Even online, words have a tendency to linger long after you write them. And I recognize that the risk here is not only what those words mean to me, but others, too. So I want to revisit a topic today in the interest of moving forward.

I wrote a kneejerk post earlier in the life of CDM about MonoTouchLive, a single-touch interface with UI widgets inspired by JazzMutant’s Lemur. MonoTouchLive was (and is) Windows-only, standalone software for controlling Ableton Live. It’s now free of cost.

I’ll be honest: in my original post, I overreacted, and I didn’t choose my words as carefully as I should have. Some regular readers called me out on it at the time. Since that time, I’ve tried to be more careful. Some comment threads referred back to it, though, and the developer, Pablo Martin, has continued to push his tool and has been outspoken about not liking what I wrote.

It’s now clear to me that I can’t just let this go, as Mr. Martin today has posted a multi-page diatribe focused largely on my short, now nearly three-year-old blog post.

A little of JUSTICE please

To be clear: I got carried away. I have since come to the realization that copying – loosely or closely – isn’t such a bad thing. They’re a learning process, and if something really is original, it does tend to shine through.

Also, to my knowledge, Mr. Martin is correct: the layout on the Lemur was apparently a mock-up to show what the Lemur would look like if configured with the layout of the MonoTouchLive. I incorrectly said that both the widgets and layout had been copied, as I misunderstood the image I saw. Axou created that design as part of a thread with some complaints about the similarity to the Lemur widgets, but I now try to make CDM less like a quick forum post.

I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with MonoTouchLive. It may indeed be useful to some people, and I expect (as I even said in that original, ill-advised post) that the growing availability of affordable touch and multitouch screen hardware will mean many more such creations and ideas. DJTechTools even suggested a US$250 solution involving something like MonoTouchLive and a small, USB-powered external display:

The $250 Lemur

There are some of Mr. Martin’s remaining contentions, however, with which I still take some issue. First, he implies that this was some sort of ongoing thread on CDM. It wasn’t; there were two stories out of several thousand, but as is clear from the URLs he copied, they were posted on the same day, September 11, 2006. I don’t know what was going on with me that day, but I should have thought before I published. I understand his frustration, though – because I didn’t write a follow-up post, those stories continued to come up on Google. But, at least I can say truthfully, I didn’t mean for this to become an ongoing issue.

Second, while it’s true that MonoTouchLive didn’t copy a Lemur layout, it did clearly copy the look of the Lemur interface widgets. My original appeal, if poorly worded, was for creativity and variety, and I stand by that now. Mr. Martin is clearly a developer with some skill, and I’d love to see something that looks different. I stand by that criticism now as before – and because I’d love to see new visual ideas.

It’s worth noting, in fact, that I wasn’t alone – jaded, perhaps, by people copying designs instead of making their own, many in the Ableton forum responded the same way. The lesson here is, if something is a copy, you may want to acknowledge that and explain your intentions. The lesson for the rest of us is, we probably should have considered the author’s intentions before responding.

Lastly, while “JUSTICE” claims Dexter “saw the light” of MonoTouchLive’s fixed layout, I still like the idea of modular, editable layouts over fixed layouts. It’s part of the whole advantage of a touchscreen over hardware. The “JUSTICE” article also implies – intentionally or not – that JazzMutant was following MonoTouchLive’s lead, which I think is unlikely. That said, I’m sure MonoTouchLive could be useful to someone with a fixed layout, and they have their advantages – muscle memory, for one.

What Really Matters to Me: Looking Forward

I won’t say anything more about this matter. I think what JazzMutant did was really important, and I think MonoTouchLive is a worthy idea. But what I’m most interested to cover in the future is work that takes touch in new directions.

For touch and multi-touch to really catch on, I think these interfaces need to be substantially different in function and experience than conventional hardware knobs and faders. I’d aim that criticism at JazzMutant as much as I would at MonoTouchLive. I’m really eager to see more experimentation. I shouldn’t have pushed that desire on Mr. Martin and his work, though, and for that, I’m sorry.

