Mix Music As Easily As Playing With Blocks


What if making music needed no written notes? No treble or bass clefs. No black and white keys. No series of esoteric symbols you needed to learn to just let it go and jam, man.

Beat Blox gets us pretty close. Created by Per Holmquist, a student at Beckmans College of Design, Beat Box is a series of three turntables. They make no music on their own. But when you place blocks on top, these blocks play a beat each time they make a rotation.

The cleverness is that the positioning of the blocks have a 1:1 relationship with the music. If you want to create a faster beat, like eighth notes, just place them closer together. If you want to create a slower beat, like quarter notes, spread them further apart. And of course, you can create any type of syncopation by messing with this spacing, too.

To play different instruments, four tracks are built into the turntable as concentric rings. You simply drop a block into a different ring to, quite literally, drop the beat.

In reality, Beat Blox is a pretty simple machine. It’s just a few turntables loaded with physical sequencers--a electronic instruments that translate basic analog gestures into digital notes. But the resulting musical experience is equal parts intuitive and whimsical. It’s all the fun of musical creation, in a language anyone can appreciate.

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[Images: Per Holmquist]