Last year, we covered Jono Brandel and Lullatone‘s addictive site Patatap, which turns keyboard strokes into sounds and animations. Now they’re are back at it with Typatone, an app that turns text into a lovely little xylophone melody.
Like Patatap, Typatone puts a note to every keystroke, and typing out a message composes a song. Pause for a second and it’ll play the melody back for you. Send in an email, text or tweet, and your recipient will hear the tune of your message while they read. Try it out:
To design the app, Brandel researched which letters in the English language were used most frequently (E, A and O) and least frequently (Q and Z), then Lullatone mapped the letters to different tones. “When Lullatone compose music they have a mental map of different melodies and notes that sound good together,” says Brandel of the Japanese composer duo. So when they paired the notes with letters, “the most frequent letters that occur are melodic [notes] and the least frequent are accent notes—really, really high notes and in between bass notes.”
From there, the team thought about how sound and visuals could mimic and enhance the writing experience. One thing they closely considered was speed–how the process of writing oscillates between being active (typing) and passive (pausing to read what you’ve typed), something that they echoed in the playback function. “Patatap was a novel tool and very upfront about the interaction,” says Brandel. “With Typatone we wanted to keep focus on writing. We wanted to create a nuanced and subtle experience.”
Still, he couldn’t resist adding a few hidden flourishes. Look closely and you’ll notice that the gradient background slowly changes colors with the time, growing darker and deeper as day wears on. The tones change slightly too, though that’s harder to catch without a professional ear.
The final surprise Brandel is more reticent to elaborate on. “If you type a certain phrase, we hardcoded a song that automatically plays,” he says coyly. A hint: it has to do with a certain date. (It’s not Happy Birthday, I checked.)
Give Typatone a go above, or head over to the website for the full experience.