Just complaining in this case was out of line. I believe criticism and frank criticism is part of the function of blogs – not pulling any punches, as the saying goes. But I also believe in being constructive, and I think those comments weren’t.

I expect I’ll continue to make mistakes, and I will be the first to defend the value of writing frankly on the Web – warts and all – and responding. It’s because of a few years of doing that, in fact, that I think I have a different perspective in 2009 than in 2005 and 2006 – because of your feedback. So always keep it coming.

I don’t view my role as a cheerleader, in case that isn’t already clear. But because I believe in the value of criticism, I’ll be working harder than ever to make sure it’s the right kind. Comment threads are comment threads, but I hope we’ll all consider that we’re leaving words for strangers around the world.

  • It's all good, Peter: I've been trying to use the MTL app with my X61 tablet for weeks now. The MIDI support has been totally inconsistent and it crashes my OS constantly. You can call this interface whatever you want; for now, to me, it's just another piece of software that doesn't work.

  • Wow, just read the saga, and good on you, Peter, for trying to bring the issue to a close.

    Either way, I wish Pablo success with his project, and FWIW, I'm headed in the "abandon all forms of Windows for Linux" direction (albeit not in any extreme rush); maybe he'll have a better audience there (unless the competition is also operating in that space).

    And Peter, I've just cottoned to your blog this very night; keep up the good work. 🙂

    Now… sleeeeeeeep.

  • Sounds good, I updated the post on my site with links to his response, as well as yours. I wasn't able to find MTL free for download on Pablo's site, but I am looking forward to his version 3.

  • thesimplicity, you probably downloaded and tested old version of software, some sites have no direct links to my site and host older version of my software.
    Under older version, yes my aplication have some troubles can make the MTL crash, but never the OS, early versions have few troubles and that is absolutly real, but already fixed.
    Never MIDI is inconsitent, the toruble is related to some version of ableton 7.xx and some troubles are knowed bugs of ableton 7.
    I higlly sugest for all abletons 7 users just use 7.0.15 version if you have some specific trouble please contactme for check why that happen if you want.
    High number of djs/producers use my software for more of the last 2 years without any OS crash and just reporting minimal bugs usually faster fixed.
    The great dj producer Maetrik use my software across international gigs for a little less around one complete year without troubles. Thankyou to Maetrick for trust in my project from early stages, really apreciated.
    Thesimplicity, probably you have very older version, really dont know…. i can try to debug for see what is your trouble, just contactme if you want.

    Perter Kirn, thanks to you for make all clear no matter if you like or not my software. But i really apreciate finally see on this site very clear information about that controversy generated for that infamous picture, today i upgrade my website with this article.
    Thankyou!! really apreciated!

    Bernie Pallek, im are early adopoter of windows 7, and after 5 yers using mac i can really say windows 7 is the best product from Microsoft and finally i leave OSX and back to windows, just sugest try this 5 of may the RC candidate, just the best OS from MS in the history.

    Thank you again Peter Kirn, and please check my website today if yoiu want see my gratitude after this clarification on that infamous photo.

    Best Regars

    Pablo Martin

  • Pingback: DJ TechTools : DIY Touchscreen Interface | Key Of Grey()

  • Alright, Pablo, you seem like a straight shooter; I will take a closer look at Windows 7. (I wasn't very impressed by the initial "what's new?" list, but perhaps the important things (sub-system stability, like USB, security-in-your-face-stuff) were glossed over in the early reviews I saw; for instance, people seemed to be hype about the "show desktop" icon being integrated into the taskbar and stuff like that).

    Anyway, it's great to see all the good vibes here; I declare this "the best possible outcome after a tragic misunderstanding".

    Pablo, your project is a cool idea; I ended up going for a KS Pro 88 about a year and a half ago, because I wanted some "physical" way to interact with my music production. In retrospect, I think a system like yours would suit me better. Sadly, I'm currently poor and touchscreen-less, however my job involves touchscreens, so I will try out MTL at work.

    One more thing you might want to add to your site is a tutorial video showing a basic demonstration up-close; some people, like myself, are still ramping up on "modern methods" for music production and a video tutorial could help "hook" us.

    And again, Peter, your site is excellent; hats off to you and your crew. I'll be digging around here for a while. 😀

  • Armando

    I come to this site for knowledge and insight into other ideas and avenues to express myself differently than other people. That's why I like coming to this site, although I appreciate the white flag on both ends of the table, I say lets keep the focus driving like it has been. This is your blog to say whatever you want. That's what constructive criticism is for, if someone doesn't speak up nothing will ever change in this world. MonoTouchLive is a great piece of software, and trust me I've been developing smaller touch computers to try to control my MBP. Peter you've been doing this for a long time, you have a vast amount of knowledge this is why I come to your site. No matter what approach you decide to take, people should keep an open mind and make decisions for themselves. Just because you don't like it doesn't me we have to. That's the beauty of this world, you can freely express yourself, and free to THINK FOR YOURSELF!

  • Armando

    other users just need to keep an open mind when it comes to tech and hardware reviews is the point I'm getting at. Sorry its early on a saturday, time to nap and burn.

  • Criticism is not only healthy, It is completely necessary.

    Sometimes big corps try to eat small developers and sometimes misunderstanding becomes the reason for start flames…

    Blog Heads have a Great responsability under your fingers.

    Keep indenpendent point of views, nobody couldn't blame of your POV instead himselfs but is really healthy keep oneself independent when becomes voice of the net.

    Almost define your POV and let people choice be your side or not.


  • I'm certainly not apologizing for my opinions or criticism. I think in this case my ranting got in the way of being clear about what it was I was saying. "Constructive criticism" doesn't mean not being critical – it means being clear.

  • Dylan

    Hello, sorta short time reader, first time caller:
    One of my favorite things about this blog/news-source is that it has feeling from the person writing it.
    I would rather read someone's blog who disagrees with every single thing and is a curmudgeon about everything–as long as they have reasons to back it up–then someone who chooses a middle of the road, make-everyone-happy style.
    That being said, (I don't think) you don't do that PK and I like reading these biased posts about interesting things.
    Ramble, ramble, ramble…

  • Don't worry — I'm not navigating to the middle of the road. 😉

    I even promise more rants – I think it's just important to be clear why I'm ranting, and actually suggest what I think a solution might be. And part of the reason I'm also not shy about that is I know there are folks around to disagree with me, too – that's what this is all about. I think the days where people look to some sort of Authoritative Voice for Wisdom is gone, which is a good thing – everyone has a chance to learn.

  • Funny, I don't remember the original post as being all that negative. I was thrilled to see this less expensive alternative.

    At the time I also thought about how much we, the consumers, would have benefited from another company making a product similar to Ableton Live. However, the point could be made that true originals continue to innovate … like Bob Moog.

    I even went as far as to contact Pablo with a clearer translation for the English version of the text on his web page. It remimded me of my correspondence with the people behind the Monome.

    Hopefully Peter doesn't penalize you for not being Twitter enabled. What Pablo Martin is doing is far more innovative and groundbreaking than the endless Glitch Circuit Bending hacks often celebrated on this Blog. None of us are ever going to actually get a Reactable but I think most CDM readers would love to see some enthusiasm and support for this or whoever in turn rips this guy off.

  • Bernie Pallek, i forgot comment this:
    If some day Ableton run under linux + MAX FOR LIVE…….wow Bernie !! that day i kick windows osx and all…..
    I really love linux, but i cant run Ableton under linux for now, and ableton is my only one and central tool.
    About windows 7 i really love just because work, just really work how should do : )

  • Wow, Pablo, I have definitely been in the dark for a long time, as I never checked into Live. A friend once suggested it, but when he described it, I didn't really catch on, I suppose; I come from the old "tracker" days, so I was happy with Buzz for a long time, and then drifted away from music production altogether for a while. Now I'm looking at BEAST (BSE) — it's a lot of work (even moreso than Buzz, TBH) setting up the "machines", but it allows the kind of fine-tuning nitpickery that I love. :-] Basically, I hope to get my KS Pro 88 "wired" to some BEAST machines, and then the real fun can begin. And yes, Live on Linux would be a treat, I reckon — from the hoards of enthusiastic users I've encountered to this point.

