A grid of anything, as Launchpad tool lets you play in new ways

From frets to keys to finger holes, musical instruments in every culture have provided ways to easily access musical ideas quickly. But these are physical, acoustic instruments, so any solution they find is more or less restricted to a single set of choices. Digital hardware can do what digital software can: it can be a blank slate for new ideas. The monome and Tenori-On grid instruments, each in their own way, demonstrated that a radically simple grid can generate a surprising range of possibilities. The monome’s claim to fame, above its other applications, was the way a companion Max patch …


Ableton Push: Integrated, Touch-Sensitive Hardware Control for Live [Details]

Now, Ableton is doing its own hardware. Sure, Ableton’s logo was on the Akai APC40 and Novation Launchpad, and yes, “engineering by Akai” is stamped on the Push. But make no mistake: this is really the first Ableton hardware, and it shows. Push is a grid controller with extra keys and encoders for navigating features. It shows the influence of devices like the monome (and divides up that grid like the Pages and 7up patches from the community). But it also includes controller features that are specifically integrated with Live, recalling custom controllers used by Monolake. Ableton pitches this as …


In An Explosion of Keys, a DIY Isomorphic Instrument

Alternative key layouts have popped up in commercial hardware and now iPad apps and such, but there’s nothing like trying to build something to grasp how it works. An intrepid group of makers who call themselves Louisville Soundbuilders are working now to clone the C-Thru Music AXiS-64. The goal: their own, original instrument that uses the isomorphic array of keys the AXiS does, which by organizing notes by harmonic interval makes complex melodies and harmonies much simpler than on traditional fretted instruments and keyboards. You can see results in the video. (It doesn’t make sound until the very end. This …