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Blocks | Jonny Martyr – UX / Design / Music
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My final year dissertation project at the University of Sussex involved investigating UI & UX for music, principally around new ways of interacting with electronic music that didn’t require significant learning and allowed people without traditional music training to access their creativity. After initial user research with members of the local music community I developed a Flash (those were the days) application that interfaced via a custom layer with Pure Data, providing a simplified GUI for the underlying synthesis.

Using this interface, users could connect a variety of different types of block together to create chains of synthesis elements, interacting tangibly with them to affect the sound. The concept was partly inspired by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra’s Music Technology Group and their work on the Reactable, which is a large, custom-built table on which users can place and manipulate physical blocks to create chains of sound. My aim was to bring a similar ease of interaction to the digital realm, allowing access to a greater number of users.

The project earned me a first with honours in my degree, and gave me a great foundation in UX for novel interfaces as well as musical programming languages such as Pure Data and Max/MSP.