“Musical blocks: physical manipulatives for musical composition” by Wan and Lee

  • ©Elysa Wan and Chia-Hsun Jackie Lee

  • ©Elysa Wan and Chia-Hsun Jackie Lee




    Musical blocks: physical manipulatives for musical composition



     Music is invisible and easily fades into thin air. Giving music a tangible form can capture the sound in a physical manipulative. Musical Blocks is a network of blocks which can be used as a simple interface for composing music in a tangible way. Using a group of wooden building blocks, Musical Blocks allows people to incrementally build a sophisticated melody through constructing the elements. Each block represents a single note like a manipulative piano key, but it is more flexible with and can adjust in pitch and duration. People can pull on the block to make it longer or taller, changing the pitch and duration of the blocks respectively. This is shown in Figures 1 and 2. Playing with toys and composing music are usually different activities. Musical blocks provide a physical way to simulate music. Blocks placed side-by-side will play one after another while blocks played on top of each other will play the two notes at the same time. This way, they build physical structure created by the wooden blocks is transformed into a musical composition.  

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