Novation brings musical scales and modes to the latest firmware for the Launchpad Pro. The update aims to turn what was ostensibly a controller into a completely playable musical instrument.
Launchpad Pro note grid
An 8 by 8 grid of pads is not, perhaps, the most natural way to approach melody. However, there has recently been a strong move away from the traditional black and white notes of the western tradition, instead seeking out alternative modes of expression in the electronic and MIDI based world. Consider the Seaboard ROLI with its pitches between pitches and multi-dimensional expression. Hex-based harmony systems have appeared in touch-based controllers, and so have logical grids like the ones in Bitwig play mode. Analogue sequencers also tend towards a simple grid like structure. So, perhaps, a grid of 64 pads could be ideal for a bit of non-traditional feel.
Novation have essentially taken the melody and scale idea they have running on the Circuit and expanded it onto the larger Launchpad Pro form factor. You have 32 scales to choose from which lock the pads to a certain series of notes that ensure you never play a bum one. You have scales and modes such as Major, Minor, Phrygian, BeBop Minor, Iwato and a load of others we’ve never heard of. Understanding the scales is not as important as getting your fingers in there and trying them out. You’ll soon work out what works for you.
One thing I’ve always liked about matrix sequencers is the increased potential for cool accidental melody and this sort of scale locking really helps with that. Who needs to learn the tricky concepts of scales and fingering on a traditional keyboard when you have these sorts of tools at your disposal. Although you still need to learn to play on a grid – but whatever works for you.
The firmware update is available now free for all Launchpad Pro owners from the Novation website. And as a taster of how it can work check out the video below.