A music score is, in essence, a way of making space into time: traversing notation from left to right and top to bottom, you move through a series of events. So, why not make that spatial map an actual map, as in the familiar, isometric interactive cityscape popularized by Will Wright’s classic game Sim City?

Isle of Tune does just that: lay out trees, houses, and city streets, and you sequence musical patterns as virtual islands. It’s available right now on the Web, powered by Flash – Chrome users can even get a one-click install via the Chrome Web Store. If you prefer to use a phone or tablet, mobile versions are coming, too, beginning with an imminent iPad release, seen in a video below.

Isle of Tune must have hit a nerve in this surreal pairing of imaginary landscapes and simple sequenced songs, because the YouTube nation has responded en masse.

I spoke to developer Jim Hall, who gives CDM the latest update and some background on himself:

A little bit about me: I’ve worked as an animator, flash developer and art director over the last 10 years in London, UK – mainly for digital ad agencies (some previous work here: www.happylander.co.uk). Around about June last year I pretty much quit advertising work (before my soul was lost completely in the desolate mire of micro-sites and adver-games!) and took some time out to make stuff for myself – mainly based around music and playful interaction.

Isle of Tune came from a desire to make a different kind of music sequencer along the lines of http://lab.andre-michelle.com/tonematrix or the Reactable – but with less of an abstract feel and a little more game-like and social. Since it went live in December there has been over 60,000 islands made
with some properly creative tunes in there eg. http://isleoftune.com/?id=63320 or http://isleoftune.com/?id=48359

Over the last few months I’ve been making updates from user requests – mainly to the way you can browse, search and view rated islands, it seems a lot of visitors come by just to check out the islands other people have made!

I’m currently working with a talented chap – Stuart Middleton – a developer since the days of the Spectrum (and now runs a small app dev company at www.abstractalien.com) who is converting the Isle of Tune codefor various mobile platforms and also helping me take it beyond what I could online with the limitations of flash. My far-fetched dream with the app is to be able to fund further development and allow me to make more stuff like this in the future without having to go back to the world of advertising!

For those of you with iPads, Jim says you should be able to look forward to the iOS release some time around mid-May if all goes to plan.

But for anyone, you can use this right now with Flash:
http://isleoftune.com/

And yes, even Requiem for a Dream gets the Island of Tune treatment. Hmmmm… this island seems a bit too sunny and cheery, no? Maybe the title needs a dreary, overcast Coney Island mode.

  • danny s

    beautiful.  reminds me of this splendid ol' chemical bros video (isle of tune instead giving an outside-looking-in approach):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S43IwBF0uM&hd

  • Stij

    Ha, before I even clicked on that I knew it was gonna be the Star Guitar video. Probably my favorite Gondry music video.

    And yeah, that reminds me of this game a lot.

  • http://technobleep.com/ Del

    this was a great read! will look forward to using this :-)

  • http://www.jeremyabel.com Jeremy Abel

    Good to see a fellow interactive designer doing cool personal projects! Now I feel like I need to take some time off and make cool stuff for myself :P

  • http://www.myspace.com/keatshandwriting Keats' Handwrit

    I love it.  Showed it to the gf and she even liked it to.  I'd like to have a collaborative option though– allow the option to let creators of 'shared' islands to allow other users to edited the islands.  I'd like to do some remixes of others' work.