thumb piano
Thumb piano in its original form

I want to create a light weight, perhaps paper based physical representation of the African thumb piano, that is also linked to an application.

I created a gesture controlled piano using p5 and poseNet;, so I want to embed that as well.

In this app will be an actual realistic sound recording of the notes of the keys of the thumb piano.

thumb piano notes
Thumb piano notes

My first step is prototyping what this physical device could look like and perform an informal user test.

My goal is to create an instrument similar to Google Music Lab's tool the Kadinsky, that can be used as a tool to teach cultural music and instrumentation from Africa. 

I also want to introduce this as a therapeutic tool that can be used by low energy individuals for stress reduction purposes.

My first user tested out the real thumb piano and felt that the therapeutic aspect comes from the sensation of playing with the metal forks of the instrument and felt that should be replicated in my design.

My second user felt that my paper based instrumentation was a waste of time. Saying that the app, tuned to the real instrument was enough.

My third user really enjoyed playing with the live instrument and loved the idea of a paper based representation but felt that the thumb piano is not just sounds, but also vibration from the wooden resonator and wanted that represented as well.

The thumb piano is a percussion instrument and I feel that I need to represent that in my design as well.

Rough prototype of the thumb piano
Rough prototype of the thumb piano


Here are some samples: