What is Ensemble?

Ensemble is a way to create a musical instrument for any ability. Instruments an create sound, light, image, effects or any combination.

It is made up of three parts:

  1. Ensemble PC software
  2. Inputs
  3. Outputs
Join blocks together on screen to design themes for Ensemble

How does it work?

Ensemble software runs on your PC. This is the hub of your system, where signals from movement detectors are turned into the effects you want.

Themes are designed by linking together cause and effect on screen. Simply drag blocks representing inputs and outputs onto the map area and join them together.

Sal McKeown

"Create some simple cause-and-effect activities or bring a jungle scene or Rio Carnival into your classroom. Ensemble can manage everything except authentic weather. The resources can be customised in lots of different ways and pupils control the whole rig themselves using switches or an Xbox controller if necessary."

Sal McKeown, The Inclusive Gems of BETT2013

On the left hand side of the screen are a series of 'palettes', that contain 'blocks' to do different jobs.

The exact palettes and blocks you have will depend on your particular setup, but core palettes include:

Input
Red blocks representing your physical switches & sensors. If you have lots of different inputs then you may find this split into several sections.

Tools
Blue blocks change the link between cause and effect with tools such as Delays and Timers.

Sounds
Green sound blocks trigger audio (wav & MP3) & MIDI notes, chords and controllers.

Image & Video
Use image and video, controlling transition effects and timing.

You can also download additional blocks from the support website to add new features.

Ensemble palette showing Sounds blocks
Aled Jones

"As soon as I saw the software I understood how it worked. Plugging together the different blocks seems pretty straightforward. It’s very self-explanatory - the colour coding really helps. When you’ve created your map, it’s just a case of pressing play and away you go!"

Aled Jones, Accessible Arts & Media, York

Blocks joined on screen to create a map

To create a map (or theme) for your Ensemble system:

  1. Find the blocks you want to use in the palettes and drag them onto the map area.
  2. Change the settings for each block to match what you want to do. For example tell the Audio Clip block what sound to play and how to play it.
  3. Connect the blocks together by dragging a line between them. This lets you tell Ensemble what each switch or sensor should be doing.
  4. Hit the 'Play' button and test.

When you've finished creating your theme, it can be saved and opened using Launchpad.

Sound on Sound Magazine

"The software has a drag-and-drop interface with graphical representations of various stages, which can be connected by the good old 'virtual cable' we are all used to. More complex setups can be linked to lighting, images and other media, making Apollo Ensemble not just a musical instrument, but an integrated staging production tool."

Pete Thomas, Sound on Sound Magazine, January 2013

Launchpad

Quick and simple to use, Launchpad provides a friendly front-end for playing back themes you've already created.

Click on an icon to select the theme, then press the Play button to start it. Mute and vary the overall volume for master control. Pause to stop. Select another icon to change the theme.

Launchpad software window with icons for different themes
Diane Paterson

"It’s great that you can configure it so fast - I haven’t seen anything else that does it as easily - it’s really liberating!"

Diane Paterson, YAMSEN