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The reacTable: Exploring the Synergy between Live Music Performance and Tabletop Tangible Interfaces
Sergi Jordà, Günter Geiger, Marcos Alonso, Martin Kaltenbrunner Music Technology Group, Pompeu Fabra University Ocata, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain {sjorda, ggeiger, malonso, mkalten}

In recent years we have seen a proliferation of musical tables. Believing that this is notjust the result of a tabletop trend, in this paper we first discuss several of the reasons for which live music performance and HCI in general, and musical instruments and tabletop interfaces in particular, can lead to a fertile two-way cross-pollination that can equally benefit both fields. After that, we present the reacTable, a musical instrument based on a tabletop interface that exemplifiesseveral of these potential achievements.
Author Keywords

developing for the last three years, built upon some of the principles exposed on the first part.

Tangible interfaces, tabletop interfaces, musical instrument, musical performance, design, interaction techniques.
ACMClassification Keywords

Early and definite examples of the synergy between music and HCI can be found in the research and contributions undertaken by William Buxton during the 1970s and 1980s; it was in fact, the design and use of computer-based tools for music composition and performance, which led Buxton into the area of HCI [5]. Buxton has even ironized that there are three levels of design: standardspec., military spec., and musical or artist spec, being the third the hardest and most important [6]. From the musical side, several computer music researchers have studied the control of sound in musical instruments as well as aspects of the communication between players and their instruments. Pressing [29] studies and compares the sound control issues of a violin and a standard MIDI keyboardusing no less than ten dimensions. Vertegaal and Eaglestone [37] evaluate timbre navigation using different input devices. Wanderley proposes a basic gesture taxonomy evaluating how such gestures relate to different sound control tasks, and approaches the evaluation of input devices for musical expression by drawing parallels to existing research in the field of HCI [38]. Great effort has thus beendevoted into bringing general Engineering Psychology [10, 11] and HCI knowledge and research into the domain of sound control.
Musical Performance Bandwidth

H.5.2 [User Interfaces]: interaction styles, input devices and strategies J.5: [Arts and Humanities]: performing arts.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of tabletop tangible musical interfaces. This trendstarted with the millennium with projects such as the Audiopad [26,27], Jam-o-drum [4] or SmallFish [33], but nowadays so many “musical tables” are being produced that it becomes difficult to keep track of every new proposal [22]. Is this just a coincidence or the result of a tabletop vogue? While arguably, not all the currently existing prototypes may present the same level of achievement or coherence,we believe that there are important reasons, perhaps often more intuited than stated, that turn live music performance and human computer interaction (HCI) in general, and musical instruments and tabletop tangible interfaces in particular, into promising and exiting fields of multidisciplinary research and experimentation. In this paper we show that these binomials depict a fertile two-waycross-pollination situation that can equally benefit both fields. We begin by exposing the main reasons that turn live music performance into an ideal test-bed for advanced HCI, and then analyze the potential of tabletop tangible interfaces as new musical instruments. In the second part of the paper we present the reacTable, an ambitious tabletop musical instrument we have been

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