This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1997 and reprinted in the November/December 2015 issue.
The InterAct System is based on a design initially created by Makhidkarun, but released throughout the Imperium as a standard. Many entertainment systems are fleshed out with this option, and Makhidkarun’s software and hardware is of the absolute highest quality. Systems of varying quality can be purchased from other corporations, but true fans of “kaadmukim” (a Vilani word roughly translated as “interactive music”) swear by Makhidkarun’s extremely high quality InterAct units.
Kaadmukim becomes possible around the time that houses, businesses and spacecraft become “wired”, with either one central computer, or several dedicated control systems. In a wired household, room temperatures are adjusted to a (usually pre-set) comfortable level when the room is inhabited, lights go on when someone is about to enter a darkened room, and go off a few moments after a room is left unoccupied. Many household items are wired, so that they can be found easily should they become lost or misplaced. Doors can be automatically closed or locked, depending on the pre-sets, outside lights can be turned on when it is dark, an outside pool can be heated from the living room couch, if such a thing is desired. Basically, the house is ‘smart’ and does a number of minor chores as needed, and can be interfaced with any number of specially made devices and robots. The above examples only scratch the surface of what is possible in ‘smart’ or ‘wired’ homes.
The InterAct Music System takes this concept to another level. Speakers are placed around the house for optimum listening enjoyment in much the same way as they are placed for more traditional entertainment systems, and all of the signals that go to and from the house’s computer are turned into ‘music’. Pre-recorded sound and music tracks are recorded onto a kaadmukim cube, and are played according to the digital signals that pump through the household. Depending on the kaadmukim band’s (or performer’s) skill, the effects can be amazing. The cube is never heard the same way twice. The tracks are played in fashion that is apparently random, although is based on events that the house computer is processing at the time. As wired items are moved through the house, seats are sat in, and appliances are used, the music will shift and change according to the original band or performer’s desires. Kaadmukim writing is an intense discipline in and of itself, because the performer has to surrender much of the control and order to the ‘chaotic’ demeanor of a modern household. The basic effect of many kaadmukim cubes is that of a movie soundtrack, or piece of classical music. Themes are repeated in variations, all aspects of the music are changed by the literally countless tasks the house computer is performing, while underlying elements stay the same. Some fans of the medium prefer performers who forego any attempt of masking the randomness with order, and enjoy the chaotic sound of what has come to be known as “gushiimukim” (roughly translated as “music from chaos”), the random patterns of a household are transformed into sounds and snippets that are, in and of themselves, random. The effect can be very fascinating, but can also be very disconcerting and sometimes frightening as well.
Kaadmukim of all forms is a very popular medium, especially at parties and get togethers. An “asha kaadmukim” (roughly translated as DJ, or disc jockey in crude 20th century English) will usually have a special deck with the ability to hold more then one kaadmukim cube at a time and with the ability to mix them and change them as desired. A highly skilled “asha kaadmukim” will be able to “smack the cubes” (manipulate a deck) with an ability and efficiency that can be downright awe-inspiring. A popular dance scene, with a huge number of off-shoots and mutations, has sprung up. One such offshoot, similar to 20th century rap, has performers improvising rhymes over top of the ever changing music. No matter what, the way that a master “asha kaadmukim” can move a crowd should not be underestimated.
In the first century of the Third Imperium trade normalized to the point that a high-tech standard of living was possible more or less everywhere. Kaadmukim systems became available nearly everywhere. As now, these units were very popular in dance clubs, as they created a unique experience for a crowd, and experience of oneness that cannot be recreated any other way. It was common for an asha kaadmukim to pick cubes in which the beat would speed up based on the heat of the room or venue that the system was installed in. This is where, at least according to popular legend, the term ‘heat up the beat’ came from. This practice, however, turned out to be somewhat dangerous to the dancers, and heat exhaustion became very common. Some world, subsector, and sector governments made this practice illegal. In most areas of the Imperium, ‘heat up the beat’ has a meaning similar to ‘get down’, ‘rock on’, or ‘let’s boogie!’. However, in some areas it has a shadier connotation: to ‘heat up the beat’ suggests undertaking a deal or action that is either somehow illegal or not completely on the up-and-up.
Tech Notes: InterAct/Kaadmukim systems vary in quality and can be purchased for between Cr500 and Cr5000. This is for the system alone, and supporting hardware, such as speakers, must be purchased separately. Tech levels for availability also vary, and due to standardized ‘smart home’ hardware can be manufactured on worlds with a technology level of 9 or better. Systems for asha kaadmukim use will be on the upper end of the scale, generally sold for for Cr3000 to Cr6000. They are large and bulky, and are made to be installed in various locations. They are in no way comfortably portable, although asha kaadmukim units can be easily transported. A number of attempts to create lower-quality portable units have been tried, relying on digital information gathered from a world’s commnet and through sensor equipment built into the system. Most such attempts have failed for the marketers, as it seems enough data for a truly engrossing experience can’t be gathered easily. These devices are available and supported in some areas of the Imperium though. InterAct datacubes can be purchased for between Cr20 and Cr100 new, or Cr5 and Cr30 used. The cubes are extremely durable, and due to the great length of time these units have been in existence, there is a vast collectors’ market.