What was your first musical instrument? A recorder? A cheap guitar? The family piano? Well, what if it was a simple piece of paper?
That's the promise of a prototype kit from Italian startup MusicInk. Using the kit's conductive ink, you first paint lines on a piece of paper using one of the supplied stencils, which come in the shape of a trumpet, a guitar, piano keys, or other instruments. Then you attach the paper via cable to a magical electronic box, which runs off an app (for an explanation of the box/app magic, see WIRED's detailed report on this). Courtesy of some programming and electronic whiz-bangery, the painted paper becomes an instrument that triggers sounds recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
This won't become the next MVP of the world's symphony halls, but it could make a simple, affordable way to teach young children about the basics of music. It's kind of surreal to see sheets of paper come sonically alive in the above video, both for the adults and the children.
The project is still in prototype form now, but, according to WIRED, its designers hope to make the system simpler and more customizable in the future (possibly by making it wireless), then release a product that helps children better get their heads around music-making. With so many studies showing the benefits of music education and practice (and not just on the young), this could be a way to democratize its benefits even further. And you just know that when it comes out, some arty musician grown-ups are going to find a use for it, too.