Learning to make music should be fun. It should also be easy. Traditional instruments like guitar and piano can be tough for youngsters, but composing and performing on the Musicon is as simple as pushing a button. Well, maybe more than one. The huge wooden sound lab works a bit like a barrel organ, where raised pegs cause an instrument to sound when they hit key levers.
Initially developed by Kamil Laszuk as a graduation thesis project in 2011, the Musicon project was followed by months of prototyping. Now the inventor and his 25-strong team of musicians, designers, engineers and child specialists reckon that the machine is ready for serial production, and will be seeking crowdfund support in the coming weeks to bring his idea to life.
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The sound, physics and mechanics lab is made primarily from wood, reported safe to use for children aged 2 and up and has been designed to unlock a child's creativity while helping to develop motor and computational skills. Central to the Musicon is its barrel, which is home to 720 buttons that pop up when pressed.
In essence, the Musicon is programmed in a similar way to Martin Molin's Musical Marble Machine. When a raised button comes into contact with a lever of one of the three instruments attached to the frame with magnets, a sound is produced – and the output is all analog, no digital processing or amplification required. The current gaggle of instruments is made up of a xylophone, a drum and a percussive mill, but more extensions are planned for the future.
Teeny tunesmith coders can compose and perform musical pieces simultaneously, and hear what geometric button creations, or dot-to-dot "drawings" and other patterns, sound like. The instrument isn't necessary a single player machine, and could assist in bringing shy kids out of their shells through cooperation and teamwork activities.
The barrel can be pushed back and forth manually, or a lever at the side used to engage a mains-powered mechanism to turn the drum, which rotates faster as the lever is pushed forward, topping out at 144 bpm. The mechanism has been designed in such a way that kids can safely stop auto-rotate at any time without being dragged through the laundry wringer, so to speak. A two line LCD display on the right side offers operational info such as beats per minute.
The Musicon project will launch on Kickstarter next week to fund production. Pledges are expected to start at US$2,500, likely making it more suitable for day care or school installation than home use. Have a look at the demonstration video below for a taste of what's on offer.
Source: Musicon Club