my first monome video

Explanation Pending from GreaterThanZero on Vimeo.


Ableton Live provides a somewhat non-linear, modular approach to creating music. It’s popular amongst DJs in particular, and producers of hip-hop, but it has some great tools for my workflow as well.

Max/MSP/Jitter is a visual scripting language which creates and manipulates audio and video. It’s traditionally been popular in experimental avant garde circles, but a new generation of electronic musicians have adopted it, thanks in part to the monome.

The monome is a grid of buttons that light up, allowing you to tangibly manipulate any idea that can be expressed in a two-dimensional grid over time. It’s minimalist in design, and open-ended in function. This makes it an ideal interface for something as open-ended as Max/MSP/Jitter, and in many cases, the ideal instrument for musicians who work with samples. This creates a strange overlap in the user base, which makes their community a fun place to be.

Recently, these worlds have merged further with the release of Max for Live, which allow Max/MSP/Jitter developers to re-imagine what Ableton Live can be used for, and build new interfaces inside it.

I’m involved pretty heavily in the monome community, mostly helping people with Max for Live. I’ve created some tools of my own in it, and several of those are at work in this video.

Technical discussion of those will be found here. At least in theory. Thus far, it’s just me in there.

(This happens a lot when I post something too far outside of the norm. Does silence convey reverence, or pity? I’ve left the world dumbfounded.)

much love for the widget-as-collaborative-tool

This probably won’t work too well in your RSS reader, but if you’re actually looking at my site in a flash-supported web browser, check this out:

It’s a very simple step sequencer you can write patterns in and embed on your website. Then other people can not only hear your creation, but use it as a springboard to launch into one of their own. (the entirety of your sequence is snapshot to a very short ASCII string, which they include in the embed code. it doesn’t remember your volume and panning settings, though)

There’s room for growth, but this is exciting. And a huge distraction at work.

Play around, change up the music, and post your results as a comment on this post!

Take 4

This track is a bit unusual for me in that I’m actually working with recorded audio instead of interpreted note information.

What the heck does that mean?

Well, normally there’s an added layer or two of abstraction, letting me change wrong notes, adjust timing, and generally tweak every aspect of performance in post-production. Here, I just had to play well.

I found the process creatively liberating, but the end result feels a little raw to me.

Anyway, take a listen: