Ever hear someone say, ‘I don’t have a musical bone in my body’? Well as it turns out, you might. Designer Pietr-Jan Pietr believes that anyone can make music simply by moving their finger or tapping their foot. He developed five simple instruments that make music using natural human movements, calling the set Sound on Intuition.
The idea came out of Pietr’s graduate thesis at the Design Academy Eindhoven and was premised on the notion that whenever someone learns an instrument, they must teach their body certain movements in order to be able to play. A flautist must master his fingers, a drummer his coordination, but a player of Pietr’s instruments? They simply have to move as they normally would. The result is ‘instruments where you skip the learning process and just play,’ says Pietr.
There’s the Wob which, like a theremin, does not require any physical touch but rather uses a sensor so that when you wave you hand above it, a sound mimicking that wave is emitted. The Fngr attaches to your index finger, creating a sound with every tap. And should you bend your finger, the tone will change with the movement. The Scan uses your handwriting, translating dots and lines you write on a page into electronic beeps. Then there’s a sensor that wraps around your foot, called the Kick, which turns toe-tapping into a digital drum. Pietr says:
All our movements are unique, conscious or unconscious. Sound on Intuition captures this uniqueness and transforms it into sound.
The epitome of Sound on Intution is the last instrument, the Heart, which uses a stethoscope-type tool to pick up the user’s heartbeat. Linked to a computer, the heartbeat is transformed into a drum, a clap or whatever you program it to be.
All the instruments are designed as MIDI controllers, so that they are plugged into a laptop and can play any sound as long as it is rhythmic. There lies the rub. The instruments have very limited range because there is no melody, only repetition. But that doesn’t mean they cannot add something original to a track using traditional instruments. They let the musically curious, if slightly inept, join the musically talented in making new sound. Sound on Intuition wants to give the gift of music without the years of practice.
The thing is, Pietr’s instruments can never give the gift of rhythm or keeping time, an innate talent and something useful when playing the Kick or the Fngr. But anyone can play the Heart and dance right along to their own heartbeat, and that’s kind of magical isn’t it?
Watch the possibilities below: