Female Monome Users?

  • In the lead-up to buying my grayscale 64 I spent months watching just about every video I could find on the Monome on YouTube and Vimeo--performances, demonstrations and tutorials--and in all of these the only female Monome users I saw were Kelli C. and Imogen Heap.

    It is impossible to tell a person's gender from a username on the forums, but I was curious to know if there are more female users than I think or if the Monome community is male-dominated? I'm not asking anyone to reveal his or her gender if they would rather not; I'm just trying to get a sense of the community. Does anyone know of women who use the device?

    And no, this doesn't really matter one way or the other, I was just curious. For what it's worth my wife couldn't be less interested in my Monome. I showed it to her when it arrived, and while she loves me dearly making electronic music isn't her cup of tea.

  • My wife played with it for a few minutes... I dont know of any others.

  • my girlfriend has touched my monome once. that's about it...

  • I predict this thread will go downhill quickly.

  • i just sold a monome cover to a nice lady in DC. but i don't know if she is on here or not.

  • my girl has nooo interest in blinking buttons......
    dunno why! i could talk about em alllll the live long day
    oh wait..... maybe thats why.....

  • my girlfriend was all about building one (read: having me do it) into "a cute little music box" after we went to the monomeet. hasn't happened yet tho.

    also, papertiger is a monome user. speak up, lady! (i also claim full responsibility for her addi(c)tion.)

  • @stretta:

    I hope not.

  • how many women dj-s are there?

    how many women doing electronic music?

    how many dig synthesizers?

    "alternative controllers"?

    DIY electronics?

    electrical engineering?

    there are a lot of overlapping things that bring one to a monome.

    I don't know what is going on exactly, either. Could it simply be the geek factor? Are geeks mainly male?

    don't know

  • @tetramorph:

    That's kind of what I was wondering, I guess. Is female participation limited due to lack of interest, or does the male dominance of the field make women think "it isn't for me?" Turning this around I would guess that more knitting or crafting blogs are started by women. Do I dislike knitting? No, although when I tried I wasn't very good at it. But it doesn't hold my interest. Not sure why.

    I would have to think that anyone who was interested in making music would make it, gender be damned. But that doesn't seem to be there case here.

  • I bought and put together a 40h for my girlfriend after she wanted one for so long... she doesnt use it though :(

  • @Axolotl: I'll take the unused 40h :D

    @antiphon: I went to a small, private technology school. One year, approximately 1300 on-campus students. That year, less than 10 were female. It's my opinion that the interest is lacking -- that it's not a 'males run this field' type mentality.

    My girl is interested in what it takes to write music, but like was previously said, this stuff just doesn't hold her interest. I think that she would be more interested, if it was more straight-forward and accessible. Knitting and crafting are easily accessible, and with otherwise immediate results -- a monome, or even software like Reason (legally), are not as readily accessible (and generally take a long time to make something worth while).

  • my lady friend pounds on the monome from time to time, she even made me a super dope monome cake...


  • That cake is sweet! Good to hear that there are a few female fingers tickling the buttons.

  • I'm female, I just don't post here much and the only monome video I have on youtube is just a sort of test run.

    Before, I built my 40h though, I never dabbled in midi controlling. It was the mostly the idea of building one that really piqued my interest. That may be unusual, but many of my other interests, electric guitar, programming are male-dominated too. I'm used to it.

  • my gf touched the buttons and said it feels nice and is pretty amazed about what the monome can do but she has no interest in actually using and doing stuff with it. she loves music and seeing live syuff just as much as me but the creating it part doesn't appeal to her at all. i don't know.

    i also went to school for audio production and in four years i probably came across a handful or so that were female. i think maybe years ago it would be harder for a women but right now i just think it's more a lack of interest on their part. i'd have no problem with it.

  • my wife surprised me and gave me my 128 2 years ago. i had no idea that she was going to do that.

    best wife ever.

  • @mapmap:

    That is a pretty good wife. Mine didn't say no when I told her I was buying one. I thought that wasn't bad. ;]

  • I usually stay away from these types of threads, but the members of this forum seem to be a bit more...sensitive....?...than members of other forums I've been on, and plus I do want to give Joe credit where it's due re: the monome introduction (first hit was free) and because he brought a girl to the party. =P

    anyway, the short answer is I don't know. I've been thinking about this issue ever since I got into digital audio editing (in about 1999 or so...) and electronic music (high school...1993...) and realized that the only "female role models" I had were Bjork, Kemistry and Storm, and 1.8.7. (a big "hmm" on the latter). Looking at my Last.fm charts and my music listening habits, that hasn't changed a lot: the electronic music I listen to is dominated by men. I guess Ellen Allien, AGF, and BArbara Morganstern have been added to the list. And Portishead -- but does Beth get in the driver's seat? Or is it all Geoff?

    Does it matter? Should it matter?

    I have theories on this issue in general, but a late night at work isn't conducive to intelligent thought. Plus, this issue is difficult to discuss in this setting. Maybe at the next East coast monome meet we can have some beers, wings and discuss.

