I’m a huge fan of electronic music and the colorful “blinky” musical instruments that produce it. On the other hand, I generally don’t have the patience that it takes to truly master one of these devices, or even get enough use out of it to be worth the purchase price. Fortunately, there are all kinds of apps available that can help fill this need at a low or free price.
On the other hand, it’s hard to beat an actual purpose-built object. Even as software tools become better, we see dedicated hardware jumping to fill new roles. A great example of this is the monome, a grid of buttons, each hiding its own LED. It’s obvious use is as a looping controller, but since it appeared, it has been used for a myriad of live-music control tasks.
Here’s a MIDI device that uses an Arduino as the brains of the operation, with 16 WS2812B RGB LEDs to make the pads light up as needed. With just a four by four LED grid, it might be a bit more accessible for novices like myself. If you give it a whirl and decide it’s no longer useful, you could reprogram it to do something different, or perhaps turn the parts into something else!
Personally, I could also see something like this as an amazing robot controller (if you need a backup plan to justify it). On the other hand, it appears to do the job it was designed for—making electronic music—quite well, as seen in the video below.