Holon.ist - User Manual

Table of Contents


Holon.ist is an open world mobile music platform that lets users create their own musical mappings from real-world data.

Holon.ist gathers sensor data and can output MIDI and OSC to control software and hardware instruments.


Notable features:

Some Holonic scenarios:

When used passively, Holon.ist leaves your hands free for conventional instruments, try controlling timbre and effects with your head (requires bandana, possibly keytar). Add a Movesense on your foot for pedal action anywhere.

The Holonic logo serves as the power button. It is always pointing towards the sun.


This section lets you configure the inputs.

Apple Watch

Ensure that the Apple Watch Holon.ist app has completed installation.

Reopen Holon.ist after the Watch app has completed installation and ensure that the feature is activated under Sensors in the menu.

Using an Apple Watch with Holon.ist gives you the option of syncing your entire studio directly from your heart rate using Ableton Link. See the Pure Data / Link section of the manual.

Please note that some Apple Watch users may experience issues, such as connection failure or delayed signals. Restarting the Apple Watch and iPhone usually resolves these problems.

Bose AR Beta

Holon.ist supports Bose AR Beta. Bose AR Beta adds head tracking and head motion using nine axis sensors.

Supported devices are Bose Frames, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II.

Pair your Bose AR device by taping the Bose AR Beta entry in the Holon.ist Sensors menu.

An embedded example Pure Data patch that sonifies the location of the sun and moon is included. Open the preset named "demo_pd_bose_ar_tracker" to try the Bose AR beta.

Available Bose AR beta signals include:

Suunto Movesense

Created by the Finnish sports watch experts Suunto, Movesense smart sensors can track sports, health, equipment, machinery - anything that moves. With Holon.ist, these lightweight, shockproof and water resistant sensors integrate human physiology into your music; the user effectively becomes part of the musical circuitry.

Movesense BLE devices require pairing from the Movesense configuration page. Pull down the list to start scanning, tap the desired device to pair. To reorder Movesense devices, drag the icon on the right up or down.

To activate a Movesense, touch the two pins on the back simultaneously. To reset, remove the battery lid using a coin, momentarily disconnect the battery.

Holon.ist requires firmware version 1.5 or greater to be running on your Movesense device. See Movesense Upgrade

Estimote beacon

Estimote beacons are compatible with Holon.ist and include features such as proximity, presence and device motion. Estimote beacons can be used to trigger events or change states when entering a room or location.

Chef’s tip: Place on a door for musical notification of the door opening.


An included weather service pulls data from OpenWeatherMap for your current location. This data can be used for your patches to reflect your environmental conditions.

See how to use weather information from custom locations.

Serving suggestions: Map the damping of your reverb to humidity and size to temperature. Try controlling any parameter level by wind speed, e.g. noise level.

Sensor values

Here you can inspect all of the sensors available while also seeing their value in real time.

Your host device is named /holonist/* in the list of sensors.

Tapping the sensor name selects it for viewing in the Graph screen. It is possible to select several sensors.

Tip: Tapping an item also copies it to the clipboard, which can then be pasted into the Mappings section's input field.


Selected sensor values can be visually inspected as graphs in this screen.

Sous-chef’s surprise! It can be useful to view the graph on an external device, such as an iPad. This is possible with OSC peer-to-peer broadcasting.



Custom locations based on the current GPS position can be used for musical events. To add a location, press the New button. Press the Learn button to tag a location and enter a name.

The size of the geofence is set by the spatial threshold. The temporal threshold sets the amount of time required within the geofence until a trigger is generated.

This function can be used to map the positional range of one’s movements, for example, by learning the minimum and maximum distance from several locations (you can use the factory defaults in “demo_locations” or enter your own custom locations)

Saved locations appear as available mappings. These virtual sensor values indicate the distance to the geofence and its relation to your heading.

As mentioned in the Weather section above, you can also enter Lat/Lon coordinates to designate remote locations. This lets you use the current weather data from any global location by activating the Weather switch.


Movements, such as jumps and steps can be mapped by selecting the device and motion axis.


Custom postures can be recorded from physical sensors, either onboard or external.

To add a posture, press the New button. After selecting the source device and signal, press the Learn button to record a posture and enter a name to save it.

The range of the posture is set by the spatial threshold. The temporal threshold sets the amount of time required in posture until a trigger is generated.

