Sparkling Instruments

Design and Construction of Digital Music Instruments to Convey Knowledge in Music and STEM School Subjects

The project Sparkling Instruments deals with the playful design and technical development of digital music instruments. Three groups of secondary school students, among them one girls-only group, start with trying out existing instruments and music games. Then the students create playful possibilities to interact with music in a series of workshops with musicians, game designers and music technology experts, and implement them technically in the form of digital music instruments.

A closing public event is organized by the participating school students, where these instruments are presented to the school community and the public. The aim is to bridge the gap between art and technology.

In this highly interdisciplinary context, to improve the understanding of new forms of music making is a goal just as increasing interest in STEM subjects such as computer science and physics, which are involved in the construction of digital musical instruments. A special focus is fostering the interest of girls in STEM subjects.

A conceivable scenario in the project is a group of school students who design and construct a digital flute. Playing the flute is detected by analysing the airflow with a simple temperature and humidity sensor. The locking of the flute’s holes can be tracked by a light sensor. The construction of this flute requires, on the one hand, to understand the basic principles of electronics, which allows students to design the necessary circuits, and, on the other hand, to learn the necessary practical and crafting skills such as soldering. The sounds of the flute are generated by a digital synthesizer. In working with this synthesizer, students deal with digital sound generation and the associated musical parameters. With their finished instrument, they then explore possibilities of musical interaction together with their classmates.