Wibble, wobble: making music with jelly

GregJohnson April 29, 2012 0
Wibble, wobble: making music with jelly

To most people, wobbly basslines are something you’d expect to hear pounding away on a dubstep track, but now, thanks to the work of two French designers and some clever chemistry, the wibbles and wobbles of jelly can be transformed into sound.

Noisy Jelly is the brainchild of product designer Raphaël Pluvinage and food designer Marianne Cauvard. The basic premise of their peculiar musical creation is jelly that acts as a sensor when touched to create and trigger electronic sounds and samples.

Watch the demonstration video below to see how Noisy Jelly works for yourself:

The jellies are made from agar agar powder and take ten minutes to mould and set. Players can create different sounds and textures depending on the shapes and colours they chose to mould their jelly into.

Each musical jelly dye contains different concentrations of salt which affect the electronic signals as they pass through the jellies from a player’s touch, down onto the board. The amount of pressure placed on the jelly also affects the intensity and pitch of the sound outputted.

This is all made possible by the hardware platform Arduino that powers the game board and the open-source music-focussed programming language, Max/MSP. All the sounds in the video, besides Devo’s Whip It, were generated from manipulating the jelly without any post-production audio editing.

Cauvard explained the science behind the game: “Technically, the game board is a capacitive sensor and the variations of the shape and their salt concentration, the distance and the strength of the finger contact are detected and transform into an audio signal.

“This object aims to demonstrate that electronics can have a new aesthetic, and be envisaged as a malleable material, which has to be manipulated and experimented [with].”

Still only in its prototype stages, Noisy Jelly already looks and sounds like a fun musical game for kids and gadget lovers. However, does the project have the potential to become more than a curiosity  for musicians?

If the concept can be refined, perhaps with a more sophisticated array of dyes and potential sensors, Noisy Jelly could become an interesting new medium for experimental musicians and artists.

Just imagine the sound and spectacle of Bjork emerging from a huge column of jelly, like climbing through a giant, translucent wall of wobbly, edible theremin.

Do you think the concept has potential for a musicians or is the idea of musical jelly just a bit too bizarre and surreal? Would you like to try your hand at making, moulding and playing some Noisy Jelly?

Let us know what you think!