Owing to a tradition that goes back to the first samplers and hip-hop pioneers, sampling and digital performance have become a kind of instrumental technique. You might play well, you might play poorly, but even working with samples, you can actually play.

You can look at the simple design of the monome as the hardware embodiment of digital, a reflection of an array of pixels. You can see it as an extension of Roger Linn’s MPC and other drum machine concepts. It’s probably both those things. But since the monome itself makes no sound, it’s been software that has made that design musically relevant. While the original vision of the monome was as a blank canvas that could perform any function, ultimately a community of musicians focused their efforts on expanding a single patch, creator Brian Crabtree’s original mlr. Talk to these monome players, and they’ll very likely tell you about some little modification they made last night to use in a set they’re playing tonight, because they wanted some feature or another, or a little subpatcher they borrowed from a friend to solve a problem. Add up all those little hacks, and you get evolution.

Now, descendant mlrv has evolved into a live music-making environment of its own, and not just for the monome. Version 2.0, released this week, supports monome-like controllers such as the Novation Launchpad, Akai APC, and Livid Ohm/Block, but also conventional MPC-style grids like the Akai MPD.

The word the creators use to describe the playing technique: “hypersampling.”

mlrv is built in Max/MSP, so if you have a Mac or Windows and version 5 of the software (or Ableton’s Max for Live), you can edit the patch. Otherwise, you can download a free runtime and use the patch itself for free. Pay US$18, and you get your name on the startup screen and special email news and downloads. Pay US$80, and you get limited edition vinyl from artists galapagoose and ‘%’.

The project is the work of Trent Gill, Michael Felix, and parallelogram; check out developer galapagoose playing with it live in the video at top. (I will say, though, even as I am writing on a Website, you get more out of being in the same room with a live performance.) All the details:

The software will be available February 1, with a release party that evening for the software and music. Also, while we’ll have details tomorrow, Handmade Music will host performances by galapagoose, %, and other monome artists (alongside chip music, MeeBlippery, and laptopism) on Saturday February 5. Both events happen in New York City at Culturefix.

On February 5 with CDM, you can come at 3pm and check out an open lab to get your hands on mlrv and talk to its developers. Then stay for the party Saturday night – US$20 buys you admission, supports the artists, and nets you a two hour open bar of beer and wine recently celebrated by the NY Times’ drink critic, Frank Bruni. Full details coming in a separate post, or in the meantime, RSVP on Facebook.

Tuesday night launch party details, NYC
http://bit.ly/hmfeb5 = Handmade Music party Saturday night, complete with hands-on during the day, more live performances at night!

Finally, here’s the obligatory, somewhat amusing, preview vid:

  • I wish I hadn't get rid of my Launchpad, just to try this. I spent hours patching in m4l to produce a step seq just like the Electribe's, so in the end I dumped it and got myself an ESX. Personal goals are always above all.

  • whoooa this looks amazing, thanks for posting, Peter. I think this is the kind of instrument I've dreamed of finding or building for a while… 

  • this looks groin-grabbingly good, 

  • aje

    Great stuff 🙂
    But haven't Propellerhead copyright or trademarked the word "Hypersampling" for their special approach used in their piano refill (and others)?

  • inspiral

    About the music and technic… well if somebody likes it, then why not…

    But this overemphasized body moving… come on! It's ridiculous. Touching few buttons like a fairy and in the sametime you shake your head as it would be power metal madness… and the other part of the body doesn't move at all….
    I don't feel it :/

  • Word up to inspiral that phenomena is not limited to Monome users either. I think it is more of a function of searching for showmanship and trying to look like the performer is doing more than they are (they could actually be busy if they would switch their samples to SLICE mode and turn of quantization). I am glad that MLR now supports MIDI input (something Molor, and Livid's Looper has done for a while) for col and row presses. The first thing I did when I came across MLR was to adapt it for MIDI input which led me to work more in Pure Data adapting other sample cutters for MIDI input. If you guys like MLRV check out this Pure Data patch called Loopy created by Bongo. http://post.monome.org/comments.php?DiscussionID=… I really like this patch because it evolves the MLR concept into a more dynamic piece of software combining the elements of an Roland series SP sampler along with MLR. 


    @inspiral, @brandb — if you actually pay attention to the video you'll hear that he's using no quantization whatsoever. also, isn't *live* performance supposed to entail moving your body in some fashion?

    see this shit live, you'll understand why. haters gonna hate, makers gonna make.

  • Effalo.. I was not talking about that video in particular. In the end it is what makes you as a performer happy. I perform electronic music live on the regular.. and don't make the girls leave or sit on the floor.

  • Yep, if you're not having fun doing what you do how is your audience is supposed to have fun watching you? Fun = More Fun. 

  • Peter Kirn

    @Brand B: Thanks for the Loopy tip! That looks cool, as well.

    I always found the monster patches a bit intimidating as opposed to building something from scratch to suit my needs, for the record, but it's still inspiring to see what others have done.

  • Peter Kirn

    Of course, mlrv didn't originally support MIDI because it was built for monomes… but MIDI input isn't all that hard, correct; it probably benefits the patch to have been refactored to be more flexible.

  • Hmmm Looks Tasty!!!! That And Live Clip Chopper Hmmm could be Hot

  • @effalo
    "haters gonna hate, makers gonna make"

    love it!

  • Rj

    Would I be able to use this in Ableton and sample acoustic instruments in real time and then improvise with those samples with my monomer? Yeow!

  • Uh?

    Hypersampling ? Uh, this sound more like lackadaisical sampling to me. Why has it become the norm to put process before composition and quality? Everyone gets a stiffy whenever someone shows some new piece of grid related hardware or software regardless of the quality of the music they produce with it.

    Oh, and that dude is a little late to the beard party and he looks like he's got a bit of a tick.

  • Emmanuel

    @inspiral, @brandb @effalo

    I think he just feel the vibes ! Maybe it's for the show yes but he actually do some pretty badass music, i see myself moove like an asiatic on his boogy track Yooooooo !
    Haters gonna hate 🙂

  • Juno

    Too harsh! A bit of 'feel' can only help move electronic music out of the little grey dweeb box. But 'feel' takes years of practice and I'll agree that the continuous BUY NEW TOY > LEARNING CURVE > BUY NEW TOY > LEARNING CURVE means that no one is putting in the years it takes to master the 'feel' of one instrument.

    People have to stop buying the next thing every few months…

  • @Uh? I think it's because not every musician is technically inclined in certain ways. It's not necessarily about the tool itself but a good tool lends itself to good work. On the other hand and I'm quoting here "Of course, if you suck as a DJ, you will still suck using Deckadance, but you will suck better, faster, harder and more creatively than ever before!". A polished and streamlined mlr that worked out of the box with controllers like the launchpad is something I have been waiting anxiously for. Yay for Launchpad support!

  • no GNU/Linux support,


    how come we're always left out in the cold.

    i want that toy bad!!!

  • hell i need it,

    theres no sampler in Linux thats usable.

    I'm stuck using guru through wine. which works well but is murder on my processors.

  • hell, i need it,

    theres no sampler in Linux thats usable.

    I'm stuck using guru through wine. which works well but is murder on my processors.

  • digi

    Came across this excellent interview with the excellent electroacoustic composer John Wall yesterday, and he has some very interesting points about process, sounds and composition – which I think can be related to new compositional processes like this:


    "This is my problem with a lot of the early digital laptop stuff, so much of it now sounds like some kind of sound exercise, utterly locked into its time and unable to transcend that time. We don't listen back to Webern, Varèse, Coltrane or Buddy Holly and say their music sounds dated; we appreciate their work for its qualities that came about within the limitations (cultural, technological, political…) of their day. The same could be said of, say, Parmegiani or Nono. When it comes to using electronics or tape, compared to today's music, the technology they used was cruder, but it's how they used it within the right context that matters. There's also a further risk we run of applying too much acclaim to pioneers of technology. Just because someone did something first does not mean they fully realised its potential. We are confronted by two things – one is the idea of structure, the composition conveying a broader picture, and then there is the sounds themselves and their relationship to each other. A new, previously unheard sound quickly becomes yesterday’s sound. Xenakis, Luigi Nono, and Stockhausen are examples of people who succeeded in taking their music beyond this kind of simplistic consideration. "

  • max

    I don't like the movements of this guy also. But I like the really nice floor! (Both completely irrelevant, of course; sorry…) And I'm looking forward to try mlvr 2.00000 – I'm curious if I'm able´to do anything sensible with it and my padKontrol.

