Monome Life, indeed. What makes the Monome so wonderful is not so much that the hardware and software itself are open source — nice as that may be — but that they have become a platform for experimentation and personalization. Max/MSP, now freshly injected with life following its version-5 release, has a similar ethos. Here are a couple of the creations that have impressed me most recently: a hacked-together implementation of The Game of Life in Max and Monome, and an impressive DJ app, dj64.

This is Your Life

Bean (blog | twitter | flickr) clearly very much loves his Monome, as indicated by the slideshow above. I recently spotted an interesting creation on the CDMusic Flickr Pool — an implementation of the iconic Game of Life simulation/game — and asked him about it.

I made it mainly just because I figured it should be possible. It’s not terribly efficient, and occasionally stutters, but that feels like part of its charm. It is monome tailored, but would run stand-alone with a little tweaking.

I’ve got the cleaned up version posted on my page of monome-specific patches:

There are a number of downloads there, including that one, so Max users, have at them!

Having taught Max to college students and hung around Max and Pd patchers, I actually think I enjoy the hacked-together stuff more. It’s software, but somehow the visible evidence left behind makes it clear that these tools have been touched by human hands. Here’s a look at the interface and the resulting patch in action (prior to clean-up, I might add), with Bean’s caveat that “Max is in no way the ideal, or even a particularly suitable, environment for implementing a Game of Life app. I did it basically just to see if I could do it. And the answer is, yes, yes I could.”

dj64: DJ Software, Monome Style

Bitbasic has reproduced the fundamentals of a DJ setup in Max/MSP, which you can use either standalone or (ideally) controller with a Monome. Consistent with the Monome aesthetic, the emphasis is on minimalism — this isn’t quite Native Instruments Traktor, but then, that seems like part of the point. And by being incomplete, it invites users to try hacking together their own solutions and modifications.

dj64 for Monome – by Bitbasic from simon on Vimeo.

It’s really with the controller that it starts to make sense. Before DJs out there start knocking this, I think it’s the fact that this is the opposite of a turntable that makes it interesting. The results are digital and glitchy. The interface is buttons instead of the continuous control offered by a physical turntable. The software interface may look like a typical 2-deck DJ rig, but the results are unmistakably Monome-y.

Features, as implemented in the Max software and Monome control:

  • Pitch and pitch bend, time stretch controls
  • Crossfader, 2-channel mixing
  • Cue set and return
  • Effects: flanger, ring mod, stutter, granular, more
dj64 Project @ monome docs
dj64 discussion @ monome forums

It’s under development, so stay tuned. But as a first go, I already find it inspiring. Seen other Monome applications you like? Creating something of your own — even hack-y and unfinished? Holler out in comments.