Novation Launchpad MIDI Controller Moves Toward Open Source

The Novation Launchpad is a MIDI controller, most commonly used with the Ableton Live digital audio workstation. It’s an eight by eight grid of buttons with RGB LED backlights that sends MIDI commands to your PC over USB. It’s often used to trigger clips, which is demonstrated by the artist Madeon in this video.

The Launchpad is useful as a MIDI input device, but that’s about all it used to do. But now, Novation has released an open source API for the Novation Pro. This makes it possible to write your own code to run on the controller, which can be flashed using a USB bootloader. An API gives you access to the hardware, and example code is provided.

[Jason Hotchkiss], who gave us the tip on this, has been hacking around with the API. The Launchpad Pro has a good old 5 pin MIDI output, which can be connected directly to a synth. [Jason]’s custom firmware uses the Launchpad Pro as a standalone MIDI sequencer. You can check out a video of this after the break.

Unfortunately, Novation didn’t open source the factory firmware. However, this open API is a welcome change to the usual closed-source nature of audio devices.

8 thoughts on “Novation Launchpad MIDI Controller Moves Toward Open Source

  1. The pad has the ability to play 64 tunes or more. One per button.
    Playing other artists works in sequences has little to do with artistic talent. As a keyboard these grid-pads have little instrument-musician interactive utility. Try to play Happy Birthday (no royalty) without it being preloaded into the memory.

      1. Top commenter belongs in /r/iamverysmart

        Are you saying it’s trivial to create a mash up that actually sounds good? When I hear someone talk about music like this, I just think how behind the times they really are. I used to be like this in high school and only listened to prog/metal. Working with samples is far more nuanced than you make it out to be, and new art always draws on past art.

        Who cares about playing happy birthday anymore anyway? You can take “music” to mean 88 notes and a drum kit, but that’s artificially constraining yourself. Any noise available can be music, and it takes just as much artistic talent to find the good art in the near-infinite possibilities of what can be created digitally as it does to find the good art from a particular instrument.

        Or just load note samples from a piano or something into each button… but that’s boring. ;)

  2. I own the old Launchpad with red and green (+ yellow) LEDs and I use it to control some stage lights at concerts. It’s great to start/stop effects, but I never had the urge to alter the function. It sends out MIDI over USB and that’s enough. But nevertheless it’s a great step to open source it!

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