Hack your Launchpad! Novation’s new r_cycle lets you design your own layouts and interactions, and even turn them into instruments and effects, all in the free Pure Data environment.

r_cycle, the creation of Novation’s Mario Buonifante, is a free and open source set of tools for working with a variety of Launchpad devices. You can create your own pad layouts – drum pads, keyboards, buttons, grids, and radios – plus work with the various shortcut buttons. And there are a number of helper objects/abstractions for working with sound and patterns. This is more than you could do with MIDI alone – you really get an API to do all the customization of the Launchpad you could desire.

You’ll need a recent device – Launchpad Pro MK1 or MK3, Launchpad MK2, Launchpad X, or Launchpad Mini MK3. Those devices are the most useful, anyway, thanks to RGB color and (apart from the Mini) velocity sensing.

macOS, Windows, and Linux all work (32- and 64-bit – I tested nearly everything).

How to get started (even for total beginners)

Grab the tools here; it just went public:


I worked with Novation to write a two-part introduction to r_cycle, and Mario was terrific and responsive to some feedback.

This introduction doesn’t even assume any knowledge whatsoever of Pure Data. So if you just have the idea that you’d like to create an instrument or effect or use your controller a different way, it absolutely starts at the very beginning. (And if anything is unclear, actually, let me know!)

Hack What You Want For Making Music [Novation]

There are really two major ways you might work with these tools. You might just use Pd as the glue between your Launchpad and other tools (live coding environment Tidal Cycles / SuperCollider, for example). Or you might build your instruments and effects inside Pd – and we give you some tools and techniques to help with that.

Part two will be up next week, but if you really can’t wait, you’ll find the patch featured then, SliceExample, in the examples folder of GitHub.

The amazing Antonio Roberts aka hellocatfood has been working with DIY ideas with Launchpad, too – more on what he’s doing soon, I hope! Photo: Marcin Sz.

Novation has been great about their support for the hacker and live coder communities, and this is really a big deal, seeing a Pure Data-based tool from a major manufacturer under a permissive open source license. Knowing the CDM readers and all of you in the Pd world, I’m sure you’ll have some more feedback and ideas. I also hope we get to see what tools and music you create!

Have fun with part one… (and see the Novation Hackers’ Guide too)