all the knob and fader caps missing. I’ve seen Trigger Fingers that looked like someone dragged them through the mud tied to a pickup truck. (I knew that …

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Elektron Opens Mystery Box, Revealing – An Analog Drum Machine with Maschine-Style Pads?

What’s in the box? Starting at an event in Berlin in the fall, the folks at Elektron have been teasing new hardware, hiding it inside a padlocked, frosted-plexiglass case. Today, they opened the case. Inside is what appears to be an anticipated new Elektron drum machine – though various readers tell us this latest drum machine from the company will use analog drum synthesis. (That’s unconfirmed.) The obvious addition is given away instantly: you get a colored 4×3 grid of pads, looking a bit like Maschine and Machinedrum had a love child. (Then again, that love child doesn’t sound like …

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