Updated: Oct 19, 2020
If you have ever watched some DJ or electronic producer tapping on a piece of midi controller that came with many fancy colour changing pads on it, you would probably wonder how does it actually works or what is it?
If you are reading this article I suppose you must have watched some youtube stars such as Mashmello, Madeon, TAK, M4SONIC, SoNevable or at least one of them playing a Novation launchpad in their videos. I'm not very sure which was the first launchpad video I watched but I remember when I first saw "K-pop culture" live mashup by TAK it was really a mind blowing experience for me, and later found out that the mash-up video idea was actually inspired by "Pop culture" - Madeon which is definitely another master piece in my opinion and it has also inspired me making a mash-up like this many years later when I got my first launchpad and learnt more about how it works, the one I did on youtube is called "CNY Culture", a live mash up of many Chinese New Year Song that I've grown up listening to, had some fun making that content although it really took me sometime to figure it out how to make it work, but at the end it's all worth it.
So..what makes launchpad so unique? Is it just as fancy as it looks, some said it's a toy for teenager? Some said it's very much like an instrument? After spending a significant amount of time digging it, I learnt that it could be used in many ways, such as a midi controller, designing a light show with Ableton, using it as a live looping machine, or even as a mixer to enhance your music production workflow, it's a very versatile gear and definitely worth the money if you know how to use it and fully utilise its functions.
The most popular way that was being used is to make a lightshow, whether on a song that you produced or a song you like, all 64 RGB pads light up to match the colour of your clips in Ableton Live and you can see at a glance what’s loaded, playing and recording. as far as I know, there are only two ways in making a launchpad light show.
Method one, chopping your song into many small pieces and and assign each light show effects that you spend time designing into designated pieces of the song, when you tap on the pad the light effect and the designated part of the song will be played simultaneously, then the rest are just practicing until you feel confidence to play it on time.
Method two, which I think is the easier one because you don't have to spend time for practicing but you still have to put in all the hardwork in designing and assign all your lighting effects idea in Ableton into different part of the song, when you play the song, those lighting effects will be played in order, the only drawback for this is that you may not be able to perform with it as in everything will be played automatically but there are still many people faking it like they perform by pretending to tap the pads, which I would not encourage you to do.
In short, if you just want to design a light show to post on youtube without having a plan to perform it anywhere in the near future, and don't want to spend time in practicing, method two could be a good and efficient way to go. I have actually made a "Shin Chan Remix" launchpad lightshow with this method too, might as well have a look if you want to have a better picture out of it.
The Novation Launchpad could also be used as a midi controller with any DAW, it offers an 8x8 grid RGB pads that let you launch clips, play drum racks and create melodies. You can also control your mixer: start and stop loops, arm tracks, and control volumes, pans and sends.
In conclusion, I think it will definitely worth the time and money, go and buy one especially when Black Friday is just around the corner, it could be a good christmax gift as well, and make some good music with it, I hope that you can sleep with my explanation tonight, if not please let me know in the comment section if you have any questions or what kind of topic you would like me to talk about next one, have a good one and have fun with the launchpad!