Welcome to Week 8! Back in Week 4: Making Music and Sounds, we wanted people to take the first (whole) step into making music by using everyday sounds – but we have so much more to show you! Some of the things that we wanted to squeeze into Week 4 are now here in Week 8 – a little bit of physics, basic music theory, and a few advanced instrument builds. Plus, we have even more interviews including some Q&A with MIT experts and community artists!
This week, we want you to consider the following four topic areas:
Seeing Sound – Explore some math and physics ideas that describe the sounds we hear.
Turning Sound into Music – Learn some basics about music theory, the language that most music is built upon.
Amazing Instruments – Check out some surprising musical instruments to inspire your next musical experiment.
Advanced Instruments Builds – Ready to build or invent some more complex instruments? Check out our Amazing Instruments playlist for inspiration.
Again, we can’t wait to see what you build, and we encourage you to share all and any of it on this week’s forums and online using the #MITFullSTEAM hashtag!
Make sure you scroll to the bottom for additional activities.
Expert Spotlight: Matt Schumaker, MIT Visiting Scholar
Composer and electronic musician Matt Schumaker talks about partials and shows how electronic musicians can put together simple, artificial sound waves to recreate the complex sound waves of traditional instruments. Crank up the volume at the end to hear a composition that uses the same trick with acoustic instruments. Matt is a Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar at MIT.
In this list, you’ll see videos about the waves that music is made of, and start to see exactly how instruments vibrate. Can you spot the video that was recorded at the MIT Edgerton Center?
|Laser Can Sound Viewer|
|Make a simple sound viewer with a laser pointer, a can, and a balloon!|
Turning Sounds Into Music
Explore some of the basic language musicians use to describe musical creations. How do notes come together to make music? How does rhythm work? What is a scale? Learn about the basics of Western music theory, and try it out yourself with the resources below!
|Chrome Music Lab|
|Try a few simple tools that let you build simple musical loops, distort your voice, and more!|
|Music Blocks is designed for learners to explore the fundamental concepts of music using a block-based visual-coding environment.|
|Infinite Drum Machine|
|Build unique beats from a library of crazy sound samples.|
|Use an online drum machine to create downloadable beats.|
|Free Online Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)|
Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) are used for recording and editing songs and are great for collaborating with friends from a distance!
Expert Spotlight: Amber Tortorelli, Theremin Player
Artist Amber Tortorelli from Worcester, MA demonstrates the strange, beautiful music of the theremin and talks about a few of the electronic tools she uses to build her library of sound. You can watch some of the classic Clara Rockmore performances Amber mentioned here. You can also hear more of Amber’s theremin playing with her band, Sapling. (Language alert: The punk rock music of Sapling contains occasional swear words.)
Expert Spotlight: Ramin Yazdanpanah, Didgeridoo Player
Ramin Yazdanpanah makes and plays Australian Aboriginal style didgeridoos out of wood and recycled materials. Adam Santone shows how to use didgeridoos to make science-based art. Learn more about the Didgeridata project here, and listen to more from Ramin’s band, the Maharajah Flamenco Trio!
Gallery of Amazing Instruments
Watch and listen to crazy new inventions and surprising traditional instruments from all over the world!
In Week 4, you might have built a simple musical contraption. Are you ready for something more challenging? Check out the playlist and resources below – while you can accomplish some of these with stuff around the house, others will require supplies from an electronics or hardware store. Because these projects are a little more advanced, we recommend them for grades 6 and up, but adults might have fun trying them with a K – 5 helper.
Printable Guide Materials:
|Build a guitar from a box and some string. You’ll be shredding in no time!|
|Learn the physics of sound and musical pipes while building|
your own copper pipe musical instrument!
|If you liked the theremin from the “Amazing Instruments” tab, make a smaller one that is controlled by a photoresistor! You can either build from scratch on a breadboard or solder together parts from a kit like this one.|
|Piezo Contact Microphone|
Hook up any vibrating object to an amplifier, and turn up the noise!
A practical guide and some cultural context about the didgeridoo from the MIT Didgeridata project
|Paixiao (Chinese Pan Flute)|
A practical guide and some cultural context about the paixiao from the MIT Didgeridata project