five twelve portable sunsets from tehn on Vimeo.

A 512-button monome may be well out of reach of mortals, but as the Bugatti Veyron is to lovers of supercars and automobile design, so is this expansive array of buttons to fans of digital instruments. I mentioned the monome 512, now up for bidding in an extremely limited run, as a reminder that reality can be better than April Fools’. (Not that anything can top the KFC Double Down.)

The 512 is real. It’s also a source of real inspiration. To make use of this dense assortment of buttons, Peter Segerstrom created special software, entitled redisco:

Brian just wrote me and mentioned that he sent the video we made with the 512 to you. I figured I’d send a little note about the software as I have no idea whether it’s intuitive to an observer or not. I’ve been calling it redisco, and basically it does density control of up to 32 audio files that are dynamically reordered using a sort of random beat pattern algorithm for each sound. Along with this there’s a page that allows you to control 32 separate bandpass filters for each sound (the one that looks like a big stripe) and then a global parameters page. Ya, any ways that about sums it up!

Peter also adds, in response to certain recent themes on this site, “Standards HO!” Indeed. Thanks to the monome applications’ use of control standards, you could find a touchscreen or chain together some QWERTYs and emulate the same functionality.

Dealing with this many buttons is itself an interesting problem – or opportunity. One of the notions iPad application UI designers have mentioned is “flattening” – placing multiple functions on the same page. To use the paper metaphor, musicians will often tape together parts so they can see more of the music without turning the page. Even if you’re not pondering bidding on the 512 (hmmm… too bad I don’t have a VW Microbus to sell), I think that concept could lead in many directions.

I was reflecting on flatness in design, and lo and behold, I see the name of Peter’s artist site:

For more monome-y goodness, here’s the recent grayscale edition, making the soothing ambient sounds that can come from Brian Crabtree’s imagination and looking like lovely musical artwork.

grayscale one twenty eight from tehn on Vimeo.