    My best to all on the thread here; civil yet not milque-toast — and damn all who disagree! 😀

  • RCUS

    @ Peter: thank you for this site and all the great info it's given me for the past 6 months (including the original post regarding MTL)!

    @ Pablo: thanks for providing a kick ass controller option to add to my open labs miko touchscreen! i plan on using MTL live next year and I will keep you posted if i do anything worth showing off with it. your new quick guide really helps by the way!

    also, i know it's a pricey unit, and kind of counter-intuitive to the idea of a cheap touch-screen controller, but you should look into a licensing deal with Open Labs since all their gear is touch-screen.

    now… all this touchy-feely shit is great, but maybe we can have some sort of Pablo Martin vs. Peter Kirn "Battle of the Beats" using touchscreens only!! your readers would love that much more i reckon!

  • Johnny Horizon

    @Bernie: if you were a buzz user, maybe you should look at Aldrin or Buzztard on linux. Also, join the linux-audio-users mailing list if you haven't already.

  • Marquis-boy

    Lemur, MonoTouchLive – all great, fabulous ideas, and perhaps fantastic in the studio. But for live use, I think the lack of tactile responsiveness means you will spend more time looking at the screen than looking at your crowd. And nobody wants to watch a musical performer loding a tax return online…

    I think I'll stick with my hardware controllers for now.

  • Sacred Datura

    I find it very funny how defensive people get when being accused of copying another persons idea. Humans learn by imitating each other. So it is inevitable that two people will end up with similar ideas. As both a visual and musical artist it is extremely difficult to be original. So regardless of who is copying who it is good to point out similarities.

    On another point I come to this site to read opinions. So please don't "pull any punches". I want to know if something sucks. Thank you for your honesty.

  • Absolutely. I just do try to aim my punches rather than flail around wildly – if I can help it.

    Now I'm not going to take this metaphor any further…

    I will say, with look and feel, you really do have the power to make things look like whatever you want. So MonoTouchLive aside, music technology from individuals and big companies seems oddly caught in a very narrow set of ideas. It doesn't have to be that way. I'd rather see something ostentatiously ugly that I've never seen before.

  • Nice idea Pablo

  • Hello Pablo and people,

    Monotouchlive is a great great great idea that inspired me two years ago to start my own project

    AdL is more focused in live music shows application. Specially for personal audio monitoring system. But I'm using it for FOH mixing, also. And as midi controller.

    AdL server works on windows, linux or mac.
    AdL client works on any device Flash Player 7 or higher installed (pda, mobile phone, tablet PC, PPC, laptop, etc.)
    You can use it wireless.

    You can find more information, videos and demo download in my site.

    Thanks again Pablo.

    Hasta pronto. Salud.

  • i FORGOT COMMENT VERY IMPORTANT THING! about original article DJ TechTools tutorial "The $250 Lemur"
    I sugest to anyone plain do what this tutorial indicate dont buy 7" touchscreen, the minimum size for use with my software with fingers is 12" not 7" !!
    7" touchscreen only can be usefull with PEN not with finger, my software need like minimum screen 12"

  • Hello Joan Artigas!
    Nice to have news from you : )
    Go ahead with your project.
    Best regards.

