2/25/2010 Music From the Future
This week i wanted to write about how technology changes the arts, specifically music. We’ve come a long way from the Bladder Pipe to Electric Guitar. Technology has allowed us to make fantastic music without getting our mouths anywhere near an animal’s bladder. So what is the instrument of the future?
The Reactable looks like an illuminated, round table with a diameter of about 1 m (3 ft.) and a glass top. At first glance, the musical instrument of the 21st century does not make such a futuristic and complicated impression. And it is exactly this that is the secret of the Reactable: The interaction between musician and instrument takes place simply and intuitively via the smooth surface of the table on which the artist places and moves different objects in relationship to each other. No buttons, no switches, no keys.
To operate the Reactable, various Plexiglas objects are placed on the table, related to each other and moved. These objects fulfill different functions based upon their geometric shape. For example, square shaped elements generate basic tones, while round objects act as sound filters, which modulate these basic tones. The symbol on the selected elements determines the type of the basic tone and/or the filter; the spatial relationship of the objects to each other determines the extent to which one element affects another. A special collection of symbols was conceived for the Reactable which meet the system requirements for easy and fast recognition. Due to the fact that they look like one celled organisms, the symbols were given the nickname “amoebae” by the researchers.
The Reactable projects markings onto the surface of the table to make the instrument easier to operate. These not only confirm to the musician that the object has been recognized by the system, but also provide additional information regarding the status of the generated tone and its interaction with neighboring objects. This allows the artist to see the connections and a dynamic graphic presentation of the generated sound waves on the table. The kicker: The musician can change individual sound parameters by touching the projected information with his finger.
Thanks to Allied vision tech for the material
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