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