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The Flicker Blog and Podcast

Subscribing to the podcast will keep you up to date with all of the new Flicker material as it gets released.The blog itself will contain all manner of things about music and user-experience design.

Archive for April, 2007

links for 2007-04-26

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Reactable – an electro-acoustic music instrument with a tangible user interface

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007


I have to admit to being completely blown away by this video. It presents several very complex interactions in a manner that’s both innovative and intuitive. Seeing synthesis approached like this underscores for me how poorly suited to the task, the interfaces of most virtual instruments are (Check the images of Reason for an example of what I mean). I’m sorry that I cannot link directly to the images – some people still insist on using frames on their sites!

Analogue synths of the 70′s and 80′s were restricted by the physical limitations of the components used to manipulate and program them. User feedback was predominately conducted via your ears, with the legending on knobs and sliders the only visual clue to what was happening inside the box.

I just don’t understand why companies resort to Pixel based renditions of retro analogue gear when designing virtual instruments. The video here shows what could be accomplished if only designers would move away from fetishistic renditions of retro hardware and embrace the possibilites afforfed by the platform they’re creating for.

In the world of hardware, physical limitations mean that you cannot dynamically represent the impact that parameters have upon one another. In the virtual world, these restrictions don’t exist, yet such limitations seem to be eagerly embraced.

Here’s what the Reactable creators have to say about their video:
‘Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving physical artefacts on the table surface and constructing different audio topologies in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language.’

You can read more on the reactable website.

links for 2007-04-23

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

links for 2007-04-18

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

The role of sampling in music

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

I’ve just been sent this link, containing a bunch of samples used by Daft Punk on their last album Discovery.

I should start by saying that personally, I’ve never liked the idea of sampling stuff in our releases, and take pride in the fact that every sound originated with us. Samplers are an amazing tool, and offer a huge range of creative possibilities when used imaginatively. We use them all the time to sample and manipulate sounds – not riffs.

Call me a snob, but out and out lifting of the hook of a track, with minimal extra input is not terribly clever or imaginative. Make your own mind up about the examples given here, but I was stunned. Completely.

links for 2007-04-01

Sunday, April 1st, 2007