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date: 19 November 2019


  • Anne Beetem Acker


Electronic musical instrument based on a multi-touch table. Created by Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger, and Marcos Alonso at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona beginning in 2003, it was introduced at the 2005 International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona. In 2009, the inventors formed the firm ReacTable Systems to produce the ReacTable in collaboration with the university’s Music Technology Group.

The ReacTable employs a ‘tangible interface’, where the player controls are special discs (‘pucks’) that represent synthesizer modules. When the player places a puck on the table surface, it lights up and immediately interacts with other pucks according to their positions. The surface acts as a screen with graphics that display this interaction and the actual waveforms travelling between the pucks. Pucks can be moved, turned like knobs, and ‘connected’ to other pucks to create synthesizers, effects, sample loops, and other controls. The player can also touch and interact with the display on the table surface, changing the behaviour of the interacting modules, for example by drawing with a fingertip a different waveform, tonal envelope, or rhythmic pattern next to an object. The ReacTable’s 90-cm-diameter multitouch surface supports use by multiple players using both hands and all their fingers. It can be customized to use different sounds and settings, and different predefined compositional ‘scenes’ can be instantly switched even during performance. It offers four main groups of modules: sound generators, sound filters or effects, controllers, and ‘global objects’ that alter global table parameters such as volume, tempo, or harmonic structure. The ReacTable can be used to play specific compositions or for improvisation, or a combination. The pucks and touches are tracked using the vision software ‘reacTIVision’, designed as part of the original research project. The display is generated through a short-throw projector inside the table....

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