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

Esoteric Sequencer Prototype – Ambient Session from Rick Hawkins on Vimeo.

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 from Michael Chenetz on Vimeo.

max4live.info: Mu-tations: Part 1 – An Intro to Mu (Beta) [note the video was uploaded by special permission]

  • Mudo

    Price? It is Free for Lemur users?

    They are two cool devices (but I prefer push buttons as you know Peter)


  • Armando

    Peter I agree with you. But lately I have been watching a lot of demos of recent works and temeplates and the lemur looks to run sluggish. The responses were not very fluid, it's almost as if the processor inside the guts of this thing can't handle the new ui's. Considering the only update they've really had was to address the film on the screen from bubbling, there's no plans for a more up to date unit? More specifically the demo when he's using the lemur with max for live on their news site seems to be the big gripe. Is that a software tweaking thing maybe?

    Think the ipad has everyone woo'd over the fact that it's an HD display and way faster processor = quick response.. With the dock connector able to transmit data, you don't think jazzmutant might release a mini lemur app? I only ask cause you're the only person I know who's close enough to know those French dudes. 🙂 thanks Peter!

  • Don't get me wrong: I'm not necessarily holding up the Lemur as a perfect device. I'm bemused myself that we still don't have more actual computer displays with multitouch. I was originally critical of the Lemur for that reason. The iPad incidentally is sub-HD, but more importantly its other restrictions suggest it will be used as a controller, not a dedicated music device. In other words, the iPad is still at best Lemur-like for this application. While we wait for fully multitouch computing, then, I find I have a lot to learn from the Lemur.

  • s0undc10ud

    Come on guys… 1-2 years ago this was all u wished from a Lemur!.. And finally its here. i am sure Jazzmutant's guys will get over these little bugs and glitches u all mention. But hey…me myslef among a lot of other people waited for so long about this "template-ableton-mode". it was the only reason i haven't bought the lemur yet. i think we should just wait a bit and see this template getting evolved. i am so sure it will..

  • Well, and I'll put it this way — I sort of take it for granted that, at some point, you'll get the multitouch device you want, whether it's a cheap pad, an iPad, a Lemur, whatever.

    At this point, I'd say I'm even more interested not just which gadget you pick up, but how you use it — and that is likely to suggest some solutions and ideas common to all of these boxes. Long after they're forgotten, those ideas may stick. How else to explain that we're still using ADSR envelopes introduced on ancient modulars?

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  • synthetic

    I hope that they have a low-cost device coming, or else iPad will put them out of business in about a year.

  • Okay, let me explain – that may seem the case, but not if you consider the bigger context:

    1. Lemur was never a high-volume device. Period. That means HUGE iPad sales could have zero result.

    2. Lemur is not the company's only income source. The parent company has a huge pile of multi-touch IP and an evolving business in OEM. That means, the better that iPad does, the better that business could do — and Lemur could still have a place attracting business to the real money-maker, the OEM stuff.

  • @armando

    can you provide some links of the sluggishness you are talking about ?

    I think you are probably referring to the sluggishness which happens when trying to have live, two-way dataflow with LIVE's API to keep the interface up-to-date. this sluggishness is down to the API, not any hardware limitations of the lemur. Any interface developer will have to deal with or overcome the same sluggishness irrespective of what hardware they intend to employ.

    Jazzmutant have come up with a solution for this, which they call 'performance mode' ..it takes snapshots of the information provided by the API, and subsequently allows you to browse menus/interfaces etc super quick. No doubt anyone attempting to make an interface like 'mu' will have to come up with a similar solution if not an identical one.


    as peter was saying, the ipad is going to be a huge success regardless. it's not going to be a huge success because of nerds like us controlling our vsts with OSC, and the iPad's success won't necessitate the demise of jazzmutant's lemur. jazzmutant are the multimedia branch of a bigger company who are pioneers in the multi-touch industry and operate on the industrial level. as long as they're doing well, and jazzmutant isn't losing money – i don't see how jazzmutant is in danger.

    besides all that, the lemur is built like a tank, and it's purpose built for multi-media artists. Apple don't have to promise you that the iPad will handle your OSC needs, but jazzmutant are held to the standards of professional artists. and it shows, if you've ever actually used one.

    going back to the sluggishness thing again, I'm pretty sure it's the API you're talking about… if not could you please post some links because I've never noticed sluggishness with the lemur, or on online demos.

