Video: Drawing musical instruments with MusicInk

An Italian startup aptly named MusicInk is using Bare Conductive ink and an Atmel-powered (ATmega328) Arduino Duemilanove to create educational musical instruments that can be drawn and played in just minutes. According to Liat Clark of Wired UK, MusicInk’s official kit currently includes a set of stencils, a trumpet with several keys and a guitar with a few strings.

“The circuits are mediated by an Arduino Duemilanove board, with a Sparkfun MPR121 acting as the capacitive touch sensor controller,” writes Clark. “The controller, contained in a slick wooden box, can hold up to twelve individual electrodes.”

Meaning, a class can theoretically play 12 “instruments” at a time, depending on their complexity.

“At the more basic end, instruments have just one connection and play one note, but a keyboard with multiple notes can be set-up and the guitar in particular is setup with divided tracks for the same reason,” Clark notes.

The MusicInk team – which recently presented their kit at Maker Faire Rome – includes product designers Riccardo Vendramin and Gilda Negrini, along with software engineer Luong Bui.

“This is just a prototype,” Vendramin explains. “We want to improve and do something wireless. It started out just as a project for the Polytechnic University of Milan … For me, the future of design stands between technology, the art of design and manufacturing skills.”

Prototype or not, Clark confirms that the result of keying the notes – even for adults – is a lot of fun.

“It’s impossible not to get caught up in the sheer novelty, with this reporter instinctively beginning to strum the black ink lines of the guitar as though it were the real thing, rather than simply pressing each one as would be sufficient to get a response,” she adds.

Interested in learning more about? You can check out MusicInk’s official project page here.

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