Squarely in the “not seen at NAMM” category, the Bubblegum Sequencer uses differently-colored bubble gum balls, arranged in a grid of holes, to create rhythmic patterns. It’s not exactly a leap forward for music — you wind up with a pretty simple drum step sequencer — but it does look like fun. Or it would be, except I’d wind up eating the tangible sequencer. Note to self: make interfaces out of something I won’t devour.

What’s rather interesting here is that the whole system uses computer vision analysis — a camera spots the gum balls by color. One thing that means is that you could skip the grid altogether and apply this to something very different.

The hyper-rational voiceover I find really amusing. Now, just add hard-disk recording next year, and the Bumblegum 5000 could  in fact be at NAMM.

Thanks, Johan!

Updated! Holy crap! Analog Industries has started a blog war:

Peter Kirn got all up in our grill with a bubblegum sequencer over on CDM. Well, Peter. I’ll see your bubblegum sequencer, and raise you one done with Skittles.

“I Eat Beats” Skittle Sequencer


I Eat Beats from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

But, come on, Chris. I enjoy my Skittles now and then, but bubble gum is more delicious, and you can’t blow a bubble with a Skittle.

I have heard that Moog Music is introducing a Candy Sequencer OS (Old School), using salt water taffy. And looking at comments, the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression this year may just turn into a massive rumble / turf war of tangible interfaces. Which is why my tangible interface will be Pop Rocks.

Updated, again! Still more. This time, Evan from thisisnotalabel sees our bubblegum sequencer and raises us a ball bearing sequencer. Careful, though, kids. Those are not edible. Choking hazard!

Still more: it’s a dining table as musical interface, in a sonically-augmented culinary artwork:

  • http://www.myspace.com/ohtravioso Oh Travioso

    Looks like competition for NIME. I'm not worried. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ru10Pcg4rM

  • nelson

    This is a good example of the depressing side of a lot of new interface designs, people come up with pretty inventive ways of capturing data and then just use that data to control a sequencer. Its really uninspiring no matter how many flashing LEDs your tangible has.

  • http://myspace.com/noou (noou)

    oh oh Travioso! En garde! See you at NIME then! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gbAjeLD7MY

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @nelson, I agree there's more potential.

    Granular synthesis, anyone?

    Erm, sorry, guess that'd be granulated sugar synthesis?

  • Mike

    if someone comes up with a controller for the Ableton Live envelopes, i'd be impressed

  • http://airvent-media.co.uk arctic-sunrise

    yeh it can be done with like director or something, you can use a webcam and some software which uses either colour,shape or movememnt as a trigger to send midi date or to trigger sounds etc.

    my friend did something like this ages ago for his piece at college, although he is a lecturer now and his teacher was tomato (underworld vids)

    i still find this fun, but agree you could do some amazing things with it.

  • http://rpi.edu/~mcdonk/ Kyle McDonald

    @nelson: I agree that it's sad when people stop at "the sequencer", which is why I did the webcam + screen thing (which is just reacTABLE with the camera flipped around). I'd rather augment the screen with physical objects than adding more "flashing LEDs" (sometimes the sexiness of LEDs overwhelms the ubiquity and ease of LCDs…). I'd like to explore and prototype some more "sensor"/interface types rather than develop specialized electronics (a la ball bearing sequencer).

    As an aside, I learned about the bubblegum sequencer after developing the skittle sequencer. When I read over their paper, one thing surprised me: hands can interrupt the data. I had a really simple situation to this: if the boundary circle around a "sensor" is even partially obscured, don't trust the data inside the circle. This principle should expand to other "sensor" types (slide sensors, position sensors, etc), but makes it hard to update in real time.

  • http://www.myspace.com/ohtravioso Oh Travioso

    @nelson: My goal with the cubeats, light up cubes I posted above, was to give someone with no ability instant access to making music. And if they have some talent, it should come through. As a result, the step sequencer seems kind of like the quintessential way to make accessible music in a no skill needed kind of fashion.

    However, what's nice about these interfaces is that they are open. There's no reason a new way to interpret the data couldn't be done. For instance, the rods contain many magnets that are levitating. The magnets could be "played" causing them to spring up and down injecting energy into the system and then dynamically dying out. It could be a sort of space age piano or organ.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I should add, I think starting with something basic musically is absolutely essential. That's part of why having the reacTable's library out there is so nifty — that you have people iterating, working on this, making better and better ideas. But, yeah, starting with something overly complicated can keep you from getting to that first step.

  • nelson

    @travioso: I think you're totally right about making things accessible and it's probably one of the most exciting thing about tangible interfaces. I would really like to see more interesting work done with mappings though.

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  • http://www.kylemcdonald.net/ Kyle McDonald

    I Eat Beats update: There's v2, and it's way more advanced. It works as a generic control interface, and uses a polarizing filter on the camera to segment the screen from the markers (skittles): http://vimeo.com/3273927

  • http://www.myspace.com/sgure freekuh geekuh

    thanks Kyle!