Welcome to part two of our ongoing exploration of some interesting possibilities created by the motion tracking capabilities of VR, and how this might alter our creative process as video game composers.
In part one we discussed how motion tracking lets us be awesome air guitarists and drummers inside the virtual space. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how the same technology will allow us to make interesting music using more serious tools that are incorporated directly inside the VR environment – musical instruments that exist entirely within the VR ‘machine.’
Our discussion to follow will concentrate on three software applications: Soundscape, Carillon, and Lyra. Later, in the third article of this ongoing series, we’ll take a look at applications that allow our VR user interfaces to harness the power of MIDI to control some of the top music devices and software that we use in our external production studios. But first, let’s look at the ways that VR apps can function as fully-featured musical instruments, all on their own!
Let’s start with something simple – a step sequencer with a sound bank and signal processing tools, built for the mobile virtual reality experience of the Samsung Gear VR.
I got a chance to demo the Samsung Gear VR during the Audio Engineering Society Convention in NYC last year, and while it doesn’t offer the best or most mind-blowing experience in VR (such as what we can experience from products like the famous Oculus Rift), it does achieve a satisfying level of immersion. Plus, it’s great fun! The Soundscape VR app was built for Samsung Gear VR by developer Sander Sneek of the Netherlands. It’s a simple app designed to enable users to create dance loops using three instruments from a built-in electro sound library, a pentatonic step sequencer that enables the user to create rhythm and tone patterns within the loops, and a collection of audio signal processing effects that let the user warp and mold the sounds as the loops progress, adding variety to the performance.