    I will say though, that I do get excited when I see another girl around. Yes, there's a certain thrill to being in the boys' clubhouse, but it's far more exciting to see another girl around. So hi, bluecaper.

    I'm used to it too. =)


  • So there.

    The answer is, Yes, there are female monomers out there. They just don't bum-it-out on the forum like us fellas :)

  • @papertiger:

    Thanks for the post. I didn't think we'd find any answers here, but I was curious to see what other people had to say. I think you're right about the Monome forums being a bit more open and fair-minded overall, thus I felt I could start this discussion without it degenerating into something silly.

    The consensus seems to be, so far, that it is lack of interest as opposed to chauvinism that keeps more women from pursuing electronic music either casually or professionally. I think it's a shame whatever the reason, but facts are facts, I guess.

  • I think role models certainly help. When one sees someone else doing something, its easier to think of it as a possibility for one. "Oh, Sarah is producing electronic music. Maybe I can do that too."

  • @antiphon

    that may be the consensus among some of those that have posted, but I don't agree with the proposition that it's lack of interest. It might also be due to lack of exposure.

    I think there is an element of truth to what watson is suggesting -- the concept that if you don't see others like yourself doing something, then you might not feel like you could do it too. it becomes something for "others," not people like you. my mother works in education and sees the same thing happen with respect to certain types of school programs where certain students don't participate because that's for "x" kinds of kids, and they are "y" kinds of kids. it would take a "y" kid to "cross over" and participate to begin to change perceptions. hope that's not too grad school. =)


  • Interesting thread....I suspect role models would certainly help get more girls making electronic music though I think an other big problem may be in the 'nature' of guys vs girls. In my experience, most girls tend to like to do things that have an inherent social/group component and unfortunately much of electronic music is very 'solo'.

    I think that if electronic music were to have more of a social, let's meet up/talk/jam component to it (and there was a less sitting around troubleshooting) there would be a lot more girls doing it (and it would be better in general)....I don't know if it will help at all, but I have talked to some girls about the handmade music workshop/gathering I'm trying to organize. Hopefully we can make the space friendly enough to all comers that they will feel comfortable. :)

    Also...in the spirit of making things easier and more collaborative, I know a guy here in Toronto who has been talking about some very interesting stuff using low cost embedded electronics...the idea being to make modular devices that you could dedicate to some sort of musical task that would connect together in a useful way. The goal is to step away from the laptop and build things that are more intuitive to use and collaborate with. Don't know if that would help at all though haha!

    Anyways, I'm no sociologist so I don't really know what the cause/solution is, but the electronic music world would be enriched by more female perspective so I hope to see more girls making electronic music in the future!

  • Women only have the brain capacity to be able to deal with day to day household task's such as cleaning and getting my tea. They should stick to what they are good at like coming to see me play whilst looking pretty.

  • @papertiger:

    I didn't mean to imply that lack of interest was all there was to the phenomenon. And by consensus I did mean these recent forum posts as well as my own anecdotal evidence (all of the women in my life have shown little or no interest in making electronic music). This does not mean that I can extrapolate these findings into a wider context. I think the role model thing is key and can be self-perpetuating. If girls are not exposed to electronic musicians who are women it stands to reason that few will even consider it an option. Personally I never considered it an option even for myself until recently, but that's not for lack of role models of course.

    I have a discussion like this with friends quite often, not in relation to gender but in relation to creativity in general. Personally I don't think I am very good at what I do creatively, but I enjoy doing it and so I carry on. When people say, "I'm not creative," or "I could never do that" it drives me nuts because EVERYONE has the capacity to be creative. But many people, men and women, are taught that "art" is made by "artists" and not by everyday folks. This is complete BS, but that mind-set is powerfully immobilizing.

    It seems true that the lack of role models and exposure to the process may explain the general dearth of female electronic acts as well as the seemingly few female Monome users, but it begs the "chicken or the egg" question: are there fewer women participating because they are not interested, or are they not interested because they don't see many women participating? I have to think it is a combination of both, but to what degree I don't know.

    @Stephen M:

    In my experience you're right about the social/loner component. For example, few women I know are into building their own PCs from scratch. I know a woman who is a programmer, but she buys Apple laptops for her home computers even though she could easily build her own box if she wanted to. She just isn't interested. I tend to spend a good deal of time alone in my office tinkering with both music gadgets and computers because I like to do it and because being alone is a comfortable state for me. Not all women are social and not all guys are loners, for sure, but I think men and women trend in different directions in general, the fallout of which may be what you describe.

    I have a feeling my wife would be more interested in something like the Percussa Audiocubes where she could move and rearrange a tactile object to make combinations of sounds without any hardware know-how, but I am certain she would not want to compose a full track or care much about the underlying concepts. She is more social than I am, but not by much. And she's smarter than I am, too, so it isn't a question of brain power.

    EDIT: Jesus, I didn't realize how long this post was until I posted it. Sorry, guys. Now who's too grad school?

  • It's a long, long history of men controlling and deciding what women should and shouldn't do. It's prolonged by the mothers who've deferred to it. It's perpetuated by marketing and media. It's the number one reason for the guy thing and the girl thing being two different things.

    check this girl out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikwuQLCWayk

    EDIT: btw, my wife is not so interested in this stuff like the monome or electronic music but it seems like every year that passes and I continue to create new things with it, the more she comes around. She recently made our 11month daughter a "My First Monome" out of stuffed felt. I added a couple of sound triggers to it's innards as well. She shakes her booty every time she hears it. The baby, that is.

  • i agree with some of Tetramorph's points, which is to say that electronic music in general is already male-dominated. so, in a lot of ways, the monome community was seeded from a previously skewed population.

    what i've found personally interesting is how the demographic of the monome community has diversified so rapidly. for example, here is a video of the first monome gathering i hosted: http://vimeo.com/924420 you've got 10 young boys in a room, most of them wearing black t-shirts and denim. there is no way to have expected who those 10 aliases on the forums would be, and frankly it doesn't matter.

    i think attempting to quantify diversity is unproductive and impossible. qualitatively, personally, i felt like at last september's monomeet (just a year and a half later than the above meetup video) the participants were orders of magnitude more diverse. people from all over the place came through, doing all kinds of things in their everyday lives. i_am_genko flew in from Peru for christsake! in many ways, i feel like monome is leading the way in transcending the traditional demographic of electronic music. look at all of these people get down with chili: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sykes/3991545414/sizes/l/in/pool-1211151@N24/

    to address antiphon's point specifically - most of the women i've met at these gatherings were just starting to get into monome, i wouldn't be surprised if there are more active female users in the very near future.

    the most beautiful thing about online communities is that you don't know what anyone looks like. we are united by our interests alone.

  • @rawray7:

    To readdress papertiger's point, does the anonymity (and genderlessness) of the community forums mean that the few female monome users are unaware of each other? The anonymous nature of the forums does provide a common hub of interest without regard to race, color, creed, age or gender, but if papertiger is right and it would be helpful for women if they saw more women participating, maybe this cuts both ways. Frankly I am in favor of remaining anonymous for the most part, but might this be one instance where it backfires a little bit?

  • Looking at my post above, it seems like I know what I'm talking about. I don't. Women will always be a mystery.

    I foresee a future where my wife and I are 60 and I'm busy knitting a sweater and she comes in and says "You know what's so cool, if I take the gate signal and inverse it then I can use that to stop the sequencer when I release the key"

    I can dream.

    btw, synth babes on matrixsynth: http://matrixsynth.blogspot.com/search/label/Synth%20Babes

  • I have to ask... where does Wendy Carlos fit into this discussion?

  • @antiphon:

    i completely agree and i think this is an extremely important discussion to have. i would really love to see more active female members in the community, and i think its important to have someone like imogen heap leading the way.

    my point about the beauty of anonymity wasn't meant to be a call to 'remain anonymous'. i think its important to host real world events and i've become great friends with a number of people through this community. i merely wanted to emphasize that the monome has been a truly amazing tool for connecting people.

  • I didn't mean everyone should remain anonymous all the time. Monomeets are a good idea. Protecting privacy via anonymity in these forums is sensible generally, but as discussed can prove to be problematic when female users remain shrouded from each other and the community as a whole. I'm not sure what can be done other than meeting face to face at the occasional gathering. More female practitioners would be fantastic and certainly would enrich and expand the community.

    I have found that the monome users who post here seem to be an agreeable lot which is why I have been more comfortable posting here than elsewhere. "Community" indeed.

  • Hi, one more standing up to be counted! I wouldn't normally get into a discussion like this, but it does seem like a particularly nice group of people here in monome-land. I am new to the monome and my fingers are still in ninja training (thanks edison and chilli for setting the bar so high...). I hope to post a video of a tune I'm working on soon though! I have quite a few interests in male-dominated fields and have always had to find my own way into them (the lack of role models is a definite handicap). Happily, I do think that a lot of it is changing as more women are getting into the good and geeky stuff. Let's mash those gender stereotypes into beautiful music!

    papertiger said
    "I will say though, that I do get excited when I see another girl around. Yes, there's a certain thrill to being in the boys' clubhouse, but it's far more exciting to see another girl around."

    so true

  • i agree that its pretty exciting to see girls in the club house particually when all the boys are geeks pressing buttons and tweeking knobs. I am amazed that there are so many posts referring to wives and girlfriends! I sometimes wonder how my partner has put up with such geekness for so long.

  • My wife--yep, got a wife--puts up with my geekiness too. After 22 years she must be used to it. She has no inclination to pound the monome buttons, but she does support my hobby in a big way.

    +1 to more women in the community.

    Little Boots / Tenori-on = Imogen Heap / monome?

  • what about that kickin monome tattoo? who is that?

  • http://herbeats.com/

  • I'm happy to se that we have, I believe, proved stretta wrong here. This thread has wonderfully trended uphill, rather than downhill. Its always nice to learn more about ones community, and you folks have definitely become a warm part of my heart. Glad to hear that the superior gender is willing to grace us with their presence. Welcome and well met!