  • interesting performance ,
    an other step is integration of touchscreen with faders, knobs and pads
    here a recent work :

  • Great vid…I was fully expecting some atonal, glitchy stuff or some dubstep garbage. I appreciate anything leaning towards the post-Dilla/FlyLo school of boom-bap (for lack of a better term). It was obviously live and the whole purpose of those types of beats is to "nod your head till your f*ckin' neck breaks".

    I love the fact that the fruits of the monome movement are becoming even more accessible. Not every one wants to spend the day screwing around with Max patches. I need to try this software right now.

  • I want to see one of you guys playing stuff like that without quantization and NOT move your body. Slightly impossible. You probably didn't get it: This video is showing electronic music made with a human body – without a sequencer.

  • max

    @pepezabala: I did not want to imply that I prefer immobility – that would be strange also. But this head-banging together with the motionless legs left me irritated. (Perhaps it's an inevitable consequence of him sitting on the floor – but perhaps sitting on the floor isn't the best posture for doing this kind of live music with a human body. His other video on Vimeo where he's standing gave me a much more natural impression.)

  • inspiral

    Hater? 🙂 No. I understand that many button pusher would like to express itself and show that he/she is doing something and not just standing next to a box. It's a new chapter in music performance and there will be plenty of time to polish the body part. But… here the music, the dynamic of the music is not in synchro with the hard gestures… This is the standard way of playing imitation… Already overtalked 🙂

  • @Patrick W'iyr Thrasybule

    That Pure Data patch that I linked called Loopy works under Linux. Which is another reason to use Pure Data. There is more than a few MLR style patches that run under Pure Data. I suggest you look into that route.

  • soo cool !
    sitting on the floor and exaggeratedly headbanging out of time…mmm….tasty.
    that video made me realize that white man is close to the end of its evolution…and the atrophy of its legs.
    and made me wish to dump my computer and play a djembe.
    thanks for posting

  • Were is my comment?

    If I didn't knew any better, I'd say this guy in the first video is having a seizure!

    Come on guys, better learn to play a real instrument and then you can bond your body movements with the music you are actually making!
    Here is a new name for this type of "performance": micro Dj-ing!

  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, micro-DJing isn't far off. Seriously. Whether you think that has value is a separate question. (Man, this week has everyone in a mood, though!)

  • Peter Kirn

    PS, I know from reader comments that lots of you play actual instruments. Now, because this is essentially a sampler, there's no reason you can't use it alongside another instrument – though, depending on the instrument, what you might need is a footnome. 😉

  • rondema

    Yeah what is up with people recently (myself included) – has everyone given up smoking too? The post holiday blues have hit hard this year… now to channel the angst into creativity. Great looking tool – took delivery of both Launch and i Pads this week in an attempt to cheer myself up. It is working nicely, moreso now 🙂

  • ahahahahahahahhahaha….sorry dude, but pretending to be a headbanger while pressing buttons is kinda lame…though I understand his intent. #fail

    The energetic interface is instrument, buttons/knobs are control devices no matter how hard you try and make it look like you are grooving to the sample selection/manipulation.

    But we will get there…cheap haptics are on the way soon I think.

  • 786dfsaysfv

    nothing wrong with negative comments – just indicative of people with differing viewpoints and functioning bullsh!t detectors. it can't be all sweetness and light all the time, ( that's quite unnatural, actually ).

    personally, i'm less disturbed by this fellows somewhat autistic thrashing around than i am by the fact that he is PLAYING ON THE FLOOR!! wtf? get up off your knees and at least bust out a folding table or something, son! we're trying to get the masses to take electronic music performance seriously and you're making it look like it's romper room or something.

  • Andreas Wetterberg

    In my experience, moving your body to the beat, sometimes exaggeratedly, is a keen way to keep the time in a greasy-type hip hop beat played live.

    Check out some of many of those mpc "Beat making" videos on youtube and see if you can't spot the funky headnoggin'.

  • I just can't understand why there isn't a self-contained monome yet. A monome with a programmable chip and an audio engine and outputs. Like a nord micromodular, but with sequencing or the king of monome app you like the most. No laptop onstage…

  • yes…micro-djs playing micro-music to micro-people living a micro-life in a macro-city.

