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Assistive Music Technolgy devices that works outside of the workshop.

There are several approaches:-

  • Create devices purely for fun and educational purposes.
  • Devices that have a therapeutic potential (including data logging to support measurable outcomes).
  • They could be based either in a therapeutic or a day centre setting.
  • Standalone home use, supported by a carer.

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Medi MIDI eBoard Circle of Fifths Test Bed Gwynhaff the Festive Road Dragon

Base Stations

These devices are self-contained. i.e. they have onboard micro-controllers and small MIDI synthesizer board. Plus they have a built in sound system. A suitable "actuator" is then plugged into the appropriate jack socket on the rear panel. The choice of actuator will depend on the need of the student / subject / user.

N.B. They come in two main varients. The "TopBox" version is lightweight and low powered, designed for one to one use. The others have more powerful amplifiers and speakers can alos be used in e.g. a music room with larger groups.

Varient

Description

Medi MIDI

Medi MIDI aka "Cheese Wedge".Actuators are plugged into the rear pannel

Designed with supporting stroke victims to a better recovery. e.g. "Gait trainig". This as yet to be tested. This is both a simpler and more complex device! It's musicality was restricted to only 4 percussion; 4 chords; 4 tones though still with 6 instruments.The rational being that in a clinical situation 4 music sounds would be sufficient in a recovery phase. This device is capable of data logging.That is, objective baseline measurements can be made of interactions with a patient. To facilitate this it is fitted with a software metronome. The associated LED can be Red, Green or Blue when below, on or above the beats per minute setting. Data is extracted via the USB port. The metronome instruments can be altered as can the time signature.
Top Box and Jelly Bean Switches

"Top Box" This has been designed to enable the headrest of a wheelchair to play either chords or percussion. Based on an Arduino UNO and a Sparkfun Music Shield. 3.5mm jack sockets are used to match the 3.5mm plugs on the Jelly Beans. RHS sockets ~ chords, LHS sockets ~ percussion. The top control changes instruments. The bottom control alters sustain.

TypewriterMk3
The Typewriters
This moved the "Bread bin" test bed into a more ergonomic design. The key design factor in this instance was to make it simpler for a carer with only elementary music skills to in turn enable a person with an impairment to participate actively in music. Thus the instrument selections are directly in line with the buttons that activate those instruments. Equally on the rear panel the jack sockets mirror the front panel buttons. An "off the shelf" HiFi amplifier was mounted at the front which includes volume and tone controls. Typically it took only a few minutes for therapist and or members of the general public to "get the hang" of how to operate the "typewriter" squawk box".
The Electric Bread Bin
The Electric Bread Bin
The main idea behind the "Electric Bread Bin" was to make a fully self-contained unit. This has onboard amplifiers, music shield and Arduino Uno processor. Six chords and four percussion sounds (with six instrument selections could by played using the front panel buttons -selected on the rear panel). The most important part is the actuators which can be plugged into the rear panel. Some examples these (but not all) can be seen at the end of this page..

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Standalone

These devices are essentially self-contained and just require switching on. Standalone encourages home use and if necessary, supported by a carer. This gives more opportunities of use and intervention.

Varient

Description

eBoard
Touch Sensitive White Board This was aimed at supporting the development of speech skills in child with autism. In this case taking part in the sone "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". Pictures and related sound files could be changed. MacIntyre Article ~ The Inventor and Us"
AMPS The Talking Table
The Talking Table This was designed as an activity for a play group.It uses capacitive sensors under 120 cm x 54 cm sheet of 5 ply. The idea is to match an image with the sound. The 54 cm width is the same width as a sheet of wall paper. This allows for a change in patterns, pictures and sounds.
Air Guitar Drum
Air-Drum-Flute-Guitar A vary portable device to support music and movement for the subject. It uses an ultrasonic sensor to pick up the movement.
Electric Leaves

Electric Leaves

These were created by making sensors out of hardboard, emi copper foil and white gaffer tape and paper leaves. Sound tracks were recorded and loaded onto a "Bare Conductive" processor board. Capacative sensing triggers a sound file. In this case playing the recorded voice of the poem written on the associated leaf.

Sound Blanket

Sound Blanket
Update October 2016: This survived around 9 months. It been rebuilt using the Adafruit SFX card. The 4 cell battery unit is being replace by a single 9v cell. This will reduce the overall weight and reduce kinetic mass and energy.

This was built along the "prescription" principle. A local charity requested a device for a student with autism. The person in question felt more comfortable and at ease with certain sounds. These sounds were captured with a field recorder and copied onto a SD card. The card was then plugged into a Bare Conductive combined processor and synthesiser card. A small amplifier, speaker and battery holder were added into the mix. For safety the output sound level (velocity) was limited in the software so as not to cause any hearing damage should the speaker be held close to the ear..More Detail

mini MIDI drum kit

Mini MIDI Drum Kit

After an article in the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) magazine a request came in to design an interface that could help someone to play a kick drum without using a left foot. Initially the focus was on creating more realistic percussion sounds using the dedicated channel 10 MIDI sounds rather than the more generic offerings (Especially to create the kick drum sound). The next problem was how best to trigger the drum. Initially a 3-axis accelerometer was tried attached with sticking plaster to the jaw. This worked but you could not move the rest of the body without triggering additional random responses .I decided against attaching additional detectors as it would have made the software too complex and eat up a lot of R&D time. An ultrasonic range finder was also attempted with a similar outcome. The client themselves suggested something you could bite on. This inspired me to talk to my dentist's dental technician. After some experimentation a small pressure sensor was sandwiched between two strips of dental plastic. This worked fine. Except the plastic rapidly abrades and then allows saliva to leak into the sensor, therefore not a long term solution. By chance I spotted a tooth switch on a photographic supplies site. These are used by sky divers to activate cameras and keep their hands free for manoeuvring. The tooth switch worked okay. The big button yellow button is to experiment with the kick drum by hand. The smaller buttons can be programmed for other percussion such high tom, snare, crash symbol etc. The tooth switch plugs into the jack socket. There are also line and MIDI outputs.

