Musicians have long made pictures to represent musical ideas, share those ideas, and allow others to participate. Before computers, we created scores. Now, we can create interfaces, too. Of course, just because you’re using a digital interface doesn’t mean the pencil as prototyping tool has to go anywhere. It’s the quickest way to sketch out an idea. And if your hand is steady, it just might become a lovely, personal interface.

OtoBlock by Tsubasa Naruse is a hand-drawn music sequencer. The basic interface is nothing new, dropping blocks into sequence to make sounds, but the charm is the rough edges on the pencil-made buttons, and the whimsical hand-drawn characters that live on them.

OtoBlock @ iTunes
Tsubasa Naruse website, in Japanese, but don’t miss the other adorable sketches
Via Matrixsynth, by way of Palm Sounds

Here is a 2009 experiment in “sonic interaction” by the same artist, also exploring
some of these ideas. (link) I’m not sure I could even describe it, but the relationship of minimal electronic sounds to handmade animation is utterly irresistible.

So, with mobile music tools like iPhones and portable amps from the likes of Roland and KORG, can you actually go out and make music in a subway? I recall people mocking an old M-Audio ad in which someone was doing laptop production on the subway platform. But when it comes to mobile busking, the same videographer who shot the hands-on video at top also captures an impromptu TB-303 jam in the Tokyo subway. (Apparently, this young woman did not inspire love from the police. Sadly, the app she’s using is entangled in some sort of contract issues.)

More great iOS videos on perfumepod’s channel; it’s a great way to explore different user interfaces:

And yes, I’ve been tipped off to “Tokyo Techno Girl” before; I have to find out more about her.