    You should look up

    Lemur Live Integration – Part I.avi

    Lemur Live Integration – Part II.avi

    on youtube, where one of the jazzmutant's explains the live integration via MaxforLive, the sluggishness of the API, and their solution. 20 mins in total, not great quality, but quite informative in parts.

  • mat

    Hey, thanks for posting my work.

    just to put 1 thing right: Rick did the EsoWave-sequencer, the SequencoMAT-series is done by me (mat), there is also a written desription: http://www.tonvibration.de/extra/SequencomatV2.ht

    I never experienced any "sluggishness" on the Lemur. And projects like Rick´s Esowave show that even extensiv modules work fine. Well, if it comes to complex variable calculation the Lemur sometimes got a delay of a few milliseconds (thats why most sequencers are done in max), but these are far beyond a normal control surface…

    One limitation of the Lemur lays in the 4 MB capacity. Thats enough for many interfaces…. but my sequencer got over 500 interactive graphical elements and so the limit is pretty much reached. So what I find interesting in the MU-video is, that it seems that the devices are loaded on the fly, what will be a nice workaround that limitation!

    MU show that developement on the Lemur is still not dead… but of course Ipad will come. And as it will be a massproduct, there will be some guy who write a kind of "Lemur"-app one day. (Touch OSC is already a nice app and that "max to Iphone bridge"…wow)

    btw: I wonder, like Peter, that this hasn´t been done before: even on a mono-touch screen a editor for controls is great. Building your controls hardly influences your output (which doesn´t necessarily mean you make "better" music, but other music then before). But most of all – it is great fun. Love my Lemur.


  • vanceg

    I, too, am still lovin my Lemur. And MU surely makes Lemur/Live interaction even simpler and more appealing to most anyone who wants to use the combination. The fact that you no longer have to manually map OSC or MIDI controls to specific parameters in Live is HUGE HUGE HUGE!

    Though I, like most people on the planet, haven't seen the iPad yet – I can barely imagine that it would be built to nearly the ruggedness of the Lemur (I've been pretty impressed by what this thing can take!).

    Though I'm 110% sure someone will write a Lemur-like application for the iPad, I think there will still be a pretty huge group of people who will want/need the sturdy-ness of the Lemur and the ease of use that comes with MU's automapping.

    There will also likely be a fair sized group of people who find that MU doesn't fit their specific needs and want a (potentially) more 'open' environment like the iPad.

    To Mat: YES- My one big complaint about the Lemur is this lack of memory! I so frequently run out of memory and find myself going through great gyrations to figure out how to be much more efficient with my layouts so I'm not using as many objects. I DO wish we could do something about this on the Lemur. Otherwise – I'm thrilled with Lemur and MU looks fantastic!

  • Ulhuru


    I am sort of thrilled to, I will not have to remap when adding a channel in live, right? (ie dynamic mapping?)

    Any idea when will that Mu thing be available?

    And at what cost?

  • The mapping only works for top level devices. You can't access devices that are inside a rack.

    The dynamic mapping is easy. All those menu's you see came as default tools with the M4L install.

    And with the observer objects you can check if tracks are added/removed.

  • mat

    @ Björn

    as I get it right, you can insert any effect, choose it as "device" and have a immediatley, specific control surface.

    That "toplevel" argument just means, that if you have a rack, you control the macros (as supposed to be on racks)… and I bet you can even choose different control surfaces for that macrocontrol (e.g. a ball or some faders or another special controlsurface you just had build before) – that would be a nice advantage over the MPC40 where you control your macros always with the 8 knobs…

    I think based on the M4l information this could be done with other apps too (e.g. Ipad)… but we are still waiting for the hardware and software developement will also take time. So it seems that for another year the Lemur is the cheerleader of multitouch 😉

  • Yeah, that is how it works. Hopefully we'll see some improved control with future updates of Live.

  • tufted

    Maybe I miss something, but what about appz. like TouchOSC for iPhone? If it comes out for iPad then you have a Lemur sized multitouch controller with a configurable surface. Tadaaa!

  • tufted

    … what I've missed is vanceg's comment 😉

  • Armando

    Peep, been trying to dig through the mutant chat forums to find the video. But your response is extremely informative thanks a lot!

  • Christian Blomert

    As already said on the OSC news:

    There is already a similiar app to Jazzmutants Mu for iPod Touch/iPhone using TouchOSC. An adapted & expanded version for iPad will be ready on release.

