The spiritual predecessors to The Tune Zoo, The Singing Sock Puppets are prototype physical/digital toys that sing musical scales. There’s a flex sensor inside the mouth – open it a little to sing a low note, and open it wider to sing a high note.
Multi-layered musical play
Singing Sock Puppets seem to generate smiles and belly laughs for pretty much everyone, no matter their age. At the surface, they are simple, silly toys. But there are some deeper layers in there too.
Low floor, high ceiling
For beginners, it might be that feeling like you’re making music (or helping a puppet make music) is just as important as actually doing so. The puppets are tuned to a blues scale, so with the right backing track, it’s hard to sound ‘wrong’. This scaffolding guides the play away from reliance on technique, and lets beginners enjoy pure expression and improvisation. Early years music education, in particular the Orff Schulwerk system, has long worked this way.
For more experienced players, there’s room for mastery – it’s possible to achieve a pretty expressive performance after some practice. Under the hood, we can tweak the scale types and backing tracks to allow for even more exploration.
From prototype to product
The prototypes have been playtested all over the world, at music festivals, schools and museums, and Matt has run workshops with kids, showing them how to make their own. The project might someday graduate from prototype to product. Watch this space!