Saved postures appear as available mappings. These virtual sensor values output either a binary value, or a percentage of the posture match e.g. /postures/name/match.


A JavaScript editor is available for advanced users. Once compiled, the script output values become available in the Mappings. Scripts can also access any sensor outputs.

To create a script, press New and select a template. Some example scripts are available, including Comparator, Sum, Scheduler, VLFO, Internet.


Mappings are the core feature of Holon.ist, it's where inputs are processed and routed to outputs.

Opening Mappings shows the values and meters of the current mappings. Tap the mapping to open the editor. Slide to the left, or tap the icon to disable, duplicate or delete.

A learn function is available for autoscaling of minimum and maximum values. Press Learn to start and stop the procedure.

Manual adjustment is also available by pressing the Advanced button. This allows you to constrain input and output values to a specific range.

Mozzarellieris morsel: Processing lets you apply a cosine or sine transformation (very useful for course and heading), or to transform the signal into a gate/binary signal.

Besides sending to a chosen OSC destination, there is also a default Holon.ist OSC output named ALL. This broadcasts the selected OSC messages to all destinations discovered or manually configured on the network. The feature is especially useful for setting up and testing purposes. Note that OSC bandwidth decreases when used with mappings that contain multiple OSC paths.


Outputs let you configure your output destinations.


Holon.ist supports flexible OSC routing:

Holon.ist OSC

To configure a Holon.ist OSC destination, press New, select Type Automatic, this will show you a list of available discovered services. Select the desired service and name and save your configuration. Note that the IP address and port number are automatically added.

mDNS/bonjour is used for autodiscovery.

Holon.ist automatically detects VCV Rack, Reaktor and Ableton Live when the Holonic Source plugin is loaded.
  • Requires Bonjour SDK from Apple to be installed: https://developer.apple.com/bonjour/
  • Check that the Bonjour Service is running.
  • For VCV Rack users on Windows, please follow the instructions below:
  • Run the script Holonic_Source_windows.bat. This script can be found in the plugin folder
  • c:\Users\\Documents\Rack\Plugins\HolonicSystems-Free\ The script publishes Holonic Source on the network to allow autodiscovery from Holon.ist app.
  • The DOS window needs to remain open for the duration of the VCV session.
  • Ensure Avahi is running.
  • Run the script. Holonic_Source_linux.sh. This publishes Holonic Source on the network to allow autodiscovery.
  • The shell window needs to remain open for the duration of the VCV session.


Custom OSC

OSC Message Format

The Holonic Source OSC message format is used to ensure close integration with our Holon.ist app. In order to use Holonic Source with any other OSC compatible application, please select port 9000.

The message OSC path is /<bus>/<channel>/<mode> where:

For instance `/a/2/cv` will address channel 2 of bus a in CV mode.

Argument value should be a float. Holonic Source accepts values in [-1,1] range or in [-10,10] range depending on the switch configuration in the GUI. When [-1,1] is selected, values will effectively be multiplied by 10.

Peer to peer OSC

True two-way communication is possible with Holon.ist. This makes all kinds of feedback and other interactions possible between different devices and users. For example, you could send heading from a mobile device to another tethered to a MIDI device.

To send OSC messages to an external device, go to Outputs, create an OSC destination and name it as you wish (e.g. external). Select Manual, enter the IP of the external device and use port 10000.

Then, create a mapping that receives the OSC message you just created and select OSC (the middle button). Choose your OSC destination (E.g. External) and OSC path (E.g. /iPadActivity)

Now, on your receiving device, make a new mapping and select your OSC path to be received (E.g. /iPadActivity). Any outputs you send to an external device are broadcast automatically to receiving devices and are available as mapping inputs.


The following options are available: RTP MIDI, BLE MIDI, USB MIDI.

MIDI CC's are configured in the mapping. Ensure the Scale switch is set to a suitable range (MIDI CC Min/Max is 0 to 127).

Please note: While MIDI CC outputs are natively supported, Holon.ist MIDI triggers are created inside a configurable PureData patch. If you need to create MIDI notes inside Holon.ist, you can open the preset called “demo_pd_midi” and configure the mappings.

Known issues:
- In order to send MIDI from Holon.ist, it is recommended that you open MIDI/AU host devices before opening Holon.ist. You can always re-open Holon.ist afterwards, as it autosaves your configuration.
- AUM users should select “AUM Destination” in the MIDI Routing, NOT Holon.ist Virtual MIDI.

