Monome, one of the more innovative instrument builders of the computer age have added a brand new device to their line of interfaces. Unlike their previous products, the Monome and Arc, The Aleph is a “soundcomputer”, or a dedicated computer tailored specifically for musical creation. It’s entirely programmable and open-source, so users can write their own programs to run on the Aleph’s powerful platform.
In a live or studio setup, the Aleph could play many parts. It can sync with your computer, control devices, or be the center of it all. This last functionality is by far the most exciting. Strangely enough, this entirely electronic device creates an organic environment for creation by eliminating the need for a PC. If its able to do what the folks at monome claim it is capable of, then we’re looking at a beautiful marriage of pseudo-primitive simplicity and modern technological capabilities.
The Aleph is the best built device of its kind (which are few) you’ll find apart from custom building your own. But with a hefty $1400 price tag, the Aleph is only going to attract die hard creators and programmers. For the same price you can walk out of the Apple Store with a damned powerful Macbook, so why spring for the Aleph when you can run a myriad of music creation programs on your one laptop?
Perhaps we’re better served with dedicated devices instead of a “one-size-fits-all” PC, like what folks in the computing business have been saying for years. With the sometimes faulty and cumbersome functionality of working with powerful programs on a PC, a dedicated device offers a streamlined alternative. In other words, they’re optimized specifically to best edit your video productions, create your sonic symphonies, or what have you. Of course many of these devices already exist, but future-generation computing power will give us even more to create the creative devices of the future.
It may not look like much now but the Aleph leaves the development to musicians and programmers. The open source nature means the Aleph will grow as the community writes more algorithms for it. This doesn’t just mean new custom effects, it means entirely new methods for making music. And that means entirely new music.
Photographers, musicians, and filmmakers, would you rather have dedicated devices for your work or a PC that can run your programs? Which do you think is the future of creative work in the computer age?
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