We already knew that one Next Big Thing for the Lemur – the specialized multimedia multi-touch controller – would be Ableton Live integration. Having teased that coming functionality, JazzMutant has now revealed the name (“Mu”), as well as a video showing what the features look like. What’s funny to me is that the result is a bit like what I’d imagine Live itself might look like if it were designed for multi-touch screens. That’s a real consideration for all music software UIs, given the direction of computer hardware. But in the meantime, with choices in multi-touch laptops scarce (makers like HP and Lenovo make a handful of models) and quality scarce, the Lemur hangs onto its niche. It comes with a solid set of tools for users to make their own layouts, it has the reliability of wires (which the iPad will lack, since it has no Ethernet port), and dedicated OSC functionality. While it may come to a surprise to those eagerly anticipated the iPad’s arrival next month, the Lemur’s fans are largely unswayed.
One reason is that, cool as Mu is, it isn’t alone. Musicians keep making fascinating control layouts for the Lemur, ones worth noting even if you don’t plan to buy a Lemur for yourself. For instance, Mat of music-interface.com sends along tips from his own work and beyond.
Rick Hawkins goes a different direction entirely from Mu, with a sequencer that’s esoteric enough to have “esoteric” in its name:
The EsoWave sequencer is a project for the Jazzmutant Lemur. It is a esoteric/generative midi sequencer that sends midi notes according to the positions of 32 nodes in a 2D plane. The nodes are connected along an elastic string and can be additionally controlled by two waveforms that drive the X and Y coordinates.
More info on the blog: ILL GOTTEN GAINS: The EsoWave Sequencer
For his part, Mat’s own work on the Sequencomat is full of ideas, with track-independent humanization and tempo, a roll pad X/Y marked by rhythmic subdivision, step sequencers, controllers, and more. Mat’s work shows part of the appeal of the Lemur, which has evolved beyond being a simple controller to be a generator of sequencing data. Just like the old days of hooking up a sequencer modular to a bay of analog synths via patch cords, the Lemur becomes the sequencer and software like Ableton Live simply the sound source.
If you’re wondering why the Lemur fans have remained loyal, this gives you some answers. It proves that a device’s longevity can matter, in an age when (thanks, I’ll admit, to blogs like mine) newness and buzz tends to trump what lasts. While the Lemur may be old news to some, that’s part of the point: it’s taken some time for people to really work out what to do with it. And whether your future is in the Lemur or another device, I always find inspiration in what the Lemur community is doing, thinking more generally about how touch can be used with music. Sometimes my reaction is, honestly “yeah, but jeez, I’d never want to do that” – but then, that’s always why it’s interesting to see other people’s work. And sometimes, it’s just fun to watch.
Side note: if you get fatigued of all this talk of integrating with Ableton Live, fret not. I think we’ll see a lot of ideas around a lot of tools; just to take today’s news as a jumping-off point, note that the Renoise team are still working on their own, friendly API for customization with native OSC control (something Live still lacks). And variety is the spice of life, or at least, of blogs.
Updated – here’s part 1 of an intro by Michael Chenetz to the Mu environment.
max4live.info: Mu-tations: Part 1 – An Intro to Mu (Beta) [note the video was uploaded by special permission]