Pure Data / Link

Pure Data is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio processing. Holon.ist lets you load a PD Vanilla compatible patch.

Embedded Pure Data (LibPD) lets create your own instruments and musical rules for places, sports, games, or anything involving movement and micromovements.

The embedded Pure Data (libPD) implementation in Holon.ist supports audio, MIDI and OSC inputs and outputs.

You can edit and build PD patches for Holon.ist on your computer. Mail one of the demo presets to yourself and save it on your computer. Change the file extension from .holonist to .zip. Contained is a file named “main.pd”. This is the root of the PD patch and is what Holon.ist looks for when loading.

All our demo patches contain the same Pure Data Holonic Skeleton which allows you to:

Use Ableton Link. Send messages to LibPD /clock/bpm to change the BPM.

Easily route OSC messages. The OSC messages are converted to a PD compatible format (slashes are replaced with spaces) which allows you to [route] messages. The message router also sends the message directly to the corresponding box. For example: sending /partA/partB/partC 1.0 to libPD from holon.ist, the box [r partA] receives “partB partC 1.0”, and you can further [route] messages from here on.

Please find among the presets some templates to use as starting points.

Tip: It is possible to run PD patches on your computer and send OSC to the message router in the example PD file called Holonic Skeleton. By default the Holon.ist Pure Data Skeleton listens for OSC messages on port 5000. Once complete, you may then transfer the PD patch to your phone. To do this, simply compress the PD patch to a .zip file and rename it to .holonist. This allows you to install the PD file on your phone, via email, for example.

Using Ableton Link with Holon.ist gives you power over tempo like never before. Fully, or only partially under your conscious control.

Escueleries proposition: Heart rate clock. This feature lets you clock an entire studio from your heart rate, using Apple Watch or Movesense. Please leave the min/max values empty in this use case as they are not needed for this type of mapping.

Step rate controlled tempo is another good biomechanical clock. To make a mapping for this, use /holonist/stepsPerSecond. Your min/max output ranges should reflect a multiplication of 60 to turn this sensor value into a usable tempo range. E.g. 1.5 steps per second = 90 BPM, 2 steps per second = 120 BPM etc.

Chef’s tip: You can really use anything to modulate the clock. Time of day, sun position, altitude etc.

All Link mappings must be sent to the destination LibPD and the OSC path /clock/bpm. The PD vanilla patch must be loaded for this, it is included with all default presets. Be sure to enable Pure Data and Link in the Pure Data/Link section as shown below.



Presets contain Mappings, Postures, Locations, Motion, the current PD patch and Scripts.

Presets are accessed through the Utilities menu. Initially, Holon.ist opens with a preset called demo_holonist_osc. It includes mappings for the Holonic Source demo patches and can be loaded at any time. The mappings include a taste of the many possibilities Holonic Source offers.

Also included are the following presets, which can be used as building blocks:

To save a Preset enter a name and press Save.

The Saved Preset then appears in the list below. Tapping the Preset icon (three dots) enables you to Load, Share or Delete.

Pressing Load gives you the option to Load (deletes previous mappings), Merge (adds mappings to existing). At this stage you may choose to Load/Merge individual components of the Preset as shown below. This lets you combine parts of different presets.

A message from the kitchen: Please note that for the time being, when Merging, you are required to manually assign the output destinations, in order to avoid duplicate outputs.

Presets can be shared with other users, via email or Airdrop, for example. Presets can be imported from email by pressing the standard Share button (top right) and by selecting “Copy to Holonist” from the menu. You can then choose whether to import the file to the list of saved presets, or to load it immediately. When sharing presets, some settings are excluded, such as your OSC Destinations.

Presets are just zip files. By renaming the extension to .zip, you may inspect the contents.


Record raw data from the sensor streams and play them back in either one shot or loop mode. Press record to start and stop recording. Name the recording and press save. Recordings can be loaded and shared by tapping the icon.


Holon.ist keeps a log of events for debugging purposes.


Multiuser mode enables users on the same network to sync. Ensure that Ableton Link is enabled in Outputs.

Saucier’s suggestion: This screen is useful for finding IP addresses of other Holonic devices on the same WiFi network.


This manual is also available in the app, accessible from the Utilities menu.


We are constantly working on improving Holon.ist and your feedback is very much appreciated. Please send any bug reports, feature requests and questions to: info@holonic.systems