A few months back, I acquired the Monome that Bre had put together. It’s a neat little device and I was able to hook it up using SerialPyIO to get it to light up, play some games, and communicate over OSC, but I was having trouble making any good sounding music with it, and it was sitting on my shelf, unloved. It also needed an enclosure upgrade – I wanted to slim it down, make it a bit more sturdy, and let the circuits and the glow of the LEDs show through some sexy new clear acrylic.
AwesomeAugust spurred me into action, and I grabbed a template for a enclosure top, cleaned it up a bit, added screw holes, designed slices for the hollow body, and started cutting it on the NYCR Laser. I just managed to make it all fit on one sheet of 12″ x 24″ acrylic. I’ve put the template online and it’s and free for anyone to use/republish, however you like. Once it was sliced, I used acrylic cement to bond it all, snipped out the USB port, and it was good to go!
Making music for free…
While the laser was cutting away and the glue was drying on my new enclosure, I spent some time figuring out what tools to use to make music on the cheap. There’s lots of incredible, expensive software out there, but I’m really just playing around for now, and don’t have $500 to blow on a toy. While the full creative suites are often expensive, several companies make “runtime” versions that you can only use for playing instruments and patches other people have made. I decided on the free MaxMSP runtime, and fired up Edward Loveall‘s “ArpShift” script I found on the Monome forum to start programming sequences and changing their pitch and timing on the fly. It’s a great little script, but I wanted something a little more satisfying to listen to than the standard midi piano and other midi instruments it was playing, so I grabbed Native Instruments free Kontakt player samper and their free instrument sets. There are a lot more great scripts for MaxMSP and .nki instruments for Kontakt available on the web, so even without breaking the bank to roll your own instruments, you can make great sounding music on the fly. You can hear the simple tune I managed in just a few minutes with ArpShift and Kontakt in the video above.
I’m still looking for a good program to record the loops I’m creating with these instruments and assemble them into a song and I may break down and get myself a copy of Ableton Live LE for that. (Anyone know of other options for live loop creation and on the fly multitracking?)
In the meantime, I’ll be playing with my new music creation toy, and Ranjit and I will be teaming up to hook the Monome up to his Player Toy Piano for the NYCR Interactive Party this Saturday. If you want to play with the Monome/Player Toy Piano (or any of a bunch of other neat interactive projects in the works) RSVP, and we’ll see you there!