Polyphonic Playground: Making Music with Fun Movement

Climb a ladder, swing on a hammock-like seat and run your hands along various wooden surfaces on this strange polyphonic playground, and your movements will create a unique song. Studio PSK teamed up with beatboxer Reeps One to create this multi-sensory play experience for this year’s London Design Festival, encouraging people to interact with an unusual physical fusion of music, design and technology.

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Designer Patrick Stevenson-Keating d Reeps record a bunch of different sound banks of samples, which were then loaded onto the program Ableton Live and mapped to trigger points on the playground. A product called ‘Electric Paint,’ which sends signals to the computer, is screen-printed onto paper tiles and covered in protective acrylic, acting as giant keys on a keyboard.

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The wooden playground frame is like one big musical instrument in this sense, setting off cascades of sound as participants clamber up the steps or take a trip down the slide. In addition to the conductive paint on the wooden elements, the team integrated copper tape into the slide and conductive thread in the swings.

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“We were always very clear from the start that we wanted ‘play’ to be an important part of the project,” the designer tells Bare Conductive. “…Often we communicate quite complex ideas or narratives, but by employing a playful strategy to do so, we can engage with the audience in more meaningful ways. This was certainly the hope for the Polyphonic Playground.”