A Music-Making Interface That Riffs On The Rubik’s Cube

The MusixCube poses the question: What if composing music were as simple as failing to solve the puzzle?

For most of the history of musical instruments, form followed function. Be it a trumpet or a tambourine, the objects themselves were shaped first and foremost to create a certain quality of sound. But in the MIDI era, when digital samples can reproduce the sound of any instrument at the press of a button, there’s no reason to stay so traditional. Yet there’s got to be a better alternative to sitting at a QWERTY keyboard with a few extra knobs.

MusixCube is a fantastic illustration of this point. A conceptual thesis project by Hauke Scholz, the MusixCube, as you may have guessed, is a riff on the Rubik’s Cube. But rather than unraveling the puzzle, tapping and twisting its surfaces takes you down a strange, fun path of musical creation.

“I always thought there has to be a possibility of getting away from knobs and the mouse,” Scholz tells Co.Design. “I wanted to give producing a social aspect. Like when someone is playing a guitar, it is obvious where the sounds come from.”

Think of MusixCube as an interesting variation on the remote control. It wirelessly syncs with music production software, allowing you to compose from a couch. When you first touch the cube, its primary layer is the group (your instrumentation options), then you turn it to find samples (your basic beats). By flipping the cube again and again, you can add more layers of sound (reaching a maximum of five). And by shaking, hitting, or twisting the device, you do things like add effects or access the options. As the mix grows more complex, the once-dark cube becomes a glittering show of light and color.

Is it the most efficient system possible to create music? Certainly not, but that was never Scholz’s intent. In getting producers away from their PCs, Scholz wants to remove the influence of the grids and timelines found in most production software. “It’s more feeling the music than generating and arranging it,” he explains. (Though notably, the mix can always be fine-tuned later at a computer.)

As of today, MusixCube is a series of two prototypes, each containing some of the ideal final product’s core functionality. Scholz recognizes that building the complete MusixCube would be a “great challenge,” but with the right engineering and creative team, he’d like to make that happen.

[Hat tip: Yanko Design]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.