A Vision Of The Future Of Music – A Walkthrough Of Subcycle

In this video, developer Christian Bannister offers a walkthrough of his Subcycle project., a multi-touch controller that explores alternative ways of visualizing and controlling electronic music.

In the video, Bannister covers:

  • creating percussive patterns with monome
  • shaping the individual sounds that make up the patterns with multitouch gestures
  • recording touchscreen gestures as automation
  • storing, duplicating and navigation patterns
  • recording the resulting audio to a dynamic buffer
  • manipulating the buffer with a multitouch cut-up approach
  • visualizing everything with dual screens

The project is built around Max For Live, Processing & Java.

Other details:

For the drum sounds I have Drumaxx running for synthesized sounds and Battery running for sampled sounds. These running in parallel so for each voice these is a separate patch running in each.

The Parameters are modified with the touchscreen independently but in all cases a single touch gesture on the X-Axis will cross fade between the sampled version of the sound and he synthesized version of the sound. I love this because I can never decide which technique I like better and the synthesized drums have more interesting parameters to play with.

Bannister is treating the multitouch screen as a tabula rasa. You don’t see any virtual drum machines or software recreations of the Minimoog in Subcycle.

This is a bit disorienting and is less immediately accessible than interfaces based on established paradigms. But Bannister’s approach is fascinating, because he’s not using the multitouch screen to create an imitation of traditional hardware control of sound. Instead he’s looking for new ways of controlling sound that make sense in a world of multitouch hardware.

Check out the Subcycle controller demo and let us know what you think of it!

You can follow the development of Subcycle at Bannister’s site, and see our previous posts on the Subcycle project for more info.

8 thoughts on “A Vision Of The Future Of Music – A Walkthrough Of Subcycle

  1. I see… so the “future of music” is tweaky sound design… Amazing software aside, I’m glad I play an instrument that I can just pick up and speak through.

  2. Looks great and would be great as a performance tool. I’m not convinced about it’s merits as a user interface though. There are only a couple of things that actually improve user feedback, the rest is just very pretty eye candy.

  3. I’m trying to be excited for some of these touch based highly abstract music creation and manipulation tools, but I think it’s a lot of gilding the lily. I’m not sure it makes anything easier or even more fun than traditional DAWs.

  4. A problem with this is that the paradigm isn’t intuitively obvious. You need to learn Bannister’s method of representing sound visually.

    I’m also thinking that undeniably cool/rich/beautiful music in these demos (instead of various bleeps and blurps) would indicate that the designer is really on to something.

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