Google Arts & Culture presents AR Synth a collection of 5 classic music machines scanned into an AR environment for you to play with in your browser.
They say it’s an interactive experiment powered by augmented reality and generated from scans of synths in the Swiss Museum of Electronic Music Instruments (SMEM). Then, if you have an Android-powered phone or tablet you can place these synths into your surroundings and get playing. For the rest of us with iOS or running on a desktop, there’s a 3D version that will run in your browser as with my screenshots here.
The synths in question are a Moog Memorymoog, ARP Odyssey, CMI Fairlight, Roland CR-78 and Akai S900 sampler. They are all rendered to near perfection and feature a pattern-based sequencer. Although all the controls are there you only get to play with one parameter. With the Moog it’s the oscillator spread, with the ARP it’s the filter cutoff and the drum machine controls the tempo. You can draw on the screen of the Fairlight and load different samples on the Akai. It’s basic but brilliant!
Each synth gets an information panel telling you about it and you can load up as many as you want. Each sequencer has a randomise button or you can enter notes with your mouse, or, presumably, your fingers.
You need to go and try it right now and tell me how great the Android version is because I’d really like to know. Launch it here.
Music, Makers and Machines
Along with this marvellous bit of AR wizardry is a whole exhibition covering the history, movers and shakers behind electronic music. It’s an interactive multi-media extravaganza and compulsive viewing for anyone interested in how all these machines came into being.
They have interviews, musical numbers, historical articles and even 3D models of a whole range of synths. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface – hey, there are lesson plans for teachers! This is an awesome resource, go and spend some time with it.