Singing Sock Puppets

Ongoing Project

I make Singing Sock Puppets. They’re computer-connected toys that can sing up and down musical scales. There’s a flex sensor inside the mouth that maps your hand movements to a musical scale – open it a little to get a low note, and open it wider to get a high note. Here’s a little clip of the original prototype in action:

First prototype, December 2004

At the minute, they’re in prototype form, made by sewing this flex resistor inside the puppet’s mouth, and using an Arduino board to read and measure the bend angle. The Arduino board then talks to PureData, which maps the angle to a point on a musical scale. You can tune them to sing any scale, arpeggio, mode or whatever — any range of pitches you like. They could also be used as MIDI controllers, so you could control pretty much any range of music data you can imagine.

A puppet tuned to a blues scale

They can be tuned to sing scales, arpeggios, modes -- any type of pattern.

Shunt Lounge, London, October 2008

Puppets on exhibit at Shunt Lounge, 2008

Shunt Lounge, London, October 2008

So far I’ve been showing them at music festivals, galleries and theatres around the UK and abroad, and running puppet-making workshops in schools, collaborating with Art, Design, Music, Physics and Technology teachers to help kids explore the links between craft, electronics, toys, play and music. I’m also currently developing a commercial range of Singing Sock Puppet toys and kits.

Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, December 2009

Prototyping with an iPhone inside the mouth, April 2010

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