So, you’ve finally got yourself a launchpad. You’ve installed the drivers and the ‘Launchpad Edition’ of Ableton Live. . . .
. . . and you are totally underwhelmed.
The clip launching is nice but that’s not what you got it for, is it? You want to slice clips, make drones, and step sequence monome style.
Well, you can. And, contrary to the instructions that come with the Launchpad would have you believe, you don’t have to spend a dime on Max4Live, or a full version of Ableton Live, or a full version of Automap. Everything you need to geek out with your grid is available for free. And I’ve collected it all in one convenient place.
Download and unzip Launch-Mono Starter Kit.zip
First, you’ll need MaxMSP Runtime. MaxMSP is a program that allows users to build their own virtual sound devices and integrate them with their equipment. The Runtime version is the free version that’s limited to opening patches from other people; you won’t be able to build your own. But a lot of the prebuilt tools are going to do exactly what you want and more, so building your own would be about as much fun as building your own car and make about as much sense.
Double click on Max5_RT.msi and follow the install instructions.
edit: Mac Users – The msi in the zip file is for PCs, but you can get a Mac version of Max Runtime here: http://cycling74.com/downloads/
Now that you’ve got the framework to run max patches, you’ll need nonome. Nonome does not do anything by itself. Its only job is to fool other applications into thinking your launchpad is a monome.
Make sure your Launchpad is connected (and that you’ve installed the proper drivers) and find _nonome-1.24a.maxpat in the nonome 1.24a folder and double click (Mac Users – Go ahead, max patches work on Mac, too). If Windows tells you it ‘cannot open this file’, click ‘Select this program from a list‘ and choose Max5. Soon you’ll see nonome pop up. Set the ‘Select Launchpad‘ dropdown menu to Launchpad. Press the ‘User 2‘ button on your Launchpad twice. You should see the arrow keys across the top light up in 4 different colors. If you don’t, Launchpad and nonome are not communicating properly and you should start over. If they do light up as described, pick your favorite color of the 4 and press ‘User 2‘ again.
If, you have an audio interface you plan on using, set it up now. If you don’t have an audio interface, or you don’t know what I’m talking about, get back in the starter kit and install ASIO4ALL (ASIO4ALL_2_9_English.exe). edit: Mac Users – don’t worry about asio4all, your computer already has Apple Core Audio and that’s capable of the low latencies you need. When you are instructed to use or select asio4all later in the tutorial, select Apple Core Audio instead.
MLR – The Beat Shuffling Program
Now you’re ready for mlr. It lets you do this:
With nonome open, find Launch-Mono Starter Kit\mlr_Aes mdb 0.42\_mlr.maxpat and open it. Click on ‘Options‘ and then ‘dsp options‘ and select ‘ad_asio ASIO4ALL v2.’ Mac Users should select Apple Core Audio.
Now take mlr loop 120 1.wav and drag it to the area marked ‘audio file drop‘. Then, go to the first file selection drop-down menu and select ‘mlr loop 120 1.wav‘. Set the tempo to 120 and click on the button labled ‘dac‘. If everything is set up correctly, the loop should be playing.
Once you’ve got mlr running, the actual beat shuffling is very intuitive. The lighted button tells you which part of the loop is currently playing. Press one of the 8 buttons on the second row (pay no attention to the first row for now) to start the loop from that point. If the loop sounds off pitch or too slow, change the value in the ‘speed‘ box to 1 (both the loop and mlr’s tempo are set to 120, so it should need no adjustment to fit properly).
Before I leave you on your own, we should go over the groups function (the squares to the left of the ‘audio file drop‘). No audio from the same group can fire at the same time, so starting a loop in group 1 will stop any other loop in that group. To experience the magic, drag mlr loop 120 2.wav to the audio file drop and select it from the second drop down menu. Pressing a button in the third row will start it off. Notice that loop 1 stopped. Pressing a button in the second row will stop loop 2 and start loop 1 again.
To play both of them at the same time, select the second square in the ‘groups’ category of the second loop. Pressing buttons in rows two and three now causes a wonderful racket. You might be wondering how to get it to stop, which brings us back to that first row.
That first row is just a control to switch each of the groups off. A lit button indicates an activated group, the first for loop 1, the second for loop 2, etc. Hit the corresponding button to stop any audio in that group.
Mlr is capable of a lot more, and now that you are familiar with the program, understanding the manual and experimenting on your own should be easier.
Next up: Polygome