It’s actually paradoxical to talk about music “made” on the monome. The monome, the open controller, is after all, a grid of buttons. It has no sound of its own. But as such, perhaps its design as a blank canvas – without any indication of how a single button may function, without a screenprinted logo or name – that allows computer musicians to project upon it whatever they wish. The monome, more than any other object designed since the emergence of computer performance, is emblematic of what digital music can be. It’s an empty digital grid, like viewing the world of music software under a microscope.
It’s also, therefore, possible for the monome to disappear, leaving behind a spectrum of what people are doing with music on computers. That was what was most striking to me about the music of the monomeet on Saturday in Princeton, NJ: it covered a range of techniques, from glitchy granulation to breakbeat rhythms derived from turntables. Listen to what
In the lineup: tehn (aka Brian Crabtree), the instrument’s creator, playing on the Max/MSP patch mlr that is partly responsible for the monome’s set, through Daedelus, Brian’s friend who helped raise awareness of the strange box of buttons around the world. There are also fantastic sounds from mtn (makingthenoise), picture in the photos here, Edison, ro, %, and altitude sickness.
Here’s what the live sets sounded like. Bet you you can’t hear the monome.
More photos from the event: