The idea of the Reactable is to make music tangible, with control of sound mapped to physical objects you move around on a table. But that hasn’t stopped the Psychosynth from creating a virtual version. (Upside: it’s a lot more portable.)


Watch the video, but they seem to have made the opening minutes as dull as possible to thin out the non-believers. Skip past the generation of the white noise oscillator (wow, white noise!), and somewhere around halfway through, it becomes laugh-out-loud funny, with trance-style vocals about freeing your mind with free software. (Seriously – it’s awesome.)

While it’s in alpha stage, the software is fully free and open source (binaries available for Debian and OpenSUSE) – and that means this could be a good project to snoop around in or code through, those of you who are eager hackers.

At its heart, it’s simply an interactive modular synth inspired by Reactable. Drag objects around and connect them to make sounds and patterns. Underneath is a powerful C++ synth library, a 3D synth, and even a server version – so even if you aren’t sold on this interface, there are pieces here that could be useful. It’s all virtual now, but that’s not to say you couldn’t add input; support for the input library is planned later.

That said, I don’t think they went far enough with the virtual thing. Next, why not simulate virtual players for the virtual Reactable inside the computer. They could even behave like Sims, requiring regular stimulation and bathroom breaks. Eventually, you could unlock Bjork.

Enjoy. If anyone gets this up and running even in alpha state, let us know.

Previously: tables and tangible, like the lovely acoustic sounds of Etiquette and, of course, Spaces / Roots

  • Paul

    what about a virtual computer which to compute the virtual reactable that could crash and need regular virtual maintenance and then a virtual art house in which to show off the reactable where you could virtually pay a monthly rental fee and pay for a virtual security guard to keep out the hobos (unless you were planning a hobo friendly art venue which would just be completely absurd) while you aren't there you could ride around in your virtual car in a virtual city made in a virtual onmilandmass on a virtual world not unlike our own virtual world the only catch was that the computer wasn't a computer at all it was really a witchly mixture for crazy witch trickery made of henbane and frog legs powering your now evilified reactable that reacts to your fear of its ensuing chewing of your legs and a tiny fear molding over a sticky green in the back of your mid of daddies devil liquid from which he oft'n sneaks a smooch with while mommies not lookin' there is no escaping the evil reactable that you may or may not release onto our virtual world so please just keep that puppy in the puppy pouch of your pantsminds

  • Defyer

    This + MIDI implementation would surely rock my linux system! I've always wanted a Reactable.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Awesome!!! I tried to find a download on their site, something in mac form … but I could find nothing.

    Guess I'll wait for the beta, and keep messing around with Tiction.

  • lilith

    I don't know about this, but I love the word "pantsminds"

  • gbsr

    inspired by reactable is a bit of an understatement dont you think? heh.

    too bad i dont have linux running right now though, always wanted to try a reactable.

  • billyjoebob

    Someone must make Windows binaries. This looks like a lot of fun.

  • (noou)

    test (sorry! my comment doesn't get published)

  • test2
    (anyways.. that "virtual tangible", although paradoxical, is fun!)

  • Max

    Nice Idea, but i doubt that the 3D-Look (which needs CPU-Power) is really necessary. Wouldn't a birds-eye view be better? Can't tell at fist hand though, since i don't have linux running.

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  • thomash

    these days a 3d interface like this uses hardly any cpu since the graphics card does all the calculations

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  • Geoff

    how difficult would it be to recompile for OS X? 😛

  • This looks absolutely brilliant. I'm trying to get it up and running now – looks a bit tricky so hope my Linux skills are up to it!

    I love the idea of playing live with this – think running it through a projector so the audience can see what you're doing would be great, visually.

    Fingers crossed it's stable enough / i can get it to work 🙂

  • turns out to be pretty simple to install:
    binaries available for Ubuntu at

    works fine. even with jack.
    excellent stuff.
    off to make some weird tunes with it now 🙂

  • Good to know that the Ubuntu binaries are working for someone outside my laptop, dubstep 🙂 We needed package testers.