Pauk (Pau Cabruja) using a Monome 256 attached to a guitar strap, photo by Lara
Jaruchik. Courtesy monome Community Tour

The monome is coming to your town. Unlike tours organized by commercial product vendors, a grassroots effort by monome users pledges to share the music made with the monome and give back to a larger community.

It’s hard to explain the monome. It’s part tool, part lifestyle. And its openness comes in large part from the community of artists who use it, and embrace the controller’s sustainable production and unique design. In fact, it’s hard to explain just what a monome is: this USB-connected grid of light-up buttons is, by design, a blank canvas. It’s what the community has brought to that canvas that has made the monome a surprise revolution. That passion sometimes even makes it an object of ridicule – but let the monome artists show your their chops and love, and all but the coldest hearts melt.

Organizer Frank Rose shares some thoughts on the monome tour.

And since it is as much about the users and their music, we’ve got some music for you to hear. (If you’re using Chrome/Chromium, you can easily queue up all these tracks using the wonderful ExtensionFM – anyone have something similar on Firefox?)

The tour kicks off in Boston, but eventually leaves American shores for Canada, Austria, and Spain – and more dates around the world are in the works. (Got a lead on a venue in your town? Give a shout.)

09.03.2010 – Boston, MA
09.04.2010 – NYC, NY
09.06.2010 – Daytona, FL
09.07.2010 – Houston, TX
09.11.2010 – Boulder, CO
09.12.2010 – Denver, CO
09.13.2010 – Sante Fe, NM
09.15.2010 – San Diego, CA
09.16.2010 – Fullerton, CA
09.17.2010 – Los Angeles, CA
09.18.2010 – Santa Cruz, CA
09.19.2010 – San Francisco, CA
09.21.2010 – Portland, OR
09.22.2010 – Seattle, WA
09.24.2010 – Toronto, ON
10.01.2010 – Edmonton, AB
10.16.2010 – Linz, Austria
11.05.2010 – Barcelona, Spain

Each city has a different lineup (which to me is part of the appeal), and dates are changing, so keep your eyes on their site for the latest:

There are workshop/build days in Boulder and Santa Fe, as well.

The tour also will be accompanied by a compilation 2-disc, 33-track, international music release, all made with monome and initially available only at the tour stops – so go hear some live music.

Frank Rose shares more details with CDM:

We created a compilation that will be available exclusively at tour dates and if there’s any left over, I’ll sell them on the website. Proceeds will go to the performing artists. Any profit afterwards, in the community spirit, will be given away to some deserving charity. 33 songs on 2 discs, featuring only monome community members including Daedelus and Edison.

Schpligidy (Tanner Christiansen) brought up the idea of putting together a tour in April. Tanner got busy, and I took up the role of energizer and got the ball rolling. People signed up to play, others volunteered to organize events in their town. I don’t have alot of experience booking shows so I went forward, as I do with most things, just winging it. It’s worked out fairly well, with some bumps.

The goal is really just to tour and have fun. I think the result, for me anyways, is that I’ll actually meet some of these folks I’ve only talked to online. Of course, we all want to share our own personal creations with a greater audience. The monome is just a thread that all of us have in common. It’s used more as a vehicle for the tour rather than a mechanism for proselytizing.

I’ll get to catch up with the NYC lineup: Portable Sunsets, Makingthenoise, NO SIR E, The Alpha Nerd, Watson, %, Galapagoose, Cigarette Operahouse.

Hear the music…

Note that TheAlphaNerd’s music is all available free, via a Creative Commons license.

Jittery Fingers by TheAlphaNerd

Watson – Fields at Home by watson

MicrowavedBulletsDon’tKillAliens PeopleDo by _raja_

Go to sleep slowly (short mix) by noiseflowr

Noiseflowr also has a remix of the lovely Caribou Sun track:
Caribou – Sun (noiseflowr organistic mix) by noiseflowr

More tracks, for listening exclusively on SoundCloud:

And for access to everything in the monome community: