Author Topic: EXAMPLE: Human Instruments, Human Controllers, MaKey MaKey with Skin!  (Read 8231 times)


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Quick Description: Make a controller or an instrument out of several humans.

MaKey MaKey Human Percussion at Blissfest

Time: 1 hour


1 to 5 MaKey MaKeys
5 laptops
5 participants
5 pencils / paper

Price: $50 - $250 (for the MaKey MaKeys)

Difficulty: Easy


  • The flagship project for this activity is a human high five synthesizer. Try making one before running this activity. Just connect an alligator clip to Earth, and hold the metal tip of the other end between your fingers. Then connect another alligator clip to Space, and have a friend hold the metal tip between their fingers.
  • Now, when your skin touches theirs (like when you high five) you will press space. To make a drum sound, you can use the example drumkit on the howto page, or software like Soundplant or Ableton Live.
  • Next, add more people-instruments by connecting more alligator clips and having people hold them. The person connected to Earth can trigger sounds by touching the other people.
  • Tell your group there will be 3 steps: First they will pick some software that can be controlled by an arrow, space or click, next they will draw a controller that could be made out of human bodies, then they will take turns using each others' bodies to build the controller.
  • Let them loose looking for software. Give them 20 minutes to search the web and their OS's to find software they like. They can look at for some ideas if they want to.
  • Then they should sketch some ideas for a controller. Suggest sketching at least 2 separate ideas with pencil and paper, and then pick their favorite one to build. Give them about 10 minutes. Make sure to tell them when they only have 3 minutes left.
  • Now it's time to build the controller. Each person will need to participate in each other person's design. That's why you need 5 people to make this work. Each person can have up to 4 arms, legs, faces, or bodies in their design (the other 4 people will be used). Each person has up to 5 minutes to make their controller by arranging people's bodies. Maybe someone will make a dance dance revolution game controller out of people's faces and then you have to touch their noses to the beat of the music. Maybe someone will make a piano out of fingers. Maybe someone will make a high-five photo booth that takes your picture when you high five. Maybe someone will make a game to see how many human bodies you can jump over, but the game buzzes if you touch any of the bodies. Maybe someone will make an arm wrestling game where two people put their hands on the table and if the armwrestling touches one hand, one person wins, but if it touches the other hand another person wins. The only rule is that you have to make the controller out of human bodies, not bananas, not paper clips, not play dough.

Software: This is one of the open ended parts of the activity. People have to search out their preferred software. As usual, musical instruments and games work well.

Things to Try: Replace the idea of "humans" with any other singular object
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 03:41:17 AM by wakeupsilver »