  • Hey, I am a Lemur user and I must say "yeah, it looks like a ripoff of the lemur"…but thats not fair. Concrats to you Pablo – go on! And if the switches or fader look equal it is just due to a good ergonomic function – you can´t reinvent the fader! I´m wondering a little what kind of "other" controls Peter want? Maybe just other surfaces/ colors? Because all we do is done by these 2-dimensional objects: Why should I control a volume with something other than a fader? Or with what kind of control a switch should be realised?
    Well, monotouchlive is no lemur because you can not rebuild your interface, you have to use it the way it was designed. And it is the same with the I-phone apps (as i said in another thread). So, did anyone know a "free to design" software for touchscreens (beneath Usine)? Thats what I´m mostly disapointed in: If touchscreen for everyone is coming we need those programs!!! Because just using not editable templates I see no advantage in touchscreens and I would always prefer hardware with haptic feedback. The new dimension is not "touch" it is editable controlsurfaces.
    I build some modules on the Lemur you can watch in my youtube-videos:
    And on 17th of may me and some friends give a concert and also some technical explanation about soft- and hardware we use. So if you live near to Aachen/Germany just come in:

  • @tonvibration: A couple of the iPhone/iPod touch apps absolutely allow you to edit the templates.

    Oscemote uses HTML / JavaScript, which arguably makes creating your own templates easier than on the Lemur.

    mrmr natively uses an XML format – currently requires a Mac editor, but that may not remain the case.

    It seems the ideal would be hardware that lets you edit templates *on the device*. Even the Lemur doesn't currently do that. Very possible, though.

    Your projects look very cool, will talk more soon!

  • Sandor

    It seems that this guy didn't just copy Lemur's GUI, his logo looks like Bitwig, a new software project run by 4 ex-abletons:

  • Sandor, before comment that you really should investigate a little more.
    My logo is created JAN 20 of year 2007, and anyone who follow my project can confirm that logo is showed before BITWIG.COM web page exist.

    Think a bit before writing barbarities.
    BITWIG.COM is a new company and no exist on JAN 20 2007

    If you make a simple WHOIS for the domain BITWIG.COM you can see the doamin is created 2009-02-23
    how i can copy the logo in the year 2007 when the webpage of BITWIG.COM company is available after some moment of this date:



    Domain…….: BITWIG.COM (DOM-267159)
    Status…….: OK
    Amended……: 2009-02-23 10:48:29
    Created……: 2009-02-23 10:48:28
    Expires……: 2010-02-23 10:48:28
    Registrar….: REGISTRAR-3

    Again, think a bit before writing barbarities.

  • oh yes, indeed the logo has similarities with our logo, but we didn't copy it either, i promise, and i think they are still different enough – it's a wig in our case and more abstract in pablo's case. it's funny, when i first read about monotouchlive one week ago i didn't even realize it. and there is another similarity, the name of the guy who invented our logo is also pablo. however … congratulations and all the best to pablo and his monotouchlive project from bitwig!

  • Well, I think, honestly, we are living in a world where all projects has a little bit of others projects. In music, technology, arts, tv or any other field.

    It's impossible to discover a new continent in the Earth planet because we know all (it seems!). So, new ideas allways are inspired for others and this don't mean this ideas are simply copied.

    When I started my project obviously I was inspired for Jazzmutant, Monotouchlive, Reactable, etc. But I has another needs because I'm working mixing live music shows and I need an application oriented to this field and, if possible, with remote control. Am I copying? I think no. I don't use the source code of any comercial company. I'm, only, developing a project for my needs.

    Is Microsoft copyng Apple with multitouch apps? Maybe, I don't know. But I'm sure they are multiple ways to arrive the same place.

    Best wishes.

  • woooow! Volker Schumacher from Bitwig!
    I really love see or know more about the project of this guys…… Claes Johanson, Pablo Sara, Nicholas Allen and Volker Schumacher : = )
    all the best fo you guys!

  • John Silverman

    How many of y’all use samples in your work? Aren’t we in the postmodern age of mashups, sampling, appropriation, etc…? Yes, we are all influenced and inspired by others. Personally, when I realize I’ve subconsciously borrowed a bit too much from someone else (the test being I realize it and it makes me uncomfortable) I abandon or change it radically. It’s clear that Pablo really, really agonized over this whole issue. He seems like an honest guy.

    I’m working on the same concept (2nd VGA touchscreen) monitor as a controller for Logic, or any other application… no other software needed, just dial the screen resolution on the touchscreen to a sufficient size so touching works.

  • John Silverman if you want layour for LOGIC insie MTL, just contactme.