  • Ramin

    People who can't or won't see this as a very nice LIVE performance are just plain stupid. 

    the guy is playing drums with one hand and triggering loops with the other, without quantizing! he's obviously doing something creative.

    and the music is pretty good as well. so what if he bobs his head furiously. I know I did too when I was listening to this. and it's not like I'm really into this fly-lo kind of stuff.

    but it's a good performance none the less.
    it's easy to downplay something like this on a forum behind a computer.

    as some poster above said:
    "hater gonna hate, makers gonna make"

  • anonyman

    self-contained monome.. sounds like a tenori-on 🙂

    for the people bashing the performance, put up the goods! where's your performance video showing us how it's to be done? without evidence of your performance superiority over this strapping young lad i have to assume you're just being bitter and jealous people and trolling for kicks–rather unpleasant, but that's the internet for you.

    honestly i think some people are just tired of the monome love and will bash anything monome-related for that reason alone.  case in point: not a single negative comment in the "music with faders" story.  lots of positive encouragement actually.  i enjoyed it immensely myself, but with all the critics ready to tear up anyone who dares perform on the floor or who bobs his head the wrong way, i'm just surprised that thread was left relatively unscathed.  it must be something about the monome in particular that really gets the trolls drooling.

  • constable

    Ha. Some of the comments on this article remind me of when I was a kid and my guitar teacher told me that electronic music wasn't real music.

  • >>for the people bashing the performance, Put up the goods! where’s your performance video showing us how it’s to be done?

    I'll step up for evisceration, seeing as I "bashed his performance" – I'll even take off my flame proof suit – and I do agree with you – if you dish it out then you have to be able to take it.
    -> http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D3F02305D

    I'm so lame I don't even perform in Real life! (actually there is one in there of me in the flesh if you look close enough…)

    The point the "bashers" are making, and I still think it is quite valid, is essentially the same point people have been making about laptop artists and their general lack of visual performance activity in contexts where a visual performance aspect needs to be an integral part of the show. In some contexts it's not.

    As I mentioned in my "bash" I appreciate his intent to impart some physicality to his performance, I just think it was overamplified and hence just looked silly. To people who fully understand the technical aspects of what he is manipulating, maybe not.
    Performance Intent 8/10 Performance Execution 3/10 (fyi not rating the music, just visual performance).

    It's not about "play analog instruments if you want to look cool" or "electronic music is stoopid", it's about a physical performance that works in the context of the music. Performance skills are actually not an easy thing to acquire on any instrument (how many boring statues have you seen on stage playing guitar/keyboards?), and the fact that most current nouveau digital interfaces don't have energetic input makes it that little bit harder to physically impart some visual music making connection to a non-musical audience. Augmented performance with CG output is one way around this atm.

    fyi I use a combo of traditional instruments and control interfaces (launchpad, nocturn, nanokontrol) in my Ableton Live based performances, the interfaces used to control AI driven bass/drums – in a range of styles from dirty blues to experimental bluestronica.

    I think anyone using new interfaces in a live physical performance space has to consider carefully this aspect, especially from the perspective of non-musicians who may be watching.

  • YETI

    my god. monomes are so intimidating, and expensive! i'll just stick with my lpd8 for now. 😛

  • anonyman

    so you're saying if he had just replaced the video with "second life" clips it wouldn't be silly?

    the point i'm making is it's pretty shallow to take one small aspect of an artist's performance, focus entirely on it, and use it as a tool to dismiss everything else about it.  i wouldn't have been annoyed enough to post if people seemed to be constructive in their criticism (and i'm not saying it's the end-all-be-all performance).

    i just think the guy deserve a bit of credit, even if you don't like his beard, head movements, or think he's pushing buttons "like a fairy".  these comments just seem resentful.

  • >>so you’re saying if he had just replaced the video with “second life” clips it wouldn’t be silly?

    Not at all, and that's a silly extension to make. You asked for an example of performance so I gave you some I had floating around.

    >>the point i’m making is it’s pretty shallow to take one small aspect of an artist’s performance,
    Point taken, but my point is It's not a small aspect of his performance. It's a rather large one by nature of human perception being 75% visual biased.

    Of course he deserves's credit, as does anyone brave enough to put anything out there on youtube/vimeo et al…but that does not make it "good", "cutting edge", "novel" or [insert gushy hyperbole here] just because they are using new technology to produce it.
    There's seems to be a real tendancy in the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression] area to do that sometimes.

