The reacTable’s developers say it is the latest in an emerging wave of “tangible music interfaces,” but to the touring musicians who play the thing, it’s merely “cool.”
“Established instruments like the Moog, the turntable and the laptop are really powerful, but they do not provide the necessary control over the complex sound generation in the background,” said Martin Kaltenbrunner, one of the four-man team that created the reacTable.
“This is where tangible interfaces or multi-touch surfaces promise some new possibilities. We are interested in creating new electronic musical instruments which are more powerful for the musicians and allow the manipulation of the many possible parameters of synthetic sounds at any point.”
Here’s a video of Björk performing with the reacTable at The Glastonbury Festival:
Björk explains the appeal of the reacTable:
“When I first got it, I thought, ‘Why don’t I just make a funny noise on the Moog?'” said Damian Taylor, a Grammy-nominated producer who engineered Björk’s latest album, Volta, and who plays the reacTable onstage with the Icelander.
“But, as soon as you start to use it, there’s really no comparison — it’s a completely different animal. They designed it so you draw your finger across the board, but I just wound up picking stuff up and banging it on the table and playing it more like rock ‘n’ roll power chords. We had to replace the bottoms of each of the blocks because I was wearing away the patterns.”