The MakeyMakey is a gizmo that allows you to control computers by touching anything that conducts a small amount of electricity: PlayDoh, fruit, vegetables, even graphite pencil.
As you may know, I’ve been playing tunes on potatoes and making Scratch projects to play music using things wired up to a MakeyMakey
Well, here at BlogMyWiki Labs, we’ve just taken it to a whole new level. My colleague Felix Glenn and I discovered that you can use GarageBand (up to a point) with the standard MakeyMakey. This means: true polyphony, and a huge range of amazing-sounding instruments, from trumpets to 80s synths, via drumkits and strings.
The trick is to use the musical typing feature in GarageBand – this maps musical notes to letters on your normal keyboard. This is handy, because the computer thinks the MakeyMakey is just a normal USB keyboard.
The standard MakeyMakey only gives us access to the W A S D F letters, which I had thought ruled it out – not so. This is where the musical genius of m’colleague Felix comes in handy. He knows you can get kids making music with just 3 notes. Here’s my attempt with a bunch of carrots and a GarageBand Arp synth arpeggiator:
Felix’s next stroke of genius was to start to experiment with how we can use this to get the children (primary-aged) to make their own musical instruments that are in fact control surfaces for electronic instruments. Here the 3 note limit becomes a positive advantage, as it makes construction of the physical instrument simpler: you only need to wire 3 things back to the MakeyMakey (plus the earth).
As well as DT and music, there’s science learning going to happen here: you have to make a complete electrical circuit to trigger a note.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we present the world premiere of the ColanderPhone:
Take a bow, Mr Glenn.
We can’t wait to see where the children take this: flutes you earth by putting the tip in your mouth, drumkits made out of cutlery or vegetables, maybe even a double bass – we’ll report back!
Next steps: how about I reprogram a MakeyMakey so that it can access at least 8 notes – I’m going to need help, though… anyone any good at that?