Orphion: a new tablet app that lets you make music with venn diagrams

Jazz saxophonist Bastus Trump has come up with an innovative way of making music on a tablet computer.

He has created an app for the iPad called Orphion which is, in effect, its own musical instrument using virtual circles that create unique sounds.

Developed as part of his Masters thesis at the University of Arts Berlin, the app allows users to perform expressive and virtuosic playing and it can be played by people of all levels and experiences.

For starters, the app can have as few as five ‘pads’, giving you just five notes to play with.

Sounds are made by tapping the glass to create a plucking sound like a stringed instrument, but the harder you tap the flatter the sound, transforming into the sound of a drum.

A gentle circular touch on the glass produces a much softer sound and you can modulate the pitch by moving away from the centre of the circular pads.

With just these tips, beginners can easily produce a few notes with ease. However, more advanced users can access a variety of pad layouts that include semitones, minor thirds, as well as fourths, fifths and a two-octave chromatic scale, all on different axis.

Styles, meanwhile, range from a blues scale to bass drums and piano, although the Orphion’s sound remains a cross between stringed and percussion.

Reviews for the device have been good, although there is the hope that a MIDI version is released to allow for more realistic instrument sounds.

Orphion joins a plethora of smartphone and tablet apps that promise a new age in casual music-making technology; a continuation of a lineage set down from turntables, to samplers, sequencers, synths and beyond!

Do you use apps to make or play with music? What do you think of technology like tablet computers being used to write songs and record new tracks? Can technology get in the way of playing, making and enjoying music?

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