Reorganizing an interface in Reaktor can make a big difference, but the team behind BricK have gone a great deal of extra distance. They couple Reaktor sounds with a multi-touch, collaborative table interface. You can read the full details on Create Digital Music, but I want to call particular attention to the Reaktor element – and how changing the interface impacts the way this works musically:
Designed as a minimalist interface to free musicians from traditional compositional markers such as frets and keys, the environment enables musicians to compose intuitively through immediate visual and sonic feedback.
In Spaces, we discussed a few different ideas about the layout and design of the interface. Ultimately, we decided on Spaces being able to control four different instruments, each with four parameters (volume, and three others). We toyed with different methods for visually representing the value of each column without turning them into a traditional slider. We felt the cool-to-hot color morph in each column was fitting: the user has to rely more specifically on the sonic result rather than exact value, veering from more traditional musical interface paradigms.
Spaces generates sounds in a number of different ways, all using Reaktor. Each of the four instruments employs a selection of synthesis methods. Some columns control pitch, other columns control combinations of filters and effects. The clicky percussive sounds are generated from an audio loop which is granulized and re-synthesized with altered delay rate, etc.
Now, you could easily implement this kind of visual interface itself in Reaktor. But in this case, there’s a lot of additional work that goes beyond Reaktor, in the form of camera tracking for fingers on the table. The creators took advantage of the fact that Reaktor can receive OpenSoundControl data, a feature I hope we’ll see revisited in the future (various iPhone apps now also send OSC, as do many VJ apps).
I also found it interesting that Jordan and Owen are interested in using Reaktor more in these sorts of works, because of the sounds it’s capable of producing. This certainly inspires me to think of Reaktor creation in new ways. We’re deep into some new tutorial creation. I can’t wait to share them with you.
Well worth checking out the full story, which goes into some of the philosophy of the project and the musical approach to the whole thing: