The indie video game Minecraft has gotten popular — like, “oxygen” popular, in some circles, with over seven million copies sold. Now, a similar interface has spread into the realm of HTML5 music apps — in this case, for the Google Chrome web browser.
ToneCraft from Dinahmoe, an “integrated music and sound production house,” takes the matrix sequencer concept (see also: ToneMatrix) and expands it one dimension further, taking several cues from the popular game that inspired its name. The result is a cool, 3D loop-building environment sure to please any Lego maniac — so long as they use Google Chrome, because this is a Chrome app.
Each block (or “voxel”) you place on the grid represents a note. Different colors represent different instruments. The X and Y-axis represent time and pitch, respectively, while the Z-axis lets you stack instruments vertically to create a layered sound. The sweeping time line/cursor thing cycles over your masterpiece continuously, turning your blocks into boops and beeps. By placing and stacking colored blocks you can “craft” a wide variety of slick electronic beats with fairly little effort, with which to amaze your online friends and enemies.
We found the app to produce some fairly impressive sounds — and no matter how many blocks you decide to place, it manages to not sound cluttered, allowing you to get fairly creative with these building blocks. Since this is a “Chrome experiment,” in the words of Dinahmoe, the app can get a little buggy. For example, rotating the camera in three dimensions takes way longer than it should, and the blocks can sometimes produce odd visual glitches.
Still, if you have the imagination, this app can keep you entertained for a while. Tonecraft is available for free in the Chrome Web App Store. This video demonstrates some of the possibilities: