This is a concept toy car I designed to help teach beginner musicians (well, singers and wind or brass players) about the importance of controlled breathing. It replicates exercises familiar to many music teachers, and puts them in the context of a car steering game.

The project was part of my final MA work at the Royal College of Art, which looked at new approaches to music education through games, toys and play.

The player blows into a mouthpiece to control the car’s steering. Blow gradually harder (a crescendo) and it steers to the right; blow gradually softer (a diminuendo) and it steers to the left. The object of the game is to complete a three point turn.

Since the movement of the car can be described using musical notation (ie using only tempo and dynamics), I made a book of musical studies which looked at the potential shapes and patterns of other types of steering movements, and what the corresponding sheet music would look like.

    What a figure of eight looks like when notated

I built the car using a Yamaha BC3 breath controller, which fed MIDI data into Max/MSP, which then sent serial data over Bluetooth to a servo steering the car. Thanks to the RCA tutors and visiting teachers, including Tom Hulbert, Crispin Jones and Tobie Kerridge for helpful nudges with the electronics.

breath control car testing music for breath control car music for breath control car