Imagine the browser window – on a desktop, a phone, or a tablet – as another canvas for musicians. Hearing Web nerds talk about the latest browser tech may, it may not be immediately clear how that connects to this browser future. But with the addition of features like 3D and network sockets, suddenly you begin seeing dynamic music toys and tools that work without downloading apps.
Google has become part R&D lab, part arts patron, with its Chrome Experiments. In the latest, Giorgio Moroder’s music is the soundtrack to a “race” of abstract, colored geometries as they track between devices.
All you need is some iOS and Android gizmos running Chrome, and you can make it happen.
It looks like this:
Network sockets are where this starts to get interesting. By allowing fast transfer of data, they sync up different gadgets. This could be exactly the sort of tool you need to make music controls and interfaces that work well in browsers. And that, in turn, could be useful even in conjunction with more traditional native tools.
You can try the tool for free just by pointing your mobile Chrome browser at a URL. And Google is also giving away the Giorgio Moroder track, for some pounding, disco-influenced energy, like a nice shot of musical espresso.
The technological ingredients behind the screens:
- HTML5 Canvas: The drawing bits.
- Paper.js: here, doing all the good vector bits for calculating the paths of the racecars quickly. (Vectors are just an easy way of calculating movement mathematics by treating movement intuitively in a direction in space.)
- Web Audio API: This is the stuff we like – real-time audio.
- Google App Engine: The server side, handling the architecture by which the apps connect.
- Web Sockets: Here’s where fans of inter-instrument communication can see some action. While browsers have always connected via http and TCP/IP, that doesn’t work well for fast, multi-way communication (the kind you see in games, and, naturally, in networked musical instruments). Web Sockets hold promise for protocols like USB, MIDI, or even just ultra-lightweight, simple network protocols. (Pd uses something lovely and almost silly-stupid-simple called FUDI. Don’t Google that unless you want lots of pictures of butts, as it’s apparently an endearing word for your derriere in Swiss German.)
Everything is here. A behind-the-scenes video is forthcoming; we’ll share when it’s up.
Via the always-awesome Shocklee blog.
In which I break Betteridge’s law of headlines, as, plainly, the answer is yes. Well, until we get a custom sports car designed by Morton Subotnick, in which case – it’s on.