dimarts, 11 d’agost del 2009


Canon in :D from Loop Party on Vimeo.

"Monome are a small company based in Philadelphia, who design and build a range of controller/display boxes that can be interfaced to music software. That in itself isn't too remarkable — the market is awash with fader units and mixing surfaces of various shapes and sizes — but Monome units are something different.

Monome believe in minimalism. Their boxes have no lettering or labels, apart from the word 'Monome' printed in small type on the underside. The control surface is completely uniform: a matrix of identical, anonymous, back-lit buttons. Just looking at a Monome unit is an exercise in Zen: there are none of the controls you might expect to find, such as pan knobs at the top or faders at the bottom. There's no two-row LCD screen showing the current program. A Monome is about as close to a blank sheet of paper as hardware gets.

Another unusual aspect of the Monome hardware is the construction. The boxes themselves are made of walnut treated with teak oil, while the buttons are silicone rubber set into an aluminium faceplate. The materials are sourced locally by Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain, the company's founders, with a great deal of attention to economic and ecological sustainability, and every unit is hand made; production runs are limited, and there is always a waiting list. The ethical manufacturing policy extends to the packaging, and everything is recyclable paper and cardboard, and there's no polystyrene or bubble-wrap to be seen. What's more, the device doesn't come bundled with software CDs, registration cards, special offers, or any of the other filler that usually accompanies hi-tech products: all software and support comes via the Monome web site and forum, and the company is very active on-line.

This open, minimal philosophy also extends to the internals of the Monome hardware and software. All aspects of the design, including the firmware, are open-source; users are free to adapt the device to their own uses, and Monome supply kits for anyone who wishes to build a custom unit. And, as is common in the open-source world, there is a thriving community of developers and programmers contributing tools and applications for the Monome platform, making it not so much a product as an ecosystem. As a very small outfit, Monome have not paid for advertising or stands at trade shows: they have been completely sustained by the viral nature of the Internet, and by word-of-mouth as their controllers find their way into the hands of artists and touring musicians."

Sound on sound magazine, Monome 64.