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Concept

These devices demonstrate that open source technology gives a range of flexible design options.

Varient

Description

Planxtone

Planxtone aka the Polyphonic Plank. A proof of concept as well as challenging conventional form factors.

A Proximity Sensing Keyboard. Created to test a range of concepts e.g. proximity sensing, key shifting, octave shifting and instrument changing. The detection sensitivity has been set fairly high, which means notes can be triggered by moving a hand 1cm or more above the keyboard. They keys are made out of blank printed circuit board.

In the software listing it is possible to see mathematics involved in changing the musical key or shifting the octave up and down.

Sound Circle WIP

The Sound Circle, an update on the Tone Circle. This will be easier to pass around a group session.

It can also be monophonic or polyphonic as well as being able to change instruments.

Circle of Fifths
Tone Circle and / or Circle of Fifths. A proof of concept to demonstrate music theory.This was subsequently reprogrammed to play in the key of C. It proved fairly successful at a session run by the Electric Umbrella Group. As it was a little unwieldy because of its size(60 cm x 60 cm)and shape, a handier version has been constructed (See Sound Circle above)
Table Flute
Table Flute A polyphonic MIDI derivation. This proved very popular when running the occasional "Sound Bytes" demonstrations at The National Museum of Computing. Largely because itt looks like a table top, but is actually a polyphonic electronic flute. It surprises people that you can turn an ordinary table top into a musical instrument. One of the objectives of the Accessible Music Project is to demonstrate that you do not have to be tied into traditional form factors and shapes when creating a musical instrument.

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Experimental

Sometimes it is necessary to work through several hardware and software design options before expending time constructing a complete device.

Device

Narrative

Proximity Tester Proximity Box: MIDI This was developed for testing out the suitability of different materials that could be used with proximity sensing. e.g. if copper tape is stuck under a table, how thick a layer of can it detect a hand touching the surface. Thus a plain table can be turned into e.g. a drum kit.
Test Bed
Test Bed
This was put together to give a more stable and reliable arrangement for wiring connections. It has half a dozen tactile buttons, some jack sockets and rotary selectors plus a build in battery. Electronics are provided by an Arduino Uno and a Sparkfun music shield. It has been variously fitted with ultrasonic and infrared rangefinders to make an air drum as well as evaluating software builds.
The NoteDuino
The NoteDuino
This was a "proof of concept. Sound capable "shields" had become available so it was possible to dispense with the external electronic keyboard and/or syntheser.The shape and presentation indicate the mix of music and electronics. This now allows for 4 chords and 4 percussion sounds. The software was redesigned to be poly-chordal i.e. multiple chords can be played simultaneously. Four instruments are available for selection for either chords or percussion. Two selection modes are used. One is binary, the other is resistive ladder

A Musical Prosthesis

The original concept. A box containing an Arduino micro controller programmed to be a MIDI controller. This could then be interfaced into a standard electronic keyboard. Pressing the large red foot switch would then play chords or percussion depending on the setting of the "Musical Prosthesis." The availability of "Music Shields", which piggy back the micro controller meant the electronic musical keyboard could be dispensed with

N.B. THis device still has utilty on locations with readily available keyboards.

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Specials

Sometimes a request comes in to help with a "one off".

Subject

Device

Narrative

SFX Unit MK4

SFX Unit

Push Button Box 4-way

Control Unit

Gwynhaff now has an updated SFX unit. The electronics have been separated out from the push button. This makes the hardware more generic and so faulty parts can be swapped out more easily.

Gwynhaff the Festive Road Dragon

Gwnnhaff

Dragons Voice

Control Box

Festive Road based in Milton Keynes asked if I could add sound to their dragon. The "Dragons Voice" box was the result.

Gwnnhaff the dragon now has a voice, again using an Adafruit SFX card. All contained in a small self contained box fitted to the handle bars. The speaker and amplifier are inside the neck. Archie and Harminder also have voices.

harminder

Harminder 

Harminder Voice Box

Control Box

Harminder is another perambulating mechanical marvel from Festive Road. First use of the generic module.

A MK III voice box. Analysing failure modes from earlier devices I now use a 5 Pin XLR cable to attach to the control box on the steering mechanism. This won't disconnect under vibration. For the line out, phono sockets are fixed to an epoxy base, so they cannot vibrate and rotate when Harminder is traveling and eventually brake the wired connexion. Again using an Adafruit SFX.

50th Anniversery LEM - wired for sound

"Lunar Landing Module"

A diversion from my usual use of music tech. The good folks at Festive Road (MK) wanted their 50th anniversary mock up of the Lunar Lander wired for sound. Pressing the big blue button at the lower front plays various Apollo 11 sound bytes. It uses an adaFruit SFX board with 12Mb of memory, a pair of old HiFi speakers and a Class D 20W amp.

Base Stations

Standalone

Concept

Experimental

Specials

Actuators ~ These are important as flexible range of switches to trigger notes, chords or percussion when plugged into, or built into a base unit.

Are rang of techniques are available e.g. ON / OFF switches, pressure pads, ultrasonic and infra red range finders, capacitive, microwave, Time of Flight, Accelerometers, Light Dependent Resistors, Back Scatter devices to name a few.

large Red Push Button Finger Drums Pressure Pads 4 Small Buttons 4 way joystick
Button Actuator Single Medium Pink A pair of foot switches Medium button orange single Actuators Varous IR sensor
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