Via Music thing (be sure to read the comments, in which they sort out what it actually is), here’s another multi-touch music table built on freely-available tools:

MultiTouch Console

Quite a lot of tools have been connected to make this happen, but they’re all out there so you could do something similar. Let’s see if I can get this right: the software is a collaboration of two projects that resulted in the multi-touch loopArena MTC, for making music interactively. loopArena itself was built in the free, Java-based Processing, originally with MIDI support via the ProMIDI library but now evidently using OpenSoundControl. The graphics library libAVG (“picking up where Director left off”) does the tracking, though there’s also a link to the free multi-touch library Touchlib.

And, long story short, here’s what you get:

YouTube readers sum it up best: “air hockey is cool again” … “this is the real future voodoo.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

More fun than organizing your digital photos in a hotel lobby, huh?

It’s interesting to me, though, that after all this work, you don’t necessarily get a different kind of music — just a different way of making it. And there seem to be two major directions in interface. On one end of the spectrum, there are glitzy, complex interfaces with sophisticated hardware. On the other end, we have increasing interest in minimalism, like the grid of buttons on the Monome, retro-styled software interfaces in trackers on computers and game systems, and, at some point, just a desire to take that KAOSS Pad and MacBook and MIDI keyboard and just practice making music rather than worrying about interface. I actually thing these seemingly divergent threads may all lead back to the same places in the end, and don’t know that they’re even incompatible — but, “ooh, aah” factor aside, it’s fun to watch them spinning themselves out.

If this makes one thing abundantly clear, though, it’s that even though Microsoft has an easier time getting on the Today Show, they by no means have a monopoly on experimenting with these kinds of interfaces.

Got more resources for building your own tools? Diagrams, software libraries, code, blogs about how yours didn’t quite work, blog about how awesome yours is? Let us know!