You're Listening To A Musical Instrument Made Of Jell-O

There really is always room for Jell-O.

As a species, we’ve sure put a lot of work into designing strange, noise-making implements that we pretend are perfectly normal by labeling them as “musical instruments.” Consider a tuba or a sitar--these are oddities by any aesthetic standard. We’re addicted to not just a wide variety of notes, but the unique flavors of each tone.

So maybe, when you think about it, there is nothing more strange about playing Jell-O than a cello.

Noisy Jelly is a project by Raphaël Pluvinage and Marianne Cauvard, two students at L’Ensci Les Ateliers. They experiment with agar agar jellies, placed upon sensors that convert their vibrations into music with the help of arduino processing.

“The signal has specific properties which are inherent to the jelly material,” Pluvinage tells Co.Design. “When you touch a jelly shape, maybe because it’s wiggling and the pressure of your finger is also not fixed, it produces a really small variation.” These minutiae add up--the wiggling, the jelly’s natural pressure sensitivity, the trembling of your own fingers--to create what, for lack of a better description, sounds like you’d imagine Jell-O to sound like.

But beyond that sound itself, Noisy Jelly is really about the experience of playing for the musician, an experience like no other instrument in the world. “The thing we find the most exciting is the relation between the tactual property of the jelly and the sound produced. It’s difficult to feel it in the video, but touching the jelly (which is really strange and unusual … and cold) is really surprising,” writes Pluvinage. “It’s enabling to have really ‘rich’ interaction. You have a lot of ways to influence the sound, and the tactile sensation you have is incomparable to any button or tactile surface.”

Because of this whimsical interaction between a famous dessert and musical creation, or maybe chemistry class and art class, the team considers Noisy Jelly to be a packageable game for kids. And while it probably is, really, who doesn’t love playing with their food? Noisy Jelly would be perfect for kids ages 1 to 100.

[Hat tip: illusion]

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