As I am sitting here in the hotel room with my wife and kid asleep, I start to ponder a tactile sequencer/music device. A few months ago we went to Wisconsin and there was a kids museum thing that we went to. It had a spaceship that kids could sit inside and tweak knobs and press buttons to alter the dynamic music that was playing inside. Since then I have been trying to ponder something a little more practical, scalable and more importantly, bridging electronic and physical musical instruments. I think it’s important to show kids how sounds are made, and that they are more than just waves of air coming from a speaker.
Basic concept as follows:
- 12 step sequence arrangement, the sequencing is controlled by a box with a big turning handle on it, and a row of 12 leds. As you turn the handle (I’m thinking Charlie and the chocolate factory here) the sequence speeds up or slows down. This box would have a bunch of sockets on it to plug in each instrument sequence. It would also plug in to the wall, or battery pack or something.
- Boolean sequence (need better name). This would be a box with 12 switches or push buttons in a row, each would also have an led. This would plug in to the sequence knob box thing, and have a physical instrument attached at the other end. For instance, a drum, with a servo controlled stick. As the sequence progresses you can enable the drum at any of the 12 steps, sequence hits that step, the servo then hits the stick on the drum.
- Knob sequence (innuendo aside) same principals as above, except each step can have an analog pitch assigned to it too. This may control a fret position servo on a string, or a servo controlled trombone style whistle. If the value of the knob is above a threshold, the step will be played at the desired pitch.
Taking those 2 concepts, you can evolve quite a few interesting instruments. Taking as many of those instruments as you wish, plugging them in to the sequence controller, you can now do some pretty cool music.
This is now the time I need to convince my wife that we need to purchase a 3d printer :)