Music Thing Modular 8mu

Music Thing Modular 8mu: Teeny weeny MIDI controller


A MIDI controller from the makers of the Turing Machine module? This should be good, and it will fit in your jeans.


I’m trying to decide if the name is somehow too clever for me to grasp or just because it has eight things and it’s a MIDI…. unit? Anyway, 8mu is indeed a MIDI controller from Tom Whitwell at Music Thing Modular. It’s about the size of a credit card but a whole lot thicker. It has 8 sliders capped in rather delicious Roland 808-style colours, it has 6 buttons hidden around the edges and inside is an accelerometer to convert another 8 aspects of movement into MIDI.

The sliders send MIDI controller messages and can be configured with up to 8 banks for controlling a whole world of things. A couple of buttons do the bank up/down thing, whereas the other four can play notes or trigger other MIDI things. There are all sorts of LEDs behind the panel indicating what’s going on. It’s powered and sends MIDI over USB, and it also has minijack MIDI output which is configurable as Type A or Type B.

Everything about it is handled via a browser-based editor. It’s open and hackable and can be programmed in Arduino or Circuit Python, so it could do all sorts of things. It was largely inspired by the 16n project although it can’t send CV or i2c.

8mu is being launched with Thonk at The Synth Shed workshop in Croydon on the 22nd of April. You can book yourself in and build your own. It costs about £120.

It’s a beautiful little thing in any context. I never have enough room for controllers, and grabbing something quickly and easily is very cool. Also, the accelerometer performance aspects are pretty cool. I was also thinking about the several Eurorack modules that have MIDI inputs. It could be a simple way of pulling out additional control to another device. Nice!

However, they do need a cooler demo video. They need someone trendy, making music in the street, wobbling the 8mu about the place to capture their dancing and translate it into MIDI control over some lo-fi beats. Instead, we have the slow MIDI control of some faders. Come on Tom, get with it!