pauk on pages from Pauk on Vimeo.

Part of what sets apart the open source monome controller instrument (cdm tag | site) is that, despite its minimalist grid of pads, it really behaves like an extension of software. That grid can be thought of as touch-ready pixels. Using Pages, an app developed by phortran that allows you to overlay different, switchable functions on the same controls, you can navigate through different capabilities or move through the structure of a composition.

Pauk has put together a video showing what this feature is all about. He’s got quite a bag of tricks taking advantage of Pages, including:

  • Skipping clips in Ableton Live
  • Sequencer controlling effects
  • Sequencer controlling a RhythmBox, with two levels of velocity, a la vintage Roland gear
  • As a MIDI keyboard controlling effects or a soft synth instrument
  • Running external applications, including a Tenori-On-inspired “Boing” app

So, that’s the technology involved. But watching the video got me thinking – what is he really doing? That’s a deeper question raised by a lot of what’s going on in computer music. In some ways, there’s a parallel to DJing, in that he’s manipulating music at a large scale. But, of course, the musical result is different, because of the array of techniques – well beyond what most DJs would use. It’s sort of like live composition, at a higher level. It is a performance, but it’s not a performance at the level traditionally associated with playing an instrument – we’re controlling more elements at once, by making them as a set of interactive compositions.

In other words, this is “interactive music,” the term most associated with game music.

Food for thought. (Hey, people did beg for something to take their mind off that demo video.)

For more monome video goodness, here’s the awesome Edison:


damn hoss from edison on Vimeo.

64 buttons…..
63 sounds….
1 stop button……
no quantize……
no loops…….