Creative musical interfaces are always a pleasure to find. This one was circulating around twitter this week and really caught our attention. This is the Abacusynth, by Elias Jarzombek.
This interesting interface is a musical device that was inspired by how people interact with an abacus. By presenting an easy to understand physical interface, this device allows people who may not have a particularly strong musical skill to play around and have fun creating sound.
…most synths cater to the “Big C” creator, the professional or virtuoso who requires granular control in order to achieve their goal, and who is either willing or required to learn complex interfaces in order to do so.
My target user is a “little C” creator, someone who is being creative just for the fun of it, and is more interested in feeling good while creating, instead of being focused on the outcome. This type of engagement is just as creative as “Big C”, but is not studied or considered as much when talking about design.
– Elias Jarzombek
The idea isn’t necessarily to play this device as a means of creating a whole song. Rather, this interface allows you to explore changes in various qualities of the sound that make it feel unique. Think of it like this, you can play the same note on a piano, a violin, and an electric guitar, but they sound totally different. The Abacasynth allows you to explore those differences with a tangible interface that requires no knowledge of music. Fun, right?
You can read all about the different parts of the construction on Elias’s website. If you really want to play with the concept, you don’t necessarily have to build one, Elias has released a free plugin for Ableton Live that allow you to tinker a bit.