The Monome is small and elegant, but there’s something to be said for traditional instrumental controllers like a keyboard. So why not combine them? David Phipps of the electronic jam band Sound Tribe Sector 9 did just that, and sends CDM this photo of the project in process. He’s off on a five week tour starting Friday, so it’ll be on hold for a bit, but even not-quite-done I had to share it. David writes:

i hope to bring ‘The Peaceblaster’ on tour in the fall. note the unashamed reference to our album available July 8th:)
i picked up a 5-octave fatar keybed and MKE electronics from doepfer via analog haven.  he carries 2-5 octave bare keybeds with simple channel/octave controls, all fatar (the highest quality italian-made keybeds you can get…and doepfer is the ONLY place you can order a
keybed from fatar without being a manufacturer). the 8 knobs and faders are the doepfer PKE, a super simple plug and play solution that could have been a midibox or arduino. add a edirol midi>usb cable, usb hub, and multi-voltage power supply and i’ve got one power plug, one usb
port, and midi out to drive hardware synths.
i’ve left room in the enclosure for a mac mini (or small form factor pc or linux box)…but that’ll be a stretch of my willpower to get it done.

I’d call it a keynome. (For the record, the product name monome rhymes with Ma Gnome, not Ma No May or ole.)

About that new album: it’s available independently through the artists. Their freebie add-ons are really interesting. The CD pre-order includes a coupon to watch a rehearsal online. But the Fan Pack is even better: aside from the CD, which includes fully-recycled packaging, it adds a 1GB STS9-designed flash drive with the digital album, video from DemocracyNow!, photos, screensavers, and the like, an autographed picture of the band, a handmade doll, a download coupon for a live show, a print with a box of crayons to color in your own design, a poster, a 7" vinyl, and other extras. US$99.99. Even if you’re not an STS9 fan, there are some good ideas for artists looking to make music purchases tangible again — especially if they have a fanbase this loyal. See their merch site for all the goods.

I especially like the crayons.


Sound Tribe Sector 9 vs. Monome: Video, 8by16

Building a Custom Monome Controller, with STS9’s David Phipps

  • apalomba


  • Wes

    awesome, and im also glad whoever put that the monome is pronounced Mon. Ome. Rather than Mon. O. Me

    Mo No Me is a silly name for it.

  • Chris Hahn

    Uh oh, someone is stirring the pot. There's an ongoing discussion over at about the pronunciation. I think the verdict is that there isn't a right pronunciation, or a wrong one.

  • poorsod

    the guys that make it call it the "mon-ome"

  • adam

    I like pronouncing it Mo' Gnome. As in "more gnome!" Can never have too much gnome, or cow bell for that matter.

    Very slick instrument btw. It's giving me gear envy.

  • bliss

    Mon-Ohm was how I heard it first. So I stayed with that. But I'd bet anything that folks are pronouncing it in a way that fits best with their local dialects.

    "Shitty Shtreets of Philly?" "Whatayou, retahdid? Boston." Etc.

  • I'm kind of inclined to go with the pronunciation used by Brian and Kelli, which is also the most natural pronunciation in English, which I see was ultimately the conclusion on the monome forum. If you're from somewhere else I could see it being up for interpretation.

    Anyway. I can say, uh, definitively, Moog rhymes with brogue.

    I also dare someone to custom paint their monome with Ma Gnome. Hmmm… maybe I'll have to do that with mine.

  • Cool Stuff there

  • lematt

    all i can say is WOW

  • that is wicked cool!

  • gbsr

    im going with mon-ohm me.

    i can also see myself having tons of fun with this keynome (key-gnome?).

    very slick controller, that.

  • so much for minimalist interfaces i guess.

    it kind of reminds me of glueing an ipod to the front of one of those big 80's boomboxes with way too many knobs and graphic EQs for each channel.

    it's just does not sit right.

  • @marc: Well, design aesthetics aside, the thing is David's a keyboardist. So his alternative is having to switch between interfaces onstage. Having it all in one unit could well be more convenient for actually playing.

  • J

    Not to switch the topic, and I'm not really a fan of STS9 (I've enjoyed some of their stuff that I've heard, but I can't over the fact that they're a jam band, because I hate jam bands), but they're living proof that record companies are increasingly irrelevant outside of a very narrow slice of "popular" music (and, in the USA, maybe country music). Think about it: a major label would have no clue to market them successfully, but these guys have built a solid career by working their butts off and playing concerts constantly to build up a solid, though not giant, base of loyal, like-minded fans. And now technology is at the point where they can self-release an album on their own terms, including a release that will please the hell out of their most dedicated fans. Will they ever be filling arenas or playing on American Idol? Clearly not, but who cares – they're making a good living making the music they want to through hard work and dedication. Rock on, electro-hippies!

  • hey peter, yeah i understand what he was trying to do, and it does make sense for touring and keeping all of your gear together.

    but aesthetics are a huge part of what attracts people to devices and also effects how they interact with them. that's all i was referencing.

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  • David

    It seems pretty minimalist to me.

  • Kimmy Gibbler

    So is a monome a monophonic keyboard? Good job.

  • Jalew


    You have it wrong my friend. Your arguments against STS9 are dated. Even their most loyal fans will tell you that they are no longer a jamband. In fact, the didn't even improvise at last night's Rothbury Music Festival performance. Also, you are wrong on them "filling arenas". They sell out HUGE venues, like Red Rocks, for multiple nights. I guess your hate for jambands has got you so cynical that you feel the need to hate on music you are unfamiliar with. That is unfortunate.

    Cool article though!

  • Hey, people are entitled to their personal musical tastes. STS9 has described *themselves* as a "5-piece electronic jam band fusing live instruments with "electronica"." And I think that's pretty apt. It's clear they're nothing like a traditional jam band, and a big part of their set is indeed often a straight set of songs. It's a point of reference, like anything else, and of course you should go out and try to hear the music and decide for yourself.

  • thanks for the comments, and of course thanks peter for posting our album on the hallowed CDM.

    @marc…i agree, i give myself a C- for aesthetic..kind of a proof of concept as i get more confident with the soldering iron and drillpress. i'd love to have a folded steel enclosure made…in the meantime laser-cut acrylic is a quick way to take a box of pots and move towards something that actually makes music. the next one i make, well….ha

    ps. peaceblaster, the album is out now…and yes, it is my jam.

  • Thank you

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    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

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