    This is what it looks like on iphone/ipod touch:

    more information can be found here:



  • createdigitalmusic.com, how o you do it?

  • mat

    @ Christian Blomert

    that is a great piece of software!

    Anyhow, as far as I get it, it is fixed to a special setup (14channel) and doesn´t change automatically if you change in Ableton. Furthermore you got no dynamic template load, you can not design your own controls, and it got no physics on the objects… so there is still a reasonable gap to the Lemur and MU.

    This is not agains your(?) software, I just wanted to point out some details that make a big difference for me. (on the other hand is the price…I know)

  • Christian Blomert


    you're right, Mixer, Sends etc are limited to max 14 channels, only the cliplauncher is unlimited. This will be changed in the ipad version though.

    We're currently working on an ipad app with dynamic template load and a few other things to get closer to what the Lemur has to offer – possibilities right now are limited. Especially the dynamic device templates & physic objects are awesome and not yet possible on iphone/ipad.

    I'm not quite sure if this gap will last a year though 🙂

    Or maybe Jazzmutant actually releases their LemurOS as an app for the ipad? 😉



  • Damian

    As a Lemur owner, I'm finally going to say it. I've had it with JazzMutant. They are struggling for relevance in an area soon to be firmly in the grasp (and price point) of consumer electronics. We are beyond the need for strictly closed hardware and software solutions and by the looks of things on this board, few people truly realize it.

    Everybody loves to gripe about Apple's 'closed' system of allowing people to code up anything they want for the iPad/iPhone (and no, btw you don't have to distribute it via the app store you don't want to)– but they fail to see small boutique manufacturers like JazzMutant seemingly sitting on their hands. Sure the scripting additions to the Lemur App are great but where are the out of box integrations with software packages? How about an HCI working group? Where are UI object refinements? How about memory upgrades? Controller upgrades to reduce latency, etc? How about a hybrid Lemur with actual knobs on it? What about a mixed Lemur/Dexter mode that doesn't have to run in a Dual Boot config? The answer– nowhere.

    While JazzMutant have seemingly spent ample time on their other commercial ventures, they've taken their eye off of the product that they already have a modest market penetration in. I'm sure they saw this as a business risk going in to things. Guess what guys– to this point, the risk has failed. Anybody remember the multi-touch laptop these guys were demoing 3 years ago? Well, we're all about to get that in the form of an iPad in a few weeks.

    Dedicated Lemur users have seen no relevant bug fixes and updates for months on end and don't get me started on the Dexter. Lemur memory is hamstrung, limited, and lets face it– nobody needs 10+ point multitouch on a 12 inch screen. As soon as a user gets motivated to develop interfaces of moderate complexity requiring more than 2-3 screens of interface controls– BAM, you run straight into the chief problem with the platform. No more memory. I've built many highly complex yet intuitive interfaces in my HCI studies with the Lemur…and sometimes, the vision just doesn't translate.

    While Lemur users such as myself continue to grow mold, I will be looking towards the TouchOSC team to up the ante on JazzMutant. A word to the Mutants– ditch the current hardware and get cracking on some low latency software solutions that will actually result in market penetration, increased OSC adoption, and a general increase in demand for flexible interfaces. I've used a Lemur extensively for five years– I'm tired of the limitations and of the grandiose announcements when less than spectacular 'upgrades' are announced.

    Will 'Mu' be another $300-$500 upgrade? Kudos on the announcement but– big. stinking. deal. Some will buy- but I predict that most long-time users will pass on this.

    Word to Ableton– develop, progress, and open up your API already! Enough is enough. I've seen people pulling their hair out for years trying to figure this out with limited success. This is just ridiculous.

  • prevolt

    Hey Damian–as another Lemur owner, I completely hear you. I got mine at the start of 2007. They had been releasing software updates with new control objects every couple months, the possibilities seemed infinite, they had a vocal user base that included Andreas from the Covert Operators and a bunch of other brilliant people, it goes on and on. Unfortunately aside from complaining about the price, no one back then was discussing its obvious limitations–not JM or the forums, not reviews, not anywhere.

    So I took on a ton of extra work & saved the cash to buy the thing. I ran into the latency, the jumping volume faders, & the memory limitations almost immediately. I was loving the parser & physics stuff but the latency & memory limit shut me down somehow every time.

