adaptable, minimalist interfaces
we aim to refine the way people consider interface.
we seek less complex, more versatile tools: accessible yet fundamentally adaptable. we believe these parameters are most directly achieved through minimalistic design, enabling users to more quickly discover new ways to work, play, and connect. we see flexibility not as a feature but as a foundation.
we create open source devices of undetermined use. connected to a computer, they become live sample cutters, unorthodox step sequencers, emergent pattern instruments, rapid modal visualizers, interactive simulations, tactile reactive games.
many of these explorations are community driven and available freely to all. for those inclined we provide examples and tutorials for programming your own designs.
monome is brian crabtree and kelli cain. we met in art school where our initial collaborations included electro-mechanical installations, films, and music. now we live and work in the mountains of upstate new york where we also tend apple orchards, nubian goats, streams, and forests.
monome is operated on a human scale. we use local suppliers and manufacturers with whom we’ve created long-term, trusting relationships. environmental and economic sustainability are critical considerations in our design process. we believe in beautiful design and quality craftsmanship. editions are produced in short runs according to demand. staying small affords the flexibility to pursue interesting new directions, not simply commodify established trends.
for those wanting to know a little bit more, we decided to publish a conversation amongst ourselves.
what is this? what is going on?
that is a good question. we discuss it collectively here.
is this device available? how do i order?
see the ordering information page. we produce small editions according to our perception of demand and do not maintain stock at all times.
when will a new edition be available?
we announce new editions in the news section of the forum. if you’re looking for a specific device, put in a request there.
will you ship internationally?
yes. you will be responsible for any customs, duty, and VAT fees that your country imposes when the package enters your country. these are typically around 20% of the purchase amount and are collected on delivery.
where can i hear/see/hold a monome device in person?
monome devices are presently sold at only one retail store: control voltage in portland, oregon.
if you happen to come through upstate new york, we may be around to show you our work.
do you give educational discounts or sponsorships?
we are very small. in short, no. but if you’re part of an institution looking to get a substantial number of our devices into your classrooms, please contact us.
is there a warranty? what if something breaks?
we assess each situation individually. repairs are inexpensive or often free. we will also make suggestions if there’s a simple way to fix the problem yourself.
schematics and board files are available on the wiki, so if you’re inclined you can perform circuit fixes or modifications yourself.
what if i am not a programmer?
no programming knowledge is needed to run our applications or the hardware itself. they run just like normal desktop software. depending on what you would like to accomplish, knowledge of midi routing or specific programming languages will be helpful.
if you are a programmer, we’ve collected a large and growing number of tutorials, examples, and libraries for integrating our hardware into various frameworks. see the technical documentation section.
what is max/msp? do i need to purchase it?
max/msp is a graphical programming environment maintained by cycling74 with which many monome applications are written. all are fully functional using cycling74’s max/msp runtime, which is free.
will it work on os x, windows, linux?
os x and windows are fully supported. linux support is very good, though does not enjoy the same level of integration largely because max/msp and similar packages are not supported in linux.
in general mac installation is the most straightforward. as a forewarning we have found windows installations to be more problematic, though most users get set up without issues. help is always available.
will it interface with ableton live, logic, etc?
ableton live is presently supported very well, through max for live and other bridge applications written by community members. this is not the same tight integration you’d see using ableton-branded hardware, though in numerous ways monome devices provide more flexibility.
applications are available which enable the hardware to act like a standard midi device, so interfacing with various software packages becomes the same as with other controllers. getting midi data out of the software (back to the hardware, for light activity) will be a different matter and vary largely between packages.
a typical use case would be running some sort of monome-centric sequencer that sends midi notes to a DAW, which will generate the actual audio and record note data.
why is there no hardware midi in/out?
midi can be sent/received using various applications on our wiki. we prefer to use a network-based protocol called opensound control because it is faster and tremendously more flexible. the device itself communicates using serial via usb.
who writes these applications?
many of the original patches were written by tehn who also designed the hardware. most were written by the fantastic community of users who share their work.
will your applications work with other controllers?
potentially– some more than others. you could always rewrite the applications to accept different input. keep in mind that our applications were designed specifically with our devices’ capabilities in mind, and the experience of using the application with ill-fitting hardware is less than optimal.
there are a few monome emulators available which work relatively well.
will you add (some feature) to (some application)?
we didn’t write most of the applications shared on our wiki. the forum is a good place to discuss and encourage ongoing application development. be respectful! applications are shared by the good will of our community members.
can i use my own samples?
many applications are sample-based and allow (usually require) you to load your own samples.
does it come with sounds?
some applications synthesize their own sounds. others interface with midi instruments. if you need samples you can either make your own or check out freesound.org.
isn’t it just a bunch of buttons with lights?
yes, isn’t it wonderful? by having separate light and button systems, the device can be reconfigured infinitely. new applications and uses are continually being invented.
what is monome?
we are minimalists. maybe less is more.