Author Topic: An Inexpensive Musical Tangible User Interface for Elementary School Education  (Read 935 times)


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I know a sound engineer, doctoral student at UCF, game developer and father also raising two geeks, that is planning an interesting project on Arduino (title in header).
He has no formal micro controller training that I know of so I mentioned Familab, the Arduino courses, and the young makers naturally.

But I also see this as a perfect collaborative project for someone at Familab with existing arduino/microcontroller experience (not to deny him the pleasure of learning micro-controllers of course).

I've embedded his whitepaper abstract with his permission.
 An Inexpensive Musical Tangible User Interface for Elementary School Education Darin E. Hughes
This paper proposes a musical tangible user interface (MTUI) aimed to assist in the learning of musical theory, composition, mathematics, and physics in elementary school education.  While musical TUIs have been in existence for quite some time, many existing examples are designed for individuals with a preexisting understanding of synthesis, employing complex and often confusing interfaces producing abstract compositions and mappings.  Proposed here is a musical interface that mimics traditional sequencers using easy-to-manipulate physical objects across a finite timeline.  Musical notes are abstracted to physical blocks representing both note and duration.  For prototype and testing purposes, a four measure block of time is selected, physically manifested as a grid upon a table, allowing students to place notes from a single octave as eighth, quarter, half, and whole notes in sequence to create original or teacher-guided compositions.  Tempo and instrument-type may be determined by the student as well.  Once a musical pattern has been assembled upon the grid, the student can then play the composition while the note currently playing will illuminate with internal LEDs ? color-coded to reinforce its relative position along the traditional Western scale.  While the length of each block denotes its duration, the height denotes its frequency length (e.g. a C-4 note will be twice as tall as a C-5).
Implementation of this system will utilize an Arduino microcontroller ultimately allowing for a non-PC solution that can be reproduced inexpensively and distributed to academic institutions.  Individual note recognition will be determined using Hall effect sensors ? inexpensive magnetic devices that will notify the system which block has been placed where and for what duration this note should be played.  Early prototype versions will most likely include the use of a PC to trigger appropriate sound banks; however later versions will embed the sound banks into the microcontroller allowing for a plug-and-play system.  The Processing development environment will be used to perform the mappings and control systems, which can later be deployed directly to the Arduino system.


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    • JohnBentCope
I suggested a microcontroller based music education system for a hackerspace build off two years ago but it didn't get much traction. I love this idea. Tell your friend to get in to the lab some time.
I like colors.