John Galloway welcomes a simple and accessible approach to making music
This recent innovation from Scotland is a white polyurethane cube, about the size of an economy box of tea bags, that has semi-circular coloured protuberances on five sides (the sixth being the base). It is played by pressure. Press anywhere on any one of its surfaces and your energy is turned into sound – not by air but by electronics.
So, being electronic also means that it can be any musical instrument you like. It comes pre-loaded with 12 of them, including guitar, flute, drums and piano. And these can be added to with any midi files, or, in fact, any sampled sound. The user’s voice, a snippet of something classical, a sound effect – whatever takes your fancy. Or you can "drive" a midi device, or software such as Garage Band, directly. It can have a different sound on each side – triggered simultaneously when squeezed on the corners or edges – or one or two for the whole device. Other adjustments include sensitivity to pressure, and it has decay, sustain and reverb settings.
The beauty of it is that anyone, even those with quite profound physical disabilities, can play it, and join in with other musicians, or a backing track, to make authentic music.
As a technology it can also be employed in other ways, not just making music, as it acts as a trigger. This could be images, messages, or actions, such as becoming an environmental controller to turn on the TV and change channels. Or as a multiple switch to control a computer program.
This is a great device, that is flexible in so many ways. Unlike the bagpipes it has an off switch.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5 (the software, 4)
Value for money 4
Musical instrument for children of all ages and abilities. Cube with five pressure-sensitive sides which, when touched, produce pre-programmed sounds. Includes software for PC connection.
Price: £500 from Skoog Music or from TAG Learning (discounts with multiple purchases)
TAG Learning. Angel House, Sherston, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0LH
Phone: +44 (0) 01666 843222
Fax: +44 (0) 01474 537 887
John Galloway works as advisory teacher for ICT/SEN and inclusion in Tower Hamlets, London, and as a freelance writer and consultant. He is the author of Harnessing Technology for Every Child Matters and Personalised Learning. This review first appeared on his blog.