    I stayed active with the forum talking about what was up, thinking at the rate they've been updating all this would get fixed soon, then they drop Dexter. No support for Live, when nearly EVERY Lemur user I knew of used Live for one thing or other. The press goes on complaining about how inferior "other" controllers are, the Lemur was a de facto target of that insult, and they didn't do anything to fix it. Then it's Stantum instead of Lemur, with all the bugs you mentioned, & I just quit thinking about it.

    But I checked the demo out and it really seems OK. It's like finally getting Dexter. They could have done parts of this before, and why the hell didn't they? Something like 5 other hardware companies beat them to the punch designing and actually manufacturing Live controllers, when JM could have done it with a software update. They didn't need M4L to do something impressive. It wouldn't have been this good, but it would have been huge. I hope they see that.

    But they better not "ditch the current hardware." I'm with you on everything else, but the Mutants better keep Mu free and working like a dream through at least Live 12. And go ahead and download the thing, it's fun.

  • prevolt

    EDIT- meant to say the Dexter press release was the thing that said every other controller was inferior, not the press.

  • mat

    Well, I totaly understand Damian and Prevolt. I am frustrated myself regarding some jazzmutant aspects. (So I am not blind enthusiatic or so)

    But we have to realize that JM is a small company (don´t mix it up with stantum). Small means: 3 people (and even not everyone of theses got a fulltime-job!) and they sold maybe 2000 Lemurs in 5 years. That isn´t enough to keep the engine running. And it is a reason for the price. If you produce millions of Ipads the price drops. To me it seems funny that so many people are angry with the pricing. I spent so much more money years ago for synths and mixer and other hardwarestuff… And people are willing to pay 800$ for a 16X16 button matrix – nothing against the monome, but just to illustrate how a small company have higher hardware prices (due to higher costs based on only a few units)

    Anyway – you as a customer have not to care about this. You just want a cheap working tool. So wait for the Ipad.

    For sure the Ipad will change the touchscreen market. And there are nice apps. If I said "the Lemur will be the cheerleader of multitouch for another year" it doesn´t mean that there are no other pretty girls dancing around 😉 And hopefully it will not be only the Ipad, but also other touchscreens this size who come to the market (not only for music purpose, I think this is a new kind of tool we need in between the phone and the laptop) and – after a while – there will be apps for controlling music on these. So Lemurs exclusive days are gone.

    As said: I wonder that there is no other software to build your own controls on touchscreens…the only one I know so far is "usine"…again a very small french company. http://www.sensomusic.com/usine/

    Nevertheless- the future will be great… we have just started with the individualisation of control. And beeing a electronic musican for over 20 years now, I never had dreamed that this revolution will go that fast. It is simpley fun to be part of it.

  • Damian

    @ prevolt

    I hear you man. My main gripe is rooted in the area of waiting to see whether or not JM drop this as a 'pay for play' scenario or whether or not we actually do get this for free. I have equal disregard for Ableton right now based on their almost total deafness to the overwhelming desire to have access to their API for simple control purposes. Heck, I probably would have paid for the privilege 3 years ago.

    My adamance in the area of Lemur memory and latency also failed to touch on the fact that as your interface grow in complexity– so does the latency. I have been heartened by the fact that TouchOSC and Automap on the iPhone seem to be much lower in latency and 'touch errors' such as the jumping faders– which I have experienced in live performance situations. Resistive touch is dead and JM really need to just move on. Bubbles on the screen?!! I was awestruck at that one.

    @mat– I understand the JM resource limitation. However, what I can't support is hardware that was running at about $2500 when I purchased– coupled with software that has kind of just died on the vine. What angered me the most was seeing the 'secret' demos on Youtube of the unlabeled JM multitouch laptop concept. All I could think about was 'where are the benefits in this for current Lemur owners?' I definitely agree with you on the touch screen front… we have very few options and now we are kind of stuck with current Lemur limitations. In many ways, the Lemur does remain relevant. It won't end world hunger or indeed, allow you to build interface that scale well. It does provide a decent environment to work with under reasonable conditions– though I forecast that the pricepoint will lead to its demise once iPad application ability/latency concerns have been vetted and verified.

    On that note– TouchOSC, please get to work on building a scripting framework similar to the JM approach. What truly sets the Lemur apart is the ability to script impossible control combinations into one button presses or parameter changes. Also, please add native LFO and sequencing capabilities 😉

  • Ted

    Lemur software on an ipad would be cool.

  • Nice post. createdigitalmuisic.cml deserves an oscar.


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