Most people, whether they have any talent or not, would like to be able to make music somehow, if they only could. And in lieu of that, many take to playing air guitar, or drumming on a table with pencils as a means of expressing their musical urges. Now, such people many finally have a means for converting such impulses into music, without having to learn an instrument. It’s called, as noted in Wired Magazine, the Mogees Project, from IRCAM, a musical interaction cooperative created specifically to help those that can’t play instruments, express themselves musically nonetheless. Their latest, and perhaps most ambitious project is creation of a simple device, that once stuck onto normal everyday surfaces, causes those surfaces to produce musical tones when struck by say, fingers, a pen, or any other object.
The device looks rather sort of like the business end of a doctor’s stethoscope, and indeed works in very much the same way. It has a little microphone on it that is sensitive enough to pick up the subtle vibrations that occur when an object is struck. The speaker part is then connected to a synthesizer that converts the vibration into musical tones, which can then be played in earphones, or speakers. The microphone end also has an adhesive feature so that the user doesn’t have to hold it in place. Thus, to make music, all a person has to do is stick the little device to a table, wall, window, tree limb, or whatever else seems handy, then commence to striking the table, wall, etc. near the device with fingers, thumbs, feet, pencils, sticks, etc. to create rhythmic and in many cases, flowing music generated by the subtle vibrations created in ordinary objects. The group has posted a demonstration video on Youtube, where some of the many ways the Mogees can be used are shown. Suffice it to say, the whole idea, as well as the device itself, is truly cool, and most anyone who sees it in action, will want one.
IRCAM focuses mainly on ways to help at-risk kids get involved in music as a means of helping them have a more meaningful existence. Projects such as Mogees help kids see that there is music everywhere, and all they have to do is open their eyes and ears, to see and hear it.
Other projects by the group include such things as the Urban Musical Game, whereby a soccer ball is made to produce musical tones as a game is underway, and Windtexture, a means for creating music via vibrations created by the slightest breeze.