Orphion is an instrument, merging ideas from percussion and strings into something you can play on the iPad. And now you can create your own layouts and tunings. Images courtesy the developer.

Freehand Playable Circles, in Any Tuning, on iPad: New Orphion Editor

Design is the art of compromise. And so, as the touch tablet asks you to sacrifice some things – velocity sensitivity, physical separation, tactile feedback – it gives back the ability to produce freeform interfaces. The iPad’s downside is that it is a piece of undifferentiated glass; its upside is that that glass can transform into anything you like. That makes it a bit puzzling when it is reduced to a set of fake knobs and faders, which has the advantages of neither physical hardware nor the iPad’s open-ended possibilities. When it was first produced, I praised Orphion as an …


With Advanced MIDI Controls, Radial Loopseque App on iPad Gets More Interesting

In a world of $5 apps and no upgrade fees, the fear of abandonware casts its shadow on the otherwise lush gardens of the App Store. (The spectre was raised just yesterday by iMaschine lovers eager for new functionality.) Here’s a terrific counter-example. Loopseque was a compelling app when released; we covered its launch and design in 2010, complete with one of my favorite images from an iOS story on CDM, impromptu ballpoint-pen sketches of its circular interface. Loopseque hasn’t just gotten updates. It’s gotten MIDI functionality so rich that it could be worth a second look, even if you …


Like a Wheel Within a Wheel: Beautiful Optical Turntables Generate Spinning Rhythms

Music is deeply tied up with motion; seeing that in a machine is somehow satisfying. Soundmachines, from the enigmatically-titled Berlin studio TheProduct*, is an interactive physical installation made from optical turntables. By moving the “tone arm” – really in this case an optical sensor attached to an extended mount – you can change rhythms and sound sweeps. We’ve naturally seen many visualizations, tangible and digital, that make loops into wheels. But it’s worth noting the particular connection to a kinetic experiment by The Books’ Nick Zammuto from the film earlier this week. In fact, my one criticism of this piece …


Circles and Euclidean Rhythms: Off the Grid, a Few Music Makers That Go Round and Round

Loopseque on the iPad. Courtesy the developer. We continue our 3.14 celebration with a round-up of circular logic. There’s no reason apart from the printed score to assume music has to be divided into grids laid on rectangles. Even the “piano roll” as a concept began as just that – a roll. Cycles the world around, from a mechanical clock to Indonesian gamelan, can be thought of in circles. Imagine an alternate universe in which Raymond Scott’s circle machine – a great, mechanical disc capable of sequencing sounds – became the dominant paradigm. We might have circles everywhere, in place …


Loopseque, New iPad App, Offers Circular Sequencing and Visual Inspiration

For centuries, music has had scores as visual representation. Now it has visual interfaces in software, too. I know from our in-progress platform survey that most of you don’t own an iPad. (At the moment, I’m with you.) But that makes me doubly hopeful that what we get in music software design in general is a renewed interest in visual culture and interface design. Loopseque is a new, US$4.99 circular-sequencing music app, and it conveys what happens when you really build an interface entirely around touch. It’s also a gorgeous example of why doing a good job of documenting your …