Project 1

Sound System


The first project will be to develop your sound system that you will use throughout the class. A sound system can look and sound like many different things. It can be built into a suitcase, a bicycle, a backpack, a box, or a table. Your sound system will have these minimum requirements:

  • an amplifier with volume control (mono or stereo ok)
  • an input (at least one physical 1/4″ input, additional inputs great)
  • an embedded speaker
  • a waterproofed contact microphone
  • a skatchbox, mbira, string/spring instrument or another electroacoustic instrument

Sound Systems are due in class on October 10th. Be prepared to demonstrate how your sound system works and talk about why you choose your specific form factor and instrument.



Project 2 




Using a few inexpensive components, you can build a simple square wave synthesizer. The basic circuit is not very complicated but there are many ways to expand on it by adding voices, sensors, and amplifiers. First, we’ll build the basic circuit on breadboards and then you can experiment–modifying the circuit until it acts and sounds how you like. Second, you’ll rebuild the circuit on a protoboard so it can be installed in a enclosure/box/sculpture of your design.

Cost: between $5-$15

Materials: provided for $5

  • 1 CMOS Hex Schmitt Trigger Integrated Circuit
  • various capacitors
  • various resistors
  • potentiometers
  • Light dependent resistor – photocell
  • Solidcore hook up wire
  • mono headphone jack
  • battery clip
  • 9 volt battery
  • speaker
  • LM386 amplifier chip

Optional materials: not provided

  • different types of sensors
  • housing/enclosure of some sort

Helpful Resources

Some Examples:

Enclosure Inspiration


Project 2 


Computers are not always the ideal interfaces for musical expression. Good news — we can build our own systems for controlling digital audio engines in Max/MSP (or any other program). For this project you will prototype a max/msp controller that includes at least 1 analog sensor, 1 digital sensor, and 1 LED. Take a look at this page for a list of sensors types.

Your instrument does not need to be fixed in an enclosure, but it should be playable, meaning breadboard is fine, but do install the sensors in a cardboard or tupperware box so that they are easily accessible. The patch can be as simple or complex as you would like. Again, these are prototypes for musical interaction that you can finish for the final project if you like this direction.

A working prototype is due in class on 11/28. I will be updating this page with examples from the presentation