The LEGO-Table - How to make music with bricks

Did you know that building bricks can sound just like a piano? Dr. Uwe Oestermeier, head of the software development department of the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, created a software which enables to do that. You just have to put some of the bricks on the surface of the multi-touch table and a chaotic piano melody starts playing. If you look carefully, then you can see that only the white bricks produce sounds. The recognition is based on infrared, therefore the clear bricks are not detectable and can be used as pauses or as frameworks for the melodies.

There is a grid on the surface of the table. Each small square on the vertical axis represents a pitch. The increase in the pitch of the c major scale looks like stairs.

Different kinds of bricks are used to set the sound duration on the vertical axis. The smallest brick represents the sixteenth note, next are the eighth and the quarter note. The remaining half and whole notes can be created by putting the existing bricks together.

If the bricks are super-imposed, then they are played simultaneously. This enables to create chords or to play with “both hands”.

By using this technology recreating existing melodies is very simple. And at the same time you can easily manipulate them, e.g., halve the bricks to double the speed of the melody.

Shift the melody up or down to change its pitch.

To play the melody from back to front you have to mirror it on the horizontal axis. Or turn it over, to listen to its reverse sound.

The course „Listening to Math – Children compose with LEGO“ uses the „Lego-Table“ as its main teaching and learning tool. With its help kids acquire different composing techniques and use them to compose new melodies. Math supports them in doing so. Click below to learn more about the course: Hector Institut für empirische Bildungsforschung - Hector Core Courses