On November 1st we launched BLOCKS, a new kind of modular music studio. “This is a new way to shape music,” said our founder and CEO, Roland Lamb, to a crowd of 400 people in a converted railway arch near London Bridge. “We believe NOISE plus BLOCKS is the most accessible and versatile music creation platform ever made.”

Roland unveiled not one, but five new products that all work together. There is the Lightpad Block, which lets you easily shape sound through simple gestures on an illuminated, pressure-responsive surface. Then there are the Live Block and Loop Block, two Control Blocks whose buttons make it even easier to perform and record music in real time. The BLOCKS system is powered by the NOISE app, which is also a great standalone music-making app for iPhones and iPads. Roland also announced a beta version of NOISE.fm, a social platform for sharing and discovering music made on BLOCKS and NOISE.

How does BLOCKS work? How can it help you make music more quickly, expressively, and enjoyably? Watch this video to see for yourself!

BLOCKS is now available at ROLI.com, Apple.com and Apple Stores all over the world. Just walk into an Apple Store and try it out! Or download NOISE now to get a feel for a new, intuitive way to make music.

BLOCKS has been covered by media around the world — here’s a few of the things they’ve said:

  • The Verge: “I’ve spent a lot of money and time on music gear and software, ranging from Roland to GarageBand, Maschine to FL Studio. And it’s not usually this easy to make something. It makes improvisation without theory possible, and I love it.” 
  • Sound on Sound: “BLOCKS distills the power of the Seaboard into a much more portable and affordable controller.”  
  • CNET: “You don’t need years of lessons — or frankly, any musical experience — to create your own beats with BLOCKS.”
  • Engadget: “It’s a powerful, fun, and flexible music-making tool.”  
  • Create Digital Music: “UK music startup ROLI are on one heck of a roll.

People are already engaging with BLOCKS in unexpected and open-ended ways— much like the modular BLOCKS system itself. Beatboxer 80Fitz and singer-songwriters Andrew Huang, B-Croma, and Julian Camarena have shared some of their first creations. 

World-renowned artists have also shared their love of BLOCKS — and their beats on BLOCKS. Hip-hop legend RZA electrified a crowd at the Apple Store in Brooklyn on November 3 with a live jam on two Lightpad Blocks. “If this was out when I was starting out, I’d have had a symphony done by the time I was 21,” he told the crowd.

Composer, producer, and pop star Grimes came to the launch party and said, “The thing I really love about BLOCKS is that it allows you to start producing music without necessarily having a lot of experience or skills.” RZA and Grimes will soon be releasing custom soundpacks that will available in NOISE.   

BLOCKS makes it easy to create a track from scratch, but it isn’t just for mobile music-making. BLOCKS works with a variety of professional software solutions and features and has an open SDK so can be used in a variety of pro settings. To see the performance capability of the system, check out the virtuosic BLOCKS performance by PARISI.

We’re just a couple weeks in, and it’s only the beginning. We can’t wait to see what you do with #ROLIBLOCKS and #ROLINOISE — please share it and help us spread the word!