  • Just to make my point about energetic interfaces and their affordances enabling physicality in performance (vs exaggeration where no affordance actually exists) check out these two cello players overamping themselves http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlVbEclPj4c

    I'm not saying analog beats digital here, I'm saying focus on the interface design aspects that afford physicality in performance naturally. This is, imho, the ongoing weakness in most NIME designs.

    Good examples of moving in the right direction I think are http://createdigitalmusic.com/2010/09/alternative

  • anonyman

    i appreciate your well thought out responses.  your main argument against this video seems to be that the devices themselves do not enable, or are not conducive to, energetic movement during performance–that any energetic movement will be perceived by the audience as exaggeration and somehow not genuine.  i will offer a counter example:


    i would argue that this is a very similar setup to galapagoose, the performer is making exaggerated movements, and yet the interfaces are absolutely affording of them and they are appropriate.  the audience is evidence of this.

    anyone's opinion of galapagoose's video is absolutely valid, whether or not you like or dislike it and why, but i think the devices are perfectly suited for an energetic performance.

  • There's exaggeration, then there's exaggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggeration;-)

    Your counter example is a good one, and so to an extent I would have agree that non energeric interfaces can afford physicality – if you know how to perform and the music fits the action;-)

    Ellis looks like a more experienced performer, and is standing (big difference in affording phsyicality & motion) and dancing to a faster beat made from directly mashing the crap out his controllers! Most of his action is also in the arms/legs (not super exaggerated asynchronous head bobbing) and is mainly directly able to be correlated to the sound production – a big help in audience/performer communication.

  • digress [daɪˈgrɛs]
    1. to depart from the main subject in speech or writing2. to wander from one's path or main direction


    nit·pick  (ni'tpi'k)
    To be concerned with or find fault with insignificant details. See Synonyms at quibble.

    my mlrv2 is ordered and coming tomorrow… it's gonna be funnnnnnnnnnnnn!
    thank you guys for everything….
    can't wait to mess with MIDI controlled start and end points!…. 
    mega glitch

  • bor·ing (bôrng, br-)
    Uninteresting and tiresome; dull.
    boring·ly adv.
    boring·ness n.
    Synonyms: boring, monotonous, tedious, irksome, tiresome, humdrum

  • @komuso,
    hey man… 
    i checked out your youtube things… 
    thanks for sharing,
    you really got the blues standard thing down…
    the "second life" thing is pretty confusing… but you got skills man… 
    guess i could counterpoint your comments with the fact that "second life" doesn' t represent your musical style appropriately… 
    it's weird… 
    also, being a guitar player for the past 23 years, the traditional blues was never something that held my attentions… boring to play… for me…
    thats just my tastes though
    alas, big props for being so good at it…
    keep killing it… and get some footy of you really playing! it'll bring up those youtube plays…
    peaces hoss

  • @edison Not to [daɪˈgrɛs] too much further, but they do say the real blues is how you play it, not what you play. That ole 12 bar sure can be a boring sob pattern otherwise;-)

    re: Confusing SL
    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2009/05/mixed-reality-ko… explains a little more about use of this medium for distibuted remote live performance, from a talk I gave at Tokyo Barcamp 2009.

    Please make some vids of your megaglitching performances, maybe we can help you get your youtube views up too!

  • @edison v2
    Actually I checked out some vids on http://edisonsdemo.tumblr.com/
    Nice button work and glitch…bonus points for not pretending to headbang! hahah!
    Keep on gltiching!

  • @komuso
    thanks man..
    i didn't mean the blues is boring….
    i just mean the guitar style was never something i was partial to… 
    or ever very good at… 
    as for slide…. favorite artist….
    bob log III
    sooo good… 1 man band…..

    as for youtube views… 
    just shot a new video this weekend… 
    hopefully it'll be up by next week!

  • fedor

    I think all those vangelis fans and pimply guys with turntables which comments I've read above should go fuck their selves. 
    mlrv is awesome patch, 2-nd version reached a highes level of OHUENNOST'. Mlrv2 is OHUENNO, not less.

  • logritm

    mmmm…..i am not able to setup my padkontrol with mlrv 🙁 if someone know how to do it…please ask me i cant setup my midi…i dont understand why….

  • Now this is so much better than just button pressing and twiddling knobs!