Deprecated: strpos(): Non-string needles will be interpreted as strings in the future. Use an explicit chr() call to preserve the current behavior in /home/researc6/public_html/ on line 31

The Sound of Colour

June 8, 2017
Mark Lochrie

Notice: Undefined index: google-plus in /home/researc6/public_html/ on line 307

We are currently moving away from traditional musical instruments with the advances of gestural, touch based devices from creators like Roli. They focus their products around playful interactions with colourful interfaces and feedbacks. As Roli look to the future of musical instruments, they are exploring how music creating access is open to all. However, these playful and colourful interfaces have been around for years, notably from Oskar Fischinger, a visual music animator. His work featured colourful geometric shapes accompanied to music and as a nod to his legacy, Google celebrated his 112th birthday with their ever changing ‘Google Doodle‘. The doodle allows people to create their own visual music composition by clicking around the screen placing notes from four different instruments, formed as a sequencer and played on a continuous loop.

“Music is not limited to the world of sound. There exists a music of the visual world”

The interface best exemplifies his work over the years with the inclusion of geometric shapes and animation. Google (the designers of the interface) are also working on other sound based activities for web based interfaces in their musiclab. This has spurred work on from our latest PhD student Jack Davenport who is looking at the design of meaningful sound based interfaces that focusses around creative play. As one of his first pieces of work, Jack will explore creative confidence when using a variety of these new musical interfaces from Roli blocks to push controllers such as Ableton push and developing his own collaborative musical interface (the Sound of Colour).

Jack’s first attempt came in the form of a musical ball table, the idea was based around the popular children’s activity of ball bits. Balls pits are usually seen in children indoor play areas, where you see a hive of activity of children; climbing, sliding and swinging, usually ending up falling down into a pit of balls. Jack has taken inspiration from this and other activities such as snooker and lawn bowls, and created a playful musical interface that creates calm, generative music. Calmness is achieved in both the play and musical sounds, players who aren’t familiar with a musical notes and the playing of instruments need not worry as no wrong note can be played in the SoC.


This project was recently published at CHI PLAY 17, where Jack presented the work as a poster.

Jack is currently working alongside other members of the Media Innovation Studio team to develop a second version of the Sound Of Colour, which he hopes to use in projects in the near future.

You don't have to share